While too much news these days seems to be very negative and bring us down, other stories can spark a little hope, a little interest, or provide a learning curve. Today I thought I’d do a mini round-up of a few health news stories that are recently making headlines.
Bake Off Taking To Hospitals
Okay, not quite. Bake Off’s Prue Leith has apparently been asked by Boris Johnson to undertake a review of NHS hospital food following the recent listeria outbreak that led to six patients dying after eating sandwiches provided in hospitals.
It always amazes me when I read on blogs and elsewhere that someone has had a positive foodie experience in a UK NHS hospital. It’s sad that we come to associate hospital food with slop that we don’t want to eat. What frustrates me is that the options are rather limited, and when you have specific requirements – ie. because of diabetes, intolerances or allergies, or you’ve just had bowel surgery and need a bland, low residue diet – you can really struggle to find anything. I’m quite partial to the little ice cream tubs, but other than that I’ve ended up relying on crisps and yoghurts I’ve bought in from home whenever I’ve had stoma issues/surgery.
Boris has stated: “Guaranteeing hospitals serve nutritional, tasty and fresh meals will not only aid patient recovery, but also fuel staff and visitors as they care for loved ones and the vulnerable. Our NHS has led the way since the day it was formed. This review will ensure it remains the standard-bearer for healthy choices.” Sounds good. I wonder what Prue will do for the state of hospital food?
Intravenous (PN) Shortage for NHS Patients
Worryingly, there’s a current shortage of intravenous fluids that could significantly affect NHS patients in the UK.
Calea is a company that manufactures IV feeds. People who can’t digest food and so are unable to eat and absorb what they need are reliant on this intravenous feed for nutrition, which bypasses your gastrointestinal tract. It’s referred to as PN, or parenteral nutrition.
An inspection by the Medicines and Healthcares Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in June this year discovered contamination and suspect bacteria, human pathogens, at the Calea manufacturing site. Calea have been ordered to rectify this and as a result production has slowed and reduced.
Of course the knock-on effect is then a shortage of PN for patients. It’s been declared an emergency incident, but that doesn’t help the patients who may be facing lengthy delays on their prescription deliveries, with some going days without any nutrition.
NHS trusts have been advised to review their patients to identify those at risk, while the Department of Health and Social Care, along with experts from other fields like MHRA and NHSE, are looking at other suppliers to fill the gaps.
You can read more here. I hope that this is a learning curve for safety standards at Calea, and a wake-up call for the NHS and other agencies that contingency measures and back up plans should be in place for emergency incidents like this.
The Over 65s On Too Many Pills?
Recent findings by UK suggest the elderly may be at risk as many are taking numerous medications. 86% of pensions take at least one medication, but around 20%, or two million, of the over 65s in the UK take 7 or more different medications daily.
Of course, many of these are going to be life-saving and necessary, but the concern is that some are either not required, no longer needed, or cause adverse effects, meaning they’re doing more harm than good. Personally, I think that taking lots of tablets in itself isn’t the problem, and even those under 30 can be taking handfuls of prescription medications every week. The issue comes when changing circumstances and changes to your health requirements don’t correlate with updates to your medications.
The crux of the story? Regular medication reviews, no matter your age, should be undertaken by your GP. Never stop taking medications without speaking to your doctor first. If you have any concerns or queries over what you’re taking, speak to your doctor.
A Little Walk Goes A Long Way
A recent study undertaken by Professor Ulf Ekelund from the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences in Oslo has been published in the BMJ (British Medical Journal) and reported in the news. The findings support the notion of how just a little exercise each day can have marked benefits.
The study used 36,383 participants over 5.8 years, aged 40 and over, and compared 3 tiers of activity: lighter exercise and activity (ie. household tasks such as washing the dishes or gentle walking), followed by moderate activity (ie. lawn mowing, vacuuming and brisk walking), and finally more challenging activity (ie. heavy lifting or jogging).
The finding? Any level of activity, regardless of the intensity level, was linked to a substantially reduced ‘risk of death’. It sounds like a very ominous way of phrasing it, but that’s the official finding. You needn’t be forcing yourself to the gym 7 days a week or running laps for 2 hours a day. Just sitting a little less and moving a little more can do you a world of good. It sounds very much like common sense to me, but the suggestion is that the little things every day can be perhaps more significant in protecting your health than they get credit for, on par with more strenuous activities.
This is also great news for those with chronic illness and/or chronic fatigue. Exercise can be a tricky issue, so it’s motivating to know that simply working a little more activity in to your day can be so beneficial.
What news stories have caught your eye recently? Have a restful weekend everyone.