Monday, 27 February 2012

Sunday, 26 February 2012

NHS Postcode Lottery is Restricting Access to Drugs like Avastin and Abiraterone on the Cancer Drugs Fund

The government Cancer Drugs Fund enables cancer sufferers without private medical cover to benefit from treatment not available on the NHS. However, with a postcode lottery dictating the availability of this service, and with the initiative due to end in 2014, Brits may soon need to look for alternative ways of accessing lifesaving cancer drugs like Avastin, Abiraterone and Yervoy.

The Cancer Drugs Fund was set up in 2010 to give patients without private medical cover the chance to be treated with drugs deemed by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) as too expensive for the NHS. Patients can apply through their doctors for the funds which are then administered by health authorities across England.

Avastin is one of these drugs available through the Cancer Drugs Fund, licensed for use on breast cancers, colon cancer, gastrointestinal cancers, kidney cancers, lung cancers, ovarian cancer and rectal cancer. Although Avastin is licensed and can be prescribed in the UK, it has not been approved for use on the NHS because it is not considered cost-effective. Consequently, the drug is only available through the Cancer Drugs Fund or through private medical insurance. Self-pay patients would be set back around £21,000 for a course of Avastin.

Abiraterone is another drug available through the Fund. Abiraterone is a hormone based therapy drug which blocks the generation of testosterone in the tumours of men with late-stage prostate cancer. Trials of abiraterone found that it extended a patient’s life by an average of 4 months. Although it was licenced for use in the UK, NICE has decided that the drug is too expensive for use in the NHS in England. Abiraterone is now only available through the Cancer Drugs Fund or private medical insurance. Self-pay patients pay around £3,000 a month for treatment with Abiraterone.

Skin cancer drug Yervoy has also been turned down by NICE for use on the NHS. Yervoy is the first medicine proven to extend the lives of patients with advanced melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer. But the four necessary injections of Yervoy cost almost £80,000 per person in total. NICE has concluded that funding the drug would not be a cost effective use of NHS resources. Now, the only way people can be treated with Yervoy is through the Cancer Drugs Fund or through private medical insurance.

Whilst the Cancer Drugs Fund has helped thousands of patients get access to expensive cancer treatment, recent figures show that a postcode lottery is limiting the availability of drugs in certain parts of the country. Each health authority in England is awarded a budget to spend on cancer drugs from the Fund, ranging from around £9million to £30million depending on population size. But the Rarer Cancers Foundation has revealed that in some areas of the country less than one fifth of the money has been spent. In underspent regions, cancer patients are being turned away.

Richard Theo, of health insurance comparison website said: “Rather than relying on the Cancer Drugs Fund for access to drugs like Avastin, Yervoy and Abiraterone you could compare health insurance policies online in order to find a policy that would fund these drugs if required. Private medical insurance complements the service provided by the National Health Service, and would guarantee you treatment with licensed drugs even if they are not approved by NICE.”

And with the Cancer Drugs Fund due to end in 2014, private medical insurance will give you peace of mind about you and your family’s healthcare for years to come. is the only true health insurance comparison website in the UK.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Direct Health rolls-out Advanced’s electronic call monitoring with inclusive airtime to 2000 care workers

Direct Health is Advanced Health & Care’s biggest iConnect deal to date

Direct Health is rolling-out an electronic call monitoring (ECM) solution from Advanced Heath & Care (Advanced), which includes iConnect, StaffPlan Roster, StaffPlan Monitor and Orange airtime, following a successful three month pilot.

The contract with Direct Health is Advanced’s biggest ECM order to date, with 2000 care workers planning to use iConnect and 200 staff expected to use StaffPlan Roster. Direct Health is one of the UK’s leading home care providers, delivering cost-effective care and support to 6,500 service users across 18 sites in the North and the Midlands.

Advanced’s iConnect provides a mobile point of care solution to carers in the community. In addition to delivering real-time task lists and care recipient data to care workers via their mobile phones, the solution records actual arrival and departure times. To prove attendance, care workers simply touch in and out at each visit, using their NFC-enabled mobile devices coupled with radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags fitted within service users’ homes. StaffPlan Monitor is the landline alternative to iConnect, enabling care works to record their arrival and departure times by dialling a free-phone number from the service user’s phone.

The data that is collected from iConnect and StaffPlan Monitor is fed back to Advanced’s Staffplan Roster system in real time, giving managers a holistic view of electronic timesheets so that they know exactly when staff arrive and depart from their shifts.

180 Direct Health care workers are currently using the iConnect solution on Samsung Tap mobile phones. Time and attendance information is then instantly fed back to StaffPlan Roster, which is managed by 15 office-based staff. All 2000 care workers are expected to be live with iConnect by September 2012.

Richard Gordon, Managing Director of Direct Health says, “We recognised the need for mobile solutions that could disseminate staff rosters and record accurate time and attendance information. These solutions were needed to ensure compliance, improve efficiency, assist with the administration of our workforce, deliver cost savings and further improve care delivery.”

Gordon continues, “We chose Advanced as our mobile solutions provider because the company is highly regarded in the care world and has one of the most professionally developed products. Importantly, Advanced could provide us with a comprehensive solution encompassing the software, mobile devices and airtime. This was a very compelling proposition.”

The pilot phase of the project ran from September 2011 until November 2011 and early indications are that the solutions are improving operational efficiency, transparency of information and workforce management. Direct Health is also expecting cost savings and anticipates a short payback period. In addition, local authorities are likely to have greater confidence in what they are billed.

Care workers are adapting well to the new iConnect solution following 30 minute training sessions. Paper rosters no longer need to be carried around and care workers on the road have instant, real-time access to their appointments, enabling them to spend less time on administration and more time delivering patient care.

iConnect is also making life easier for service users, as Gordon explains, “One of the benefits of the electronic call monitoring solution is that the new technology is far less intrusive. It removes the burden on our service users who are generally elderly people, to prove carer attendance by signing a paper document.”

Jim Chase, Managing Director of Advanced Health & Care says, “We are delighted that Direct Health is already seeing the benefits of using our electronic call monitoring solution. We have seen an enormous surge in demand for mobile solutions in the care sector due to their efficiency and cost saving benefits. We expect this demand to continue, especially as electronic call monitoring typically provides improvements in compliance as well as significant workforce efficiencies.”

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Helpline launched in bid to help Britain’s employees beat the office bugs

The common cold is tightening its grip on workplaces across the UK, as record numbers of Britons trudge into work even when genuinely ill in a bid to impress the boss and underline their commitment to the job. A recent survey found that half of workers had not taken a single day off sick in 2011 because of a cold or flu, despite falling ill with such illnesses on up to three occasions.

Help is at hand, however, thanks to Fisherman’s Friend – maker of the nation’s strongest throat lozenges – which has decided to take action. The company, which commissioned the survey, is offering FREE ‘SOS Kits’ to offices in need, in a bid to blitz those bugs and keep workers protected from anything that may stand in the way of a productive working day.

Containing hand sanitiser, desk wipes, a mini hot water bottle, ‘stay awake’ glasses (to keep any sneaky naps discreet) and several packets of Fisherman’s Friend, the kits are a sure-fire way to keep workers safe from any nasty illnesses spread by colleagues refusing to stay at home!

If workers do fall ill, the strong menthol and eucalyptus in a Fisherman’s Friend lozenge is perfect to help keep the symptoms at bay, and with more menthol than many of its rivals, it really is the strongest there is!

If your office is suffering from a sickly spell and is in need of some help, simply call the dedicated SOS telephone helpline on 020 7554 4496, clearly leaving your name and address, or email at Fisherman’s Friend will despatch a free kit immediately, while stocks last, to help get your office back to working order.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Former top user of insulin tells his story of how weight loss changed it all

A man who used to be Britain’s highest individual user of insulin told delegates at a study day in Liverpool recently how specialist weight loss surgery transformed his life.

Michael Parker, 49, who weighed 34 stone and was plagued by ill-health, is among 200 people nationwide who have all undergone a complex weight loss procedure known as the duodenal switch.

40 duodenal switch patients gathered together for the first time at an event organised by leading weight loss surgery information charity WLSinfo to share their experiences.

Speakers at the event included leading surgeons, including Professor David Kerrigan, who pioneered the duodenal switch operation in the UK. Also attending were patients and dieticians.

“The study day was for anyone who has had or is thinking of having the duodenal switch operation,” said Ken Clare, founder of WLSinfo.

“As a charity, we have many members the length and breadth of the British Isles who have had this procedure. We felt it would be a great opportunity to bring them together to talk about their experience and for potential patients to find out more.”

Designed to help the seriously obese lose weight by making the stomach smaller and diverting the course of the food eaten, the duodenal switch procedure works by reducing the calories being absorbed by the body.

“Before surgery, I had to take 600 units of insulin a day – 12 times the average amount,” says Michael Parker, one of several duodenal switch patients scheduled to address the gathering,

“Since having the operation, I have lost 19 stone, no longer need insulin, my blood sugar levels are normal and my blood pressure is down. I do not have any symptoms of diabetes that plagued me for almost seven years.”

Also speaking at the event was Michael Parker’s surgeon Professor David Kerrigan, medical director of weight loss surgery specialists Gravitas.

An early pioneer of duodenal switch surgery in the UK, Professor Kerrigan is the surgeon who advised the UK government on the NICE obesity guidelines currently in use.

Over the last nine years, he has performed the duodenal switch procedure on over 150 patients, many of whom attended the event.

At the study day, Professor Kerrigan outlined the history of the operation, its results and describe how – for the right patient – the results can be excellent.

Also attending the event will be specialist dieticians who will speak on nutrition, blood monitoring and the importance of aftercare.

Alcohol-Free Week 2012 - Will you take on the Alcohol-Free Challenge?

Will you take on the Alcohol-Free Challenge?

Alcohol-Free Week 22 February – 28 February 2012 -

Alcohol-Free Week 2012 runs from 22 February to 28 February. During this week it is hoped people will be persuaded to abstain from alcohol for all or part of the week.

The aim is to make people more conscious of their drinking habits and help them see how big a role alcohol plays in their lives and how easy, or difficult, it is to do without.

A website has been set up at to help those taking up the Alcohol-Free Week challenge. The website offers tips on drinking wisely, suggestions on alternatives to drinking alcohol and a chance to win alcohol-free drinks every day during Alcohol-Free Week.

Alcohol-Free Week has been running since 2007. Each year businesses, local authorities, health trusts, health promotion agencies and educational institutions have held their own events to mark Alcohol-Free Week.

Organisations getting involved in Alcohol-Free Week include the health and social care service Turning Point which has a series of activities planned.

Alcohol-Free Week is sponsored by de-alcoholised and non-alcoholic drinks producers and is backed by the charity FAS Aware UK that promotes alcohol awareness in pregnancy.

The event is organised by the country's leading online alcohol-free drinks specialist retailers The Alcohol-Free Shop and the Lono Drinks Co.

Christine Risby from The Alcohol-Free Shop said: “We are encouraging people to give up alcohol for a weekend or the whole week. Health experts advise that we should have at least two alcohol-free days a week. We hope Alcohol-Free Week will inspire people to look honestly at the amount they drink and adopt a healthier lifestyle.”

Studies by the Cancer Research charity have found that consuming even moderate amounts of alcohol every day increases the risk of some cancers by 10% and, health experts warn, can cause serious liver damage.

(EDITOR: It should be noted, however, for balance, that there is strong evidence that some so-called soft drinks can be extremely harmful, causing damage to teeth (which has nothing to do with the sugar content!)  and so on.)

Saturday, 18 February 2012

That's Books: The Ten Questions to Ask For Success

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Wednesday, 15 February 2012

That's Books: A Dictionary of Forensic Science

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Sunday, 12 February 2012

Boost your health, but don't run up huge bills!

Improve Your Health on a budget
It’s now mid February, the new year’s resolutions to keep fit and join the gym are long gone, however the thought of improving your wellbeing still looms as the country is constantly reminded of growing obesity levels, heart disease, depression and cancer in even the younger generations.

Whilst a gym membership may seem daunting, not only to your schedule but to your bank balance, but there is an alternative to huffing and puffing on the treadmill for a lot less money. Walking. The idea is simple, but incredibly effective. Various medical researches have shown that just 30 minutes of walking per day can actually reduce the risk of heart disease by a huge 30-50%. Many people are also surprised to find how easy it is to fit these 30 minutes into the average day.

Many people assume that you have to pop on your pair of new running shoes in order to make a huge difference. However, small swaps can be made and easily integrated into a daily routine; walking to the local shop rather than driving, taking the stairs rather than the lift or escalator- even walking around the supermarket doing your weekly shop for 30mins will help improve your fitness levels (even better if the trolley is full!). Best of all, these options come with no extra cost! So there’s no need to sign a year’s contract to get fit, you can get your lifetime contract for free and reap the benefits as you get older.

For further information, please visit

(EDITOR: A pair of sensible walking shoes from Sports Direct have certainly help me with my aim to walk at least two miles a day.)

Love can make us slim: JENNY CRAIG’s calorie-free Valentine’s Ideas

With Valentine’s Day coming up, many dieters are starting to worry about the chocolates, bottles of Champagne and luxury dinners their dates might offer them. The majority of people who are trying to lose weight with Jenny Craig have asked their personal consultants how to survive Valentine’s Day without going astray. The good news is that romance is far from an obstacle on the road to a slimmer self. Independent research shows that contrary to popular belief, being in a relationship can help people achieve permanent weight loss.

Social Support
The Australian researchers V. Burke, N. Giangiulio and their team found that, though people who live together as a couple tend to gain weight at a similar pace, they also achieve better results when they decide to fight the flab as a couple.

Dietitians stress the importance of support from family and friends to sustain behaviour change, which is essential for permanent weight loss.

Jacqui Morrell, JENNY CRAIG dietitian, says: “Sometimes, partners are reluctant to accommodate changes to eating patterns. In that case, support may have to be sought outside the family. That’s why JENNY CRAIG’s weight management programme combines meals with personal consultancy.

“Social support can take many forms, depending on the situation of the individual. It may be simply asking your partner to join you in an activity such as going for a walk, or planning your shopping list together. Banning brimming biscuit tins from the house and surplus wine bottles from the rack should be a joint effort. Helping your partner stick to his or her weight loss programme is a way of showing that you care for him or her.”

Calorie-free Valentine’s Gifts
A box of chocolates is not the most thoughtful present for someone who is trying to control their weight! Fortunately, there are plenty of other ways to indulge that special someone. The JENNY CRAIG top 5 Valentine’s Day presents are:

1. Roses – just as romantic and traditional as chocolates
2. A romantic stroll by the riverbank or around a local beauty spot – some wonderful together time and your exercising!
3. A fabulous new dress for her or a shirt for him – go on, show off that new body!
4. Fragrant massage oil – and a long, loving back rub
5. A pair of salsa shoes and an introductory salsa dance lesson – try something new to go with your new energy!

And to celebrate Valentine’s Day, JENNY CRAIG will be sharing the love with a 50% discount off a 2 week programme. That’s all your meals AND your own personal weight loss consultant for just £38.50 a week /£5.50 a day (+ delivery charge). Call 0800 917 5540 or visit .

Saturday, 11 February 2012

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Thursday, 9 February 2012

Sunday, 5 February 2012

ExtraCare Charitable Trust Introduces Alternative to Traditional Care Homes

The ExtraCare Charitable Trust offers older people the opportunity to enjoy a healthier and more independent lifestyle in a community which represents an alternative to the traditional care homes. The trust has announced its plans to create a new state-of-the –art retirement village in the heart of Coventry, just a short walk from the city centre.

The new complex will be Coventry’s first retirement village and will look to house around 350 senior citizens. Aiming to be finished by 2015, ExtraCare has earmarked Earlsdon Park as the most popular area which will play host to a food store, restaurant, theatre, hotel and cafe amongst other amenities.

The new village will feature a range of homes available for purchase or rent which will be offered to prospective residents aged 55 or over. As well as creating a vibrant and engaging hub for older people to build a new home, there are plans to build a library, well being centre, gym, IT suite and greenhouse for residents to pass their time and build a community around.

ExtraCare is committed to creating a more independent living experience for the residents, in a step away from the traditional care homes across the country. There will, however, be 24 hour support through the Well Being Centre for any residents requiring help.

Any families interested in discovering more about the ExtraCare communities and the holistic approach towards the new residential complexes are invited to register their interest via the website. Click here to navigate straight to the site and find out more.

Half of us are overweight, but 84% of New Year’s Weight Loss Resolutions still going strong

Although normally only 12% of our New Year’s Resolutions succeed, British dieters have found an effective method to incorporate their resolutions in their lives. A hefty 84% of people who have joined the JENNY CRAIG programme in 2012 are still sticking to their diet plans, and on average, they have lost 5.58lbs during the first 3 weeks of the year.

Independent research shows in 2011, exactly half of all British adults thought of themselves as overweight. 40% of British men felt this way about themselves, versus 59% of British women. What’s even more shocking is the way people dealt with their worries about their weight and health. The same research showed that 39% of the female and 23% of the male population said that they were trying to lose weight most of the time, and 14% of all Brits admitted that they often skip a meal in order to lose some weight.

Jacqui Morrell, JENNY CRAIG dietician, says: “Skipping meals actually works against weight loss. Your metabolism will slow down if you don’t eat, which makes it more difficult to lose weight. On the JENNY CRAIG programme, we encourage people to have 3 meals and 3 snacks throughout the day.”

In 2007, the British psychologist Richard Wiseman studied 3000 people in the UK and discovered that 88% of our serious New Year’s resolutions are abandoned prematurely. Since the most popular New Year’s resolution is weight loss, it’s impressive that 84% of people who made the New Year’s resolution to lose weight with Jenny Craig are still going strong.

Jacqui Morrell says: “The key to JENNY CRAIG’s success is our very personal approach. If you’re on JENNY CRAIG, we prepare and deliver portion and calorie controlled food which spans a range of cuisines and is also incredibly tasty.

"Clients have their own personal consultant who calls at a convenient time every week to discuss how it’s going and to inspire you to keep up the good work as you successfully lose weight. And if you have any questions throughout the week, clients can always get in touch with one of the consultants. It really is one of the ultimate weight loss programmes – you’ll never look back!”

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Voluntary carers highlighted as unsung heroes in national competition from

The launch of a national campaign to find a local hero to be named “Most Deserving” and receive the gift of £10,000 towards a car, plus a donation of £2,500 donation to the charity of their choice has highlighted the vital role unpaid carers across the country play.

Leading used cars website launched the competition to champion local heroes in January and has been over-whelmed by the response. Nominees include several high profile charity campaigners, including a Paralympic athlete, but many private carers with spouses and other family members who are depend on them have also been singled out for praise.

Phil Jones, commercial director at calls for family and friends to get behind their nominees and nominate individuals who they believe are special: “We’re hearing some life-affirming stories about people who do great work without reward. It is clear there are many people around the country whose quality of life is dependent on the generosity of un-rewarded carers.”

Nominations are still open and there is no limit on the number of times a nominee can be named. You can read updates about the nominations so far at

As well as the reward for the eventual winner, will soon be announcing details of a new prize draw for those who take the time to vote in nominations stage.

Messages about the nominees include:
For Terry in Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire: “Terry is a remarkable woman who is always thinking of others. She and her husband have been respite carers and now do a lot of work helping people with M.E. She is one of the least selfish people I know. Remarkable.”

About Sharon in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire: “My neighbour Sharon has a gorgeous son who we all love, however as a baby he suffered from meningitis which has slowed his development and made life very hard for them all. Sharon has three children, and despite her eldest son needing so much of her love and care and attention, her other two children are a real credit to her and her husband Mark.”

Describing Joanna in Nottingham: “Joanna is the most kindhearted person I know. She never hesitates to offer her help, even if it compromises her own life.”

Charities and organisations associated with the nominees so far include –

Make your nomination here

(EDITOR: If readers of That's Health would be so kind as to forward this story to anyone they think could benefit, please do so!)