Friday, June 29, 2007

Cuddle Power

Today the BBC reported how Japanese women are buying the ultimate sleeping partner. As the picture illustrates it's a pillow with a 'built in comfort' to cuddle up to. It's shaped like a man's torso but is guaranteed not to snore or disturb them in the middle of the night.
Apparently, they have been selling in droves and Japanese women say they are good for well-being! For more information see here.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Can he Deliver?

So what omen does the new Secretary of State for Health bring with him? It seems ironic that the former postman takes over the helm of the health service exactly the same day as threatened postal strikes. However, putting that aside it’s a big chance for the health of our nation, if he can get it right.

There is no doubt the job is a great privilege and challenge. There will be much for him to learn and understand, but if he asked for three points on the first day of his new post, I would say:

First, 'put patients first'. It’s imperative for patients to be thought of in front of bureaucrats and quangocrats.
Second, the NHS should be there for patients and not be used as a political football.
Third, as there are calls for the NHS to be depoliticised; accountability should remain.

Although nobody will want to remember Patricia Hewitt, her legacy was of frequent political, ill-thought through legislation, whilst she refused to be accountable for her results. That must change.

Alan Johnson, my three words to you are ‘Patients, Patients, Patients.’
Good luck!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

And Finally...

Patricia Hewitt has finally ceased to be Health Minister.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Cameron on the NHS

As we await the new leadership of the labour party, below is a clip from webcameron, explaining how the Department of Health will go public.

Working Women

Today Doctors.Net reported that according to a new study nearly two thirds of medical graduates are now women and most want flexible working arrangements. In fact 58% of doctors who graduated last year were women and a fifth of these expect to need part-time work during their careers. The study recruited some 435 graduates last year to take part in a ten year study of their career development and found that many were already showing signs of demoralisation.

These figures clearly show that work force planning will be necessary for the NHS. With current unemployment problems of the 'Modernising Medical Careers', it may be worth considering the impact of part time posts, perhaps there will need to be more doctors, not less.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Laurel and Hardy Politics

As the NHS awaits a new Prime Minister and the removal of Patricia Hewitt, hospitals have been left with yet 'another fine mess' to sort out. Nobody could have missed the Modernising Medical Careers debacle. It has been left to hospitals to save the day, as they scramble to fill medical jobs in time to ensure patient safety. This is no small under taking, as doctors have all been forced to change jobs on the same day (1st August) in a way which has never happened before... and will never happen again.

So, what does the future hold under new Gordon Brown leadership? There are mumblings that he will increase NHS spending. Hence, exactly the same idea he's had for the past ten years, which hardly inspires the feeling of a fresh start. Knowing the government's capacity for money to be wasted long before it reaches patients, leaves me with the concern that there will be more Laurel and Hardy NHS policies. There is no prize for guessing which one in the picture represents Brown.... but the person he 'points' to be new Secretary of State for Health will have a very important job on his/her hands.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

What's in a Video Game?

Today a video game has been banned from British shops on the ground that it encourages extreme violence and "casual sadism". The video game is believed to have images of the toddler James Bulger, including the unforgetable CCTV image of him being abducted.
Violent acts are commonly believed to increase after exposure to watched or television violence. There may be a reduction in the emotional response to violence, as brains become ‘desensitised’ to viewing on-screen violence. This leaves a potential problem for both viewers and film-makers. Film-makers need to escalate behaviour in order to get the same level of emotional response, whilst the viewer develops desensitisation to viewed violence. A study in 1974 by Drabman and Thomas found that eight year olds were less likely to tell an adult about a fight in the playroom after viewing a violent programme than if they had not seen it. The ongoing debate about the relationship between media violence and aggression is far from resolved. In Britain the link between the two was last in the spotlight following the murder of two year old James Bulger by two teenage boys in 1993. At their trial, Mr Justice Moreland said “It is not for me to pass judgement on their upbringing, but I suspect that exposure to violent video films may, in part, be an explanation.” Let's hope we've learnt from history.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Cameron Keynote Speech

Today I was in Tooting listening to David Cameron give his keynote speech. He described how the re-building of the Conservative Party was well underway. David Cameron used the well-known house analogy, explaining how the centre ground had been prepared, foundations completed and it was now time for the exciting part - watching the house take form, laid brick by brick.

It was a great speech and addressed a wide range of topics with the central theme of social responsibility. It was good to hear a father of three (the day after father's day) talk about the family as the cornerstone of society, suggesting that "It is simply no use talking about opportunity for all unless we give every child in our country the secure start in life that comes from a stable, loving home.”

And it wasn’t just David Cameron who spoke today, there was Philippa Stroud explaining the background to the ‘social justice policy group’, Grant Schapps with his enthusiasm for local communities along with Francis Maude, Mark Clarke and Michael Gove. Overall, David Cameron's speech was a breath of fresh air for the political arena; it was clear he is not going to be building a paper house to be blown in any direction, but a brick house built for the future. The full pdf of his speech can be read here.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Father's Day

Six year old Connie singing on 'Britain's Got Talent' could not fail to bring a smile to the face and warmth to the heart, as she sang in the final and dedicated her song to her dad on father's day. Below is a clip of the six year old and her two supportive parents:

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Who is the Better Spin Doctor - a Princess or a Prime Minister?

As Tony Blair’s long goodbye comes to an end, he offered a final damming report about twenty-four hour media coverage, claiming “the media is a feral beast, tearing people to pieces.” His parting shot asserted that the media make no distinction between fact, comment and news. Instead being more concerned with sensationalising stories and boosting their diminishing ratings.

Yet, it was Tony Blair who built his leadership upon the culture of spin that became the hallmark of New Labour. Even before he became leader in 1994, Tony Blair was courting the media stating, “it is better to ride the tiger’s back than to let it rip your throat out.”

It was under his watch that the ‘Labour media machine’ was well oiled, offered pre-emptive strikes, round the clock monitoring and ruthless spin doctoring. Journalists were handled with a combination of flattery and bullying, given stories if they played ball and frozen out if they did not. Perhaps in recent years the spin became bigger than the man himself, with the unforgettable collision between government and media, over the ‘two war dossiers’ and then the ‘Hutton inquiry’ into Dr Kelly’s death.

His departing speech sounded somewhat reminiscent of Earl Spencer's moving funeral address at Westminster Abbey about the media's 'sneering' reporting of Princess Diana. There is little doubt she would have agreed with the majority of her brothers’ remarks, particularly his line about her being 'the most hunted person of the modern age'. However, the Princess was far from being 'baffled' by the media. On the contrary, all the evidence suggests that she understood them only too well, and worked diligently to bring them 'on side’, as much the wooer as the wooed.

Following the canonization of her memory, it now seems shocking to recall the Princess as she really was. But while she was alive her skill and adeptness at manipulating the media was widely recognised, as was the fact that during the latter years of her 'loveless' marriage to Prince Charles the tabloids had been one of her greatest weapons. Who can forget the poignancy for instance, of that lone shot of her in front of the Taj Mahal and the endless comment it sparked about the Princess's isolation and her 'unrequited love'? She herself set up that famous photograph, and as one tabloid editor put it: 'She was a great politician, a great spin doctor.'

Who knows if Tony Blair will want his very own ‘Taj Mahal’ photo shoot as he leaves Downing Street. But for now, his answer to the media has been in true New Labour style, perhaps the only answer he knows, regulation. He suggested that all media mediums should come under the umbrella of a new ‘European regulatory body’, to be fully accountable to more than just viewing figures and reading ratings. Perhaps this is the most fitting end to his reign. He has ended, ten years on, the same way as he started, wanting and trying to control the headlines.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

An interesting Tale

I was told an interesting tale today, which is as follows:

'A small Hungarian detachment was on military manoeuvres in the Alps. The lieutenant sent a reconnaissance unit out into the icy wilderness just as it began to snow. It snowed for two days and the unit did not return. The lieutenant feared that he had dispatched his people to their deaths, but the third day they returned. The lieutenant asked them how they had made their way back? Yes, they said, we considered ourselves lost and gave up, waiting for the end. Then one of us found a map in his pocket. That gave us hope, we pitched camp, waited for the storm to pass and then took our bearings, and here we are. The lieutenant looked at the map and found to his astonishment, that is was a map of the Pyrenees, not of the Alps at all.' (Albert Szent-Gyorgi)

So, if you're completely lost, any map is better than none at all. It can provide a reference point, a place to start from, the hope that things can change, all of which may become secondary once an activity gets underway.

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Gordon Brown Result

After many amusing comments it seems that out of the 5 types of men classified over the past few days, Gordon Brown has been selected to be most like 'The Man in Charge'. This means that on first impressions, he is admired as one can rely upon his help. However, things to watch out for would be:
He feels mistrustful towards people not under his control.
He may get be concerned if private e mails or conversations are held without his knowledge.
He may believe that without his help one cannot succeed in life.
He questions decisions made by others, and offers his own advice.
He gets annoyed if you don’t follow his advice.
He is proud of his own refusal to give in/ inflexibility.

The one thing which is certainly true about this selection is that he very much will be 'the man in charge' as he takes over as Prime Minister.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Could This be Gordon Brown (5)?

5) The Little Boy
First impressions: He is fun and exciting.
Warning signs: He is not emotionally mature, so he may find it difficult to handle commitment or responsibility.
He takes, whilst others give.
He invests little in personal relationships, he thinks they will run themselves without compromise.
He does not financially plan for the future or for ‘rainy days’ as believes others will be there to help him.
He passively gets by, and has a history of being taken care of by others.

So now the big vote, does Gordon Brown fit into any of these 5 stereotypes? Please comment on whether he is:
1) The Man in Charge
2) The Scriptwriter
3) The Man Without Fault
4) The Invisible Man
5) The Little Boy?
I eagerly await the poll result!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Could This be Gordon Brown (4)?

4) The Invisible Man
First impressions: A quiet shy man who is steady.
Warning signs: He is emotionally restricted and may trust hobbies more than people.
He goes to great lengths to avoid conflict or anger.
He may lack responsiveness and isn’t really “there”.
He rarely initiates or contributes and may suffer with low moods.
After a while, conversations don’t lead to anything new.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Could This be Gordon Brown (3)?

3) The Man Without Fault
First impressions: He feels his life is more valuable than anyone else’s
Warning signs: He is unable to self-reflect or take responsibility for his actions and/or feelings.
Relationships revolve around him.
He overvalues his own achievements and dismisses any negative impact that his behaviour may have on others.
He is prone to moralising.
If his feelings are hurt he will attack back with cruelty.
Concerns of others may be trivialised.
He always believes his own future is bright.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Could This be Gordon Brown (2)?

2) The Scriptwriter
First impressions: Opens his heart on the first meeting
Warning signs: Embraces the belief ‘I know you better than you know yourself’
He is convinced that others are never there for him in times of need.
He projects his ideas on to other people, who may the feel coerced into expressing feelings or thoughts which are not their own.
He believes he knows your true motivation
More to follow tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

What Kind of Man is Gordon Brown?

Whilst the United Kingdom await their new Prime Minister, many people are pondering about what type of man Gordon Brown is, and what makes him tick. With this in mind, over the next five days I’ll summarise the types of men psychotherapist Bethany Marshall has identified in her new self-help book entitled Deal Breakers. She believes that there are broadly five different types of men. By the end of the week people will be able to vote on whether Gordon Brown could fit any of these stereotypes.
Lets start today with:

1) The Man in Charge
First impressions: He is admired as one can rely upon his help
Warning signs: He feels mistrustful towards people not under his control.
He may get be concerned if private e mails or conversations are held without his knowledge.
He believes that without his help one cannot succeed in life.
He questions decisions made by others, and offers his own advice.
He gets annoyed if you don’t follow his advice.
One or both of his parents may have dominated him as a child.
He is proud of his own refusal to give in/ inflexibility.

Over the next few days the other choices will be:

2) The Scriptwriter
3) The Man Without Fault
4) The Invisible Man
5) The Little Boy

I shall await the readers verdict with interest!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Ghost of Health

My blog post today is over at ‘The Ghost cabinet’, please do take a look.