Winter is finally here and the Aurora team has unpacked cosy scarves and winter coats to fend off the cold. It looks like a long winter for the NHS too as four of the top six spots are occupied by stories of negligence, social care challenges and recruitment issues. Private healthcare re-entered the tables this month at number 16 with a similarly cold reception as budgets were overspent and high prices mean fewer people are taking private health insurance.
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Vaccination is a new entry in the top 20 this month as the annual flu vaccine campaigns were stepped up. This year’s uptake by at-risk groups has been lower than expected, raising concerns that people are complacent after last year’s mild winter and corresponding low incidence of influenza. News that experts are failing to research better vaccines, as they believe the current vaccines are highly effective, was countered by researchers at Oxford University who are developing a universal ‘flu vaccine that could protect against swine and bird ‘flu as well as all the seasonal varieties. If you need another reason to get your annual shot, then research showed that ‘flu vaccines may also protect against heart attacks and stroke.
Influenza was not the only vaccine in the news this month as the Department of Health announced that babies will be vaccinated against rotavirus, a common childhood virus causing diarrhoea and vomiting. 95 per cent of children are infected with rotavirus before their fifth birthday and the Government believes routine vaccination could save the NHS £20million. For adults, diarrhoea and vomiting were also in the news as norovirus swept the country earlier than usual, making viral disease another new entry (at 11). Cases of norovirus are already 27 per cent higher than last year.
One of the highlights of the winter, Christmas, is nearly here and talk of food is hotting up. Here at Aurora we’ve cracked open the chocolates, mince pies and twiglets in anticipation. However, junk food like this has been getting bad press this month as obesity creeps back into the top 20. This month supermarkets have been accused of favouring promotions on unhealthy foods, fuelling the obesity crisis. Excess weight is responsible for increasing numbers of people suffering with knee pain. If the problem continues then this could place the NHS under increased stress as the number of knee replacement operations could soar.
And finally, after October’s bad news for coffee-lovers, the Aurora team was delighted to read about a study in the journal Cancer Epidemiology showing that drinking tea could significantly reduce the risk of ovarian cancer. Tea is a top beverage all year round in our office and with the cold weather settled in we’re drinking even more of it at the moment, so this has settled our minds about our hot drink habits.
Aurora strives to apply quantitative, qualitative and emotional understanding of health issues to client communication programmes. Dove-tailing informed PR activity with the media’s appetite enables us to assist clients with communicating their vision. The top 20 chart provides our interpretative snap-shot of health stories in the national press and is based upon a quantitative process. Analysis based on news from the 26 October to 25 November.