With this month’s devastating news regarding Typhoon Haiyan and its destructive path through south-east Asia, it was heart-warming to see the world rush to help those countries worst affected. In the UK, British aid and rescue teams got straight to work helping crews from across the globe setting up makeshift hospital tents and performing essential surgery on the ground. In addition to our work with our charity of the year the Back Up Trust we held a fake or bake fundraiser to help make a difference to those affected in south-east Asia.
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Closer to home and a re-entry to the top 20 this month was Accident and Emergency admissions. The UK’s emergency services are preparing for the ‘worst winter yet’ as A&E admissions hit a record high. Dr Mary Bernadette Garrihy, a board member at the College of Emergency Medicine stated that the government’s allotment to ease the pressure on A&E services was ‘a drop in the ocean’. Matters were not helped with the closure of more than 50 of the UK’s 238 walk-in centres causing a rise in emergency hospital admissions. However, NHS Medical Director Sir Bruce Keogh has said that his new report will “expose the illusion that all A&E departments are equally able to deal with anything that comes through the door”. One of his suggestions has been to integrate more services such as GP clinics and pharmacies to deliver services together as a way of relieving the pressure from A&E departments.
Cancer jumps up the list in the news this month as studies have shown a discrepancy in wealth and survival rates. The data collected by Macmillan Cancer Support and The National Cancer Intelligence Network showed that cancer patients from the most affluent areas are one third more likely to survive than those living in poorer neighbourhoods. This report comes after a Cancer Research UK funded study concluded that women from less affluent areas were more likely to die due to late diagnosis of breast cancer. The reason is simpler than one might think according to Dr Gary Abel, a statistician at Cambridge and the study’s author, who stated that the most probable cause “may be a combination of these woman [from less affluent backgrounds] being less aware of breast cancer symptoms and a greater reluctance to see their GP”.
Nutrition has once again made it in the top 20 coming in at rank six, which may come in handy as we prepare for the Christmas festivities. Researchers at the Osaka University found that consuming at least two sugary soft drinks per day increased liver dysfunction. This and growing data in the field have led some British researchers in calling the UK government to place a 20% tax on soft drinks as a way of reducing nutritional health risks. In the US the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced its new proposal of banning all trans-fats. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention have stated that the removal of such fats could prevent 7,000 deaths from heart disease in the US each year. Mexico has gone one step further by introducing the world’s first ‘junk food’ tax set to be made law at the beginning of next year. Just in time for the January health kick!
And finally, the leader of the A&E service review said the NHS could learn a few things from supermarkets this month, mentioning how these use weather forecasts to predict what shoppers will want suggesting that the NHS could become more flexible in how it predicts emergencies. Something to consider whilst doing your weekly shopping.
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 2013.