Aurora top 20, October 2013 news analysis

Well, October is now well and truly behind us, and what a stormy October it has been, both on the weather front and in the health news! St Jude was nearly the storm that never was, but to the relief of the meteorologists on the last Monday of the month it hit. As the winds howled, many of us at Aurora had to apply creative problem-solving to even get into work due to a multitude of road closures and public transport cancellations. Despite the flurry of gale force wind stories, there has still been plenty of health related news in the papers.

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For the second month running, NHS staff / recruitment issues continue to be a turbulent topic for debate and have topped the chart. This month saw Dr Andy Mitchell, NHS medical director for London, warning that staff shortages could affect NHS care and that the idea of free treatment could be reaching the point of being ‘unstable’. He ‘promised’ that Governmental spending on the NHS has been ring-fenced from cuts, but a drive for efficiency led by Jeremy Hunt, secretary of state for health, may present a stumbling block towards delivering on the promise due to service understaffing.

On a more positive note for patients, Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, the NHS medical director, has pledged to ensure that people will be able to access NHS consultants and GPs seven days a week. That would hopefully mean no more having to take time off work to attend that GP appointment.

October seems to be the time where many attempt to change their behaviour (even three months ahead of the New Year). As smoking remained in the charts at number 11, an estimated 248,860 people across the UK took part in Stoptober, giving up smoking for 28 days. In the same month, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have finally succumbed to lobbyists over the banning of cigarettes across Europe. By 2016, packs of 10 cigarettes are expected to be removed from shelves, as they are favoured by younger people who have just started to smoke, followed by a phasing out of menthol cigarettes by 2022.

Exercise has made a fast track entry into the top 20, and it could not be more perfectly timed as two of the Aurora team, both DiscoDave and FitnessFreak, have managed to secure places in the London Marathon to run for our resident charity Back Up. On the other end of the scale, health news reported on a debate as to whether doing chores around the house, such as hovering, qualified as strenuous enough to count as exercise. The fact is, research from the Ramblers and Macmillan Cancer Support has shown that if everyone walked for 150 minutes a week (that’s just 20 minutes a day) it could save up to 37,000 lives each year.

And finally, there is some great news for the chocoholics amongst you. A dark chocolate called Acticoa, which contains health-boosting flavanols, has been shown to increase the elasticity of blood vessels by 1-2% making blood easier to flow. This health claim has recently been approved by the EU Commission, now we can all validate our argument that eating chocolate is good for you.

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 September to 25 October 2013.

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