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Archive for May, 2007

MPs back nurses over pay claim

Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

More than 180 MPs have backed calls for the government to give nurses this year’s pay award in full instead of in two stages. The Royal College of Nursing is taking the unprecedented step of balloting 300,000 nurses working in the NHS to ask if they would support a ballot for industrial action.The government has proposed giving nurses their 2.5 per cent pay increase in two stages, a 1.5 per cent rise from April followed by a further one per cent rise in November.The RCN says the award is the equivalent of a below-inflation rise of 1.9 per cent, and will save the government £60m.

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Judy Viitanen and PRimage understand that so far 186 MPs have either written to the union expressing their support or have signed early day motions calling for a fair deal for nurses.  We are also sure that the nurses pay clam will have the support of the general public as well.  PRimage believe they deserve it!  Do you agree?

Health warning on all alcohol

Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

Health warnings will appear on all booze bottles and cans from the end of next year. A “know your limit” message will detail how much is safe to drink. Health campaigners won a three-year battle yesterday to force producers to label alcohol more clearly.They say drinkers would be more careful if they knew the strength of their tipple.

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Judy Viitanen thinks this is a notable win for the health campaigners lobbyists on this issue – and is aware that their victory came when public health minister Caroline Flint struck a deal for a voluntary code with the drinks industry.

Mums-to-be advised to cut out all booze

Friday, May 25th, 2007

Women who are pregnant or trying for a baby should cut out alcohol entirely, the Department of Health has stated in new uidance.Existing medical advice recommends that pregnant women or women trying to conceive should limit their alcohol intake and avoid getting drunk.Now the Government says it has advised cutting out booze entirely because some women underestimate the risks drinking alcohol can have on their baby.The guidance has been given after a survey found 9% of pregnant women were still drinking more than is advisable. Ministers believe the previous advice could suggest it is safe to drink “a little” when pregnant, but the definition of this can vary from person to person.

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In Judy Viitanen’s view this advice is long overdue — PRimage take on this is that it’s selfish and potentially damaging for pregnant women to smoke or drive alcohol.  Do you agree?

“Designer vagina” craze criticised

Friday, May 25th, 2007

The BMJ has criticised a fast-growing trend in the United States and Britain for “designer vaginas,” the tabloid term for cosmetic surgery to the female genitalia.The fashion is being driven by commercial and media pressures that exploit women’s insecurities and is fraught with unknowns, including a risk to sexual arousal, the British Medical Journal (BMJ) says.Known as elective genitoplasty, the surgery usually entails shortening or changing the shape of the outer lips, or labia, but may also include reduction in the hood of skin covering the clitoris or shortening the vagina itself.

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Judy Viitanen and PRimage understand that anecdotal evidence suggests that the practice is spreading fast in the United States as well as in Britain.  However, the picture is unclear, the BMJ says.

Will Hi-tech healthcare at home be a hit with patients?

Friday, May 25th, 2007

Health secretary Patricia Hewitt has announced new sites that will use hi-tech home healthcare to help older people, and those with long-term conditions, to lead more independent lives – helping to prevent emergency or unexpected admissions to hospital. Telehealth monitoring devices help people with long-term conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes, to monitor and manage their condition. People test their blood glucose levels or blood pressure on a small machine at home. The results are monitored by healthcare professionals who can alert patients with any concerns. The local GP surgery can also monitor the patient remotely.

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Judy Viitanen believes this could be a workable initiative – which will be welcomed by the elderly and those with ong-term conditions as a valued means to enabl them to live more independent lives.  What’s your opinion on this?

Call for October bank holiday

Friday, May 25th, 2007

Union leaders and voluntary groups have called for a new national bank holiday to celebrate the amount of community activities which take place across the UK.The TUC and a number of voluntary organisations said a new bank holiday should be held in October in a bid to encourage more people to do voluntary work.The day could also provide an opportunity for the country to recognise the importance of volunteers and community groups, it was argued.A new holiday at the end of October should particularly appeal to incoming Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the groups argued, as he has called for a new day to bring the people of Britain together to celebrate their shared values.

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Judy Viitanen and the PRimage team think this is a good idea; in our view there are too many Bank holidays in the Spring and early Summer – what’s your view?

US minimum wage to get $2 boost

Friday, May 25th, 2007

The minimum wage in the US is to rise by $2.10 per hour, to $7.25 from its current level of $5.15, the first time it has increased in a decade. The US Congress voted in favour of the rise, which was attached to a bill funding the Iraq war. Democrats promised to boost the minimum wage when they won control of Congress in elections in 2006. The increase will be phased in over a two-year period and will accompanied by tax breaks for small businesses.

How long can Hewitt survive?

Thursday, May 24th, 2007

After yesterday’s taunts from the Tories that she had “no credibility left” and had “lost the confidence of the NHS”, Judy Viitanen and the PRimage team wonder how much longer Patricia Hewitt can hold on as Secretary of State for Health?

During yesterday’s commons debate and vote of no confidence, Ms Hewitt said it was “one of the greatest privileges” to be health secretary and insisted she was not taking any lectures from the Tories, who had “starved” the NHS of funds!  Rich from the Labour Health Secretary who has been at the helm of the biggest mismanagement and cock-up of NHS finances in recent years!

The PRimage view is that Hewitt’s days are numbered – and we predict she will be one of the first scalps that Brown will have when he takes over as PM and announces a much-needed cabinet re-shuffle.

Government backs pharmacist access to EPR

Thursday, May 24th, 2007

The government has backed plans for pharmacists to be allowed access to electronic patient records, but says the public will be consulted on consent and confidentiality issues.

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Judy Viitanen believes this is excellent news for pharmacy.  With pharmacy client interests, PRimage is aware that all the major pharmacy organisations have called for pharmacists to have read and write access to the NHS Care Records Service, but pharmacy access to the NHS Spine is currently restricted to the Electronic Prescription Service (EPS).

Men at greater risk from cancer

Thursday, May 24th, 2007

A new report claims that men are nearly twice as likely as women to develop and die from virtually all cancers that can affect both sexes. Tackling the excess incidence of cancer in men says that particular attention needs to be paid to the need for ‘male sensitive’ communication strategies.

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PRimage agree absolutely with this report – and its recommendation that attention needs to be paid to the need for ‘male sensitive’ communication strategies. As managing director of a specialist healthcare communications agency, Judy Viitanen feels passionately that greater efforts are needed to make men aware of the vital importance in taking care of their health, monitoring and responding to symptoms – and to follow a healthy lifestyle.  High profile communcation messaging and PR awareness campaigns are ugently needed!  On a personal level, Judy lost her first husband to bowel cancer – a very treatable cancer if caught early; but sadly he ignored early warning symptoms and didn’t seek medical advice untill it was to late.