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Archive for October, 2007

Hospital superbugs

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

PRimage has read in today’s Guardian that the government’s committment and drive to combat the crucial problem of hospital superbugs is being undermined by a simmering row between the Department of Health and the NHS standards watchdog …. watch this space!

Dentistry: Professor Elizabeth Davenport Chair of Overseas Registration Examination Board

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

Judy Viitanen and the PRimage team were interested to learn that the GDC has announced that Professor Elizabeth Davenport has been appointed as Chair of a new board to ensure the successful delivery of the GDC’s new examination for overseas dentists applying to work in the UK – the Overseas Registration Examination (ORE). As Professor of Dental Education and Director of Quality with the Institute of Dentistry at Barts and The London Queen Mary’s School of Medicine and Dentistry, she brings over 30 years of dentistry experience to the position.
PRimage understand that the ORE has replaced the International Qualifying Examination as the statutory examination which tests the clinical skills and knowledge of overseas dentists (non-EEA) who wish to apply for registration to practise in the UK.

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Out-of-hours care inadequate – PRimage agree!

Monday, October 29th, 2007

PRimage was interested to read the news reports this morning on comments from the Royal College of Physicians that out-of-hours care outside of hospitals is “largely inadequate and inflexible” and needs to be reformed.  We totally agree with this new report.

This current difficulty is because since new GP contracts were introduced in 2004, many of our family doctors and local NHS GP surgeries have been allowed to opt out of providing a round-the-clock service for patients. And the responsibility for those services has shifted to primary care trusts, which as PRimage understand employ in-house doctor teams, co-operatives and private firms to do the job …. problem is they often don’t do a good enough job!

It’s very confusing for patients to know exactly who they should go to if they’re unwell late at night or over the week-end. PRimage MD, Judy Viitanen had experience of this dilemma last week-end when her daughter was ill. She initially went to the local pharmacy, where the very helpful pharmacist gave her some good advice and an OTC medicine, but stressed that she should see a doctor as soon as possible because she needed antibiotics … We couldn’t access our NHS surgery, so in the end we contacted a private GP, who made a home visit within 30 minutes of our phone call – but the cost was £60 for the home visit, pus the cost of a private prescription.

Polyclinics – PRimage agree Pharmacists have a role to play

Friday, October 26th, 2007

Judy Viitanen was interested to learn that at yesterday’s Health Select Comittee Inquiry, in response to a question from Labour MP, Dr Howard Stoate, the Health Minister, Lord Darzi said he saw a considerable role for pharmacists in polyclinics, particularly in preventative health matters and improving the quality of prescribing and allocation of budgets.

PRimage are in total agreement with Lord Darzi on this – and we urge him to make his views a reality, for the benefits of the NHS and the most important people of all- – patients!

Pharmacies should have access to patients’ electronic healthcare records

Friday, October 26th, 2007

PRimage listened to a very good interview on Radio 4′s You and Yours programme yesterday with Alex MacKinnon of Community Pharmacy Scotland.  He called for high street chemists to be given access to parts of patients’ confidential medical records. 

Judy Viitanen agrees with his comment: “What we would like is access to the appropriate part of the electronic healthcare record, the medication history for medicines prescribed, allergies and any information of adverse reactions.”

He added: “Government policy agenda is keen to make better use of the key skills of community pharmacists, involving them in more healthcare roles, public health, minor ailment service, supplementary prescribing and eventually full independent prescribing. “Community pharmacists are playing an increasingly vital roll in delivery of unscheduled care on Saturdays, weekends and on bank holidays and basically over a third, almost 37%, of all calls to NHS 24 have a notable pharmaceutical element.”

PRimage say ‘bring it on’!

Breast Cancer Awareness Month – PRimage ‘pretty in pink’!

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

Judy Viitanen, PRimage Managing Director and her team are supporting the Breast Cancer Campaign in its award winning ‘wear it pink day’ tomorrow, Friday 26 October, as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month – and we urge you to join in too …. make tomorrow a pink extravaganza!

So what do you have to do? Well, it couldn’t be easier. Whether you are in an office, at school, or simply doing the shopping, on 26 October donate £2 to Breast Cancer Campaign and wear an item of pink – anything you like, lots of pink, a little bit of pink, as long as it’s pink. Judy and the PRimage ladies plan to dress head to toe in pink (our favourite colour) – and our chaps will be sporting pink ties and hankies as well!

Last year’s wear it pink day raised an amazing £3 million for breast cancer research and helped to fund over forty new research projects in the United Kingdom. This year the campaign and its supporters, like Judy Viitanen, want to raise more! So come on, go pink tomorrow – Your donation and support will allow the Campaign to continue researching the cure and help the one woman in nine in the UK that will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.

Judy Viitanen says

“As a specialist healthcare communications company, PRimage totally support this important campaign. Breast Cancer Campaign is the only charity that specialises in funding independent breast cancer research throughout the UK. Their research looks at improving diagnosis and treatment, better understanding how breast cancer develops and ultimately either curing the disease or preventing it.

Every year nearly 44,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer. Like many others, we know people who have lost friends and family members to breast cancer. So we are encouraging all our friends, family, neighbours, clients and business collegeagues to support wear it pink day on October 26 to help raise valuable funds for breast cancer research.”

Please help Breast Cancer Campaign reach its target of £3.5 million and take part in the UK’s original and best pink day. To register and to receive your free fundraising pack either call freephone 0800 107 3104; or visit www.wearitpink.co.uk

Abortion row continues – PRimage view on this controversial issue

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007

It is 40 years since abortion was legalised in Britain, and as a specialist healthcare communications agency PRimage is following the current developments and debate as the bitter row over the 24-week upper limit for abortions escalates. It seems that according to a new research survey the majority of Britons think it should be made easier for women to have an abortion. Currently it is necessary for a woman seeking a termination to get the signatures of two doctors before it can go ahead, but the survey reveals that 35 per cent believe women should only need the permission of one doctor, while 43 per cent said they thought the current law should remain in place. Judy Viitanen agrees with this.

And today the Health minister Dawn Primarolo is set for a showdown with MPs. She is expected to tell the Science and Technology Committee that the maximum time should not be reduced. However, PRimage hear that she is likely to face a tough time from members such as Mid Bedfordshire MP Nadine Dorries – who yesterday suggested the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists may have deliberately submitted misleading evidence to the inquiry.

Judy Viitanen believes this already bitter row has been further inflamed by the latest comment by Lord Steel, the architect of the 1967 Abortion Act, that too many abortions were now taking place. What’s your view on this controversial debate?

5 easy steps to improve your health: Advice from Day Lewis Pharmacy Group and PRimage

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

In response to the Health Profile of England 2007 report from the Department of Health, which shows that people living in northern England are more likely than their southern neighbours to smoke and drink to excess, and that their mental health is poorer and life expectancy is up to three years shorter than in the south, PRimage client, the Day Lewis Pharmacy Group is reminding the public of the 5 easy steps to good health, and how their local Day Lewis pharmacy team can help.

Talking to PRimage’s Judy Viitanen, Peter Glover, Day Lewis Managing Director and Superintendent Pharmacist comments:

This new report highlights some disturbing health inequalities – and shows that England has the highest level of obesity in Europe. So if you feel that you need to make some changes to improve your health, it’s worth remembering that as well as supplying your medicines, your local Day Lewis pharmacy is an accessible source for a variety of health services. Our highly qualified pharmacists can provide a range of health tips and confidential medical advice with making changes in your life to improve your health and wellbeing – from stopping smoking to getting fit generally.”

“Many of our branches offer support programmes for giving up smoking or losing weight and can measure blood pressure, offer cholesterol-testing and even screen for diabetes. They can also give you information on who to contact for specialist help and counselling on all manner of issues.”

Your 5 Steps to Good Health

1. Quitting smoking at any age will reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, chronic bronchitis and several other smoking related health conditions. The earlier you quit, the greater the health benefit. Ask your Day Lewis pharmacist for advice on nicotine replacement therapies to help you quit smoking.

2. Eat a healthy diet. Eat a variety of foods, including fruit, vegetables, animal or vegetable protein (such as meat, fish, chicken, eggs, beans, lentils or tofu) and grains (such as rice). Limit the amount of saturated fat you eat. Cutting down on caffeine, sugar and alcohol will also help you achieve a healthier, more active lifestyle

3. Be physically active. Walk, dance, ride a bike, rake leaves, or do any other physical activity you enjoy. Research shows just 30 minutes of moderate activity each day can improve health and reduce the risk of developing certain conditions or diseases.

4. Maintain at a healthy weight. Balance the number of calories you eat with the number you burn off by your activities. Remember to watch portion sizes. If you are unsure about your weight, ask your Day Lewis pharmacist to help you work out your body mass index (BMI).

5. Drink alcohol only in moderation. If you drink alcohol, have no more than two standard drinks a day.  

Health map of England – PRimage ponder on the north-south divide

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

Judy Viitanen was fascinated by today’s top healthcare news from the Department of Health which shows that people living in northern England are more likely than their southern neighbours to smoke and drink to excess. It also appears that their mental health is poorer and life expectancy is up to three years shorter than in the south. And there’s more bad news on the obesity time-bomb, as the DoH report reveals that England has the highest rate of obesity in Europe.

PRimage believe that Health Secretary Alan Johnson and the DoH clearly have a lot of public health challenges ahead to tackle obesity, improve diet and activity levels, get more people to quit smoking and promote safe and sensible drinking.  Community pharmacies can play a valuable and significant role in getting the healthy living message across to the public – so we hope that health ministers will make good use of their expertise and the easy accessability of pharmacies.

Prescription costs – PRimage applaud Scots plan to axe charges, but calls for a review of the system in England!

Monday, October 22nd, 2007

PRimage applaud Scottish Ministers who have pledged to abolish all prescription charges north of the border – with prescriptions in Scotland available free of charge within four years. However, although this is great news for Scottish patients, millions of patients in England are still expected to pay for vital medication.

Judy Viitanen, PRimage managing Director, has done extensive communications work and lobbying around the anomolies and inequity of prescription charges. She has issued press comment and discussion papers on this – and has campaigned policy makers to stress the need for an extensive review of the system in England. We strongly believe that Government should listen to the validity of the argument to totally abolish prescription charges! Do you agree?

As a specialist healthcare communications agency, PRimage believe that if one accepts the concept of the NHS being free at the point of delivery, then there is a strong and valid arguement for the total abolition of script charges across the UK – not just in Wales and Scotland. Our view is that this would significantly reduce patient inequity. Although exemption arrangements mean that over 85% of prescriptions are dispensed without charge, PRimage feel that the current prescription charge of £6.85 per item is still a hefty outlay and cost for many people – especially those patients who are on multiple medication, or have a long-term medical condition for which script exemption cost does not apply.

Through our client contacts within the community pharmacy sector, Judy Viitanen and the PRimage team know that many local pharmacists around the country have first-hand anecdotal feedback from patients about the costs of prescriptions. What’s your view and experience?

PRimage also agree with today’s Telegraph, which suggests that this latest news also highlights the public services ”apartheid” between England and Scotland – and is the starkest example yet of the “unfairness” of the current funding arrangement, with English taxpayers forced to pay towards improvements to health care and education available only in Scotland. Scottish residents already have access to free eye care and dental check ups, free personal care for the elderly, extra central heating grants and a number of drugs deemed “too costly” for the National Health Service in England and Wales. Can this be fair? Judy Viitanen and the PRimage don’t think so. Do you?