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Archive for May, 2008

Labour lows, Tory highs – PRimage comment

Friday, May 30th, 2008

After reading today’s YouGov opinion poll in The Daily Telegraph, which puts Labour on 23 points and the Conservatives on 47 – a substantial lead of 24 points, Judy Viitanen and the PRimage team wonder how much worse things can get for Labour and in particular our ‘clunking fist’ Prime Minister? It seems that Gordon Brown’s popularity and personal rating among voters is the same as Sir John Major’s at his lowest point and worse than Michael Foot!

Worse still for Labour, this 23% rating is the lowest level of support for the Party since Gallup first asked people to declare their voting intention in 1943. After their Crewe and Nantwich by-election disaster and the catalogue of recent sagas with fuel prices, gloomy economic and property news and plans to clobber motorists PRimage is not surprised to see that when asked who would make the best Prime Minister, 39% of people polled said Conservative leader David Cameron, a rise of 7% on last month. Mr Brown’s rating fell 2% from April to 17%. Only 15% of those surveyed were satisfied with Mr Brown – the same as during the worst years of the Major administration in the early 1990s.

Body blow for NHS IT scheme? PRimage view

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

As a specialist healthcare PR and lobbying company PRimage has often commented on this blog site about the ongoing sagas and problems with the Government’s beleagured multi-billion pound scheme to computerise every patient in England’s medical records.

Today Judy Viitanen read that it has suffered a major blow after the NHS said a contract with a key supplier had been terminated. The £12.7 billion project has already come in for repeated criticism over delays and fears over the security of patient information. Fujitsu’s £896 million, 10-year contract for installing the programme in the south of England has been terminated after months of negotiations, both the company and the NHS confirmed. Connecting for Health, the NHS IT programme, said it would now issue a termination notice to Fujitsu in a move that could cost the Japanese-owned services company an estimated £300m. Reports suggest the dispute centred on the NHS’s demand for more flexibility in delivery of the services – a request that would cost more. Fujitsu wanted either more money or a return to the original contract specifications.

PRimage was interested to read in today’s Financial Times that the dispute centred around the government’s demands for more flexibility in the IT system being installed, which would have cost more.

‘Insurrection in the air’ – PRimage agree!

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

Judy Viitanen agrees with the recent comment by Lib-Dem Leader Nick Clegg that Britons “are ready for a change” — but the PRimage team question his assertion that the Lib Dems are the only ones who can deliver! Judging by recent political opinion polls and the Crewe by-election result, many voters are supporting Cameron and pinning their hopes with the Conservatives.

Bank overdraft fees – PRimage view

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

As a Barclays Bank customer Judy Viitanen was delighted to learn that it was cutting the cost of overdrafts – PRimage wonder if this move by Barclays will spark a fierce battle for current account customers.

Property fears? PRimage comment

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

Judy Viitanen and the PRimage team believe that the housing market today looked as though it was headed into its biggest crisis since the crash of the early 1990s, as Nationwide building society reported a record fall of 2.5% in May – the biggest monthly fall ever recorded by the building society. Is this a signal the property market downturn is gathering speed? What do you think? Please post a comment.

Statins – benefits: PRimage view

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

As a specialist healthcare communications agency PRimage was encouraged to learn that the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) has issued guidance to doctors to help them identify people at risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) who might benefit from statins.

This is great news because CVD is a leading cause of ill-health and death in the UK, accounting for 124,000 deaths in 2005. People aged 40 to 75 are likely to be high risk, as are those who smoke, have high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Judy Viitanen has read that around four million people in England and Wales are taking statins but the recent guidance could see an extra 1.5 million benefit from cholesterol-lowering drugs - saving thousands of lives every year. Statins lower cholesterol, cutting the chance of people suffering CVD, which includes heart attacks and strokes. And PRimage understand that it is hoped the new guidance will address the patchy prescribing of statins in primary care.

There’s more evidence of the beneits of statins today, with German researchers claiming that people given cholesterol-fighting statin drugs before heart surgery are far less likely to die or suffer complications afterwards.

PRimage supports calls for a healthy workforce

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

Judy Viitanen and the PRimage team are always reading about the health costs of physical inactivity – recent statistics show that lack of exercise in England costs an estimated £8.2 billion each year – this includes the direct costs of treating diseases linked to lack of activity and the indirect costs caused through sickness absence. So it’s good news that NICE guidance says that the UK’s employers should encourage their members of staff to be physically active: PRimage totally agree! Judy and the team believe that as well as benefitting employees’ health, a more active workforce can also improve productivity.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence says employers in all organisations should attempt to improve health in the workplace. It recommends that employers encourage employees to walk, cycle or use another mode of transport involving physical activity to travel part or all of the way to and from work. Employees should be helped to be physically active during the working day, the guidance adds, for example by providing information about walking or cycling routes or putting up signs to encourage staff to use the stairs.

And new research from scientists at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden discovered that men who walked or cycled for at least 30 minutes a day had a 34 per cent lower risk of dying from cancer than men who did less exercise or nothing at all.

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UK housing and mortgage trend: PRimage comment

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

While the housing market in the UK thankfully hasn’t reached the dire levels of the US, the PRimage team has read reports todayfrom the major banks which shows that the mortgage market in the UK remains subdued despite a slight recovery in April. Judy Viitanen hopes that things pick up during the summer months …. watch this space!

USA economic woes: PRimage comment

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

Having recently returned from a business trip to America Judy Viitanen has seen first hand the impact that the credit crunch is having on US consumers and business. Latest news shows that US consumer confidence has fallen to its lowest for 16 years, and that US home prices have fallen at a record pace. This is bad news – the PRimage team believe this trend in declining house prices could very likely prolong the economic slowdown and cause further pain for homeowners facing foreclosure.

MPs vote for human-animal hybrid embryos – PRimage comment

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

Scientists will be allowed to create hybrid human-animal embryos after MPs overwhelmingly voted in favour of radical stem cell research to create hybrid embryos for research that supporters say could bring advances in medical treatment. PRimage note that a total of 336 politicians voted for the research and 176 against. The vote followed hours of tense debate in the Commons on aspects of the human fertilisation and embryology bill, which seeks to update the law following scientific advances in the past few years.

The embryos are created from animal eggs and human DNA and proponents say they could play an important role in finding ways to treat diseases such as Parkinson’s disease.

MPs will now turn their attention to whether IVF clinics should have to consider the need for a father before offering treatment. Judy Viitanen understands that the Government’s aim is to avoid discrimination against single and lesbian women. But opponents, led by the former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, will argue that the absence of a father is detrimental to children. Yesterday three Roman Catholic Cabinet ministers – Ruth Kelly, Des Browne and Paul Murphy – took advantage of a free vote to vote against the Government and back two separate amendments moved by Tory MPs on embryo research. The first was an amendment tabled by Tory former minister Edward Leigh to outlaw the creation of hybrid embryos to be harvested for stem cell research, which was defeated by 336 to 176, a 160 majority. The second, tabled in the name of Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley and his deputy Mark Simmonds, to ban so-called “true hybrids” was also defeated, this time by the narrower margin of 286 to 223, a 63 majority. Later, an amendment aiming to prevent parents selecting embryos to produce children whose genetic material could help treat a sick brother or sister was defeated by 342 to 163, a majority of 179.