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Archive for June, 2009

Keep Your Cool In The Heat Wave! – PRimage tips

Monday, June 29th, 2009

sun-31A heat wave warning has been issued for England and Wales, with record-breaking temperatures forecast in some areas, potentially rising as high as 32C (90F) in the coming days. Like many people around the country, Judy Viitanen and the PRimage team are enjoying this glorious weather – but we’re also getting concerned about how to cope with the heat!

To help us all cope and stay safe and well during this very hot weather, PRimage client, the Day Lewis Pharmacy Group – the UK’s largest independent multiple group – has issued a handy ‘hot weather survival guide’ – full of practical tips to help you cope with the heat and to keep safe and well during the heat wave. 

Peter Glover, Day Lewis Managing Director and Superintendent Pharmacist, tells Judy:  “Although there are certain groups of the public who are at particular risk for dehydration – the elderly, young children and babies, people with breathing or heart problems, people, who are bed-bound, and outdoor workers – everyone should take care – because during the current heat wave conditions we can all be at risk from heat-related health problems.

If exposure to high temperatures is prolonged or there is a problem keeping your core temperature cool, then you are at risk for a heat-related illness such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heatstroke”.

Keep out of the heat

·         Plan your day in a way that allows you to stay out of the heat

·         Avoid going out in the hottest part of the day from 11am-3pm

·         Do strenuous outdoor activity in cooler parts of the day, like early morning

·         If you must go out, stay in the shade. Wear a hat, light, loose-fitting clothes, preferably cotton. If you go out take plenty of water with you

Stay cool

·         Stay inside, in the coolest rooms in your home, as much as possible

·         Close the curtains in rooms that get a lot of sun

·         Keep windows closed while the room is cooler than it is outside. Open them when the temperature inside rises, and at night for ventilation.

·         Take cool showers or baths, and splash yourself several times a day with cold water, particularly your face and the back of your neckwater-2

 Drink regularly

  ·         Drink regularly even if you do not feel thirsty – water or fruit juices are best

·         Avoid alcohol, tea and coffee – they make dehydration worse

Labour split on health and education spending

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

medsAs PRimage has previously commented, the battleground for the next general election is sure to be played out around the key issue of public spending.  The Tories have recently made clear that they will focus strongly on the NHS; and judging from various news reports this morning it would appear that Labour is split on health and education spending. student Treasury Minister Ed balls says the party is considering protecting NHS and schools, but adds that he cannot make predictions! Weasel words, from Mr Balls we think!  balls

Brown bad for UK! PRimage comment

Monday, June 15th, 2009

Judy Viitanen and the PRimage team gave up on the beleaguered Prime Minister a long time ago …. In our view, he’s well past his ‘sell-by date’ and the longer he stays in power the greater the damage he does to his party and the country!  It appears that more than half of the electorate share that view.  We are not surprised! brown-21

A majority, 60%, say Brown should step down now or before the next general election: In a YouGove poll more than half, 51%, agree with the statement that “Gordon Brown’s continued presence as prime minister is damaging the country”, against 27% who disagree. The poll of more than 1,900 people last Thursday and Friday also suggests the hostility towards the main parties shown in the European parliament elections this month has persisted.

The Tories, with 40% of the vote, have maintained a 16-point lead over Labour, which is down at 24%. However, both parties have lost support over the past month; in May their ratings were 43% and 27% respectively. The beneficiaries are not the Liberal Democrats, unchanged on 18%, but the smaller parties, up from 12% to 18%. Within this, the UK Independence party had 8% of the vote, the Greens 4%, and the British National party 3%, with most of the rest going to the Scottish Nationalists and Plaid Cymru.

NHS in frontline spending debate! PRimage comment

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

PRimage is watching with interest the current debates around the finances and future direction of the NHS and differing political stances around public spending cuts. andy_burnham1Andy Burnham, the new health secretary, has admitted that the NHS will become more “lean” as a report from the NHS Confederation has warned that the service is entering an era of sustained and severe spending constraint. Raising the quality of services is the best way to improve productivity as NHS spending is cut, and this should not be a time of “gloom”, the new health secretary says.   This debate centers on the issue that the health service may not survive unless dramatic action is taken to manage investment cuts.  _david_nicholsonThe NHS chief executive David Nicholson has said the NHS must plan for real terms cuts, despite protestations from the government and the Conservative opposition that they would continue to give it real terms increases. And the NHS Confederation chief executive Steve Barnett states that NHS is facing a “make or break” moment in its history.  Judy Viitanen and the PRimage team would agree!


Yesterday the Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley confirmed the Conservatives’ commitment to increasing the NHS budget in real terms after 2011 while calling on managers to justify the extra spend. He said that the health service will be exempt from cuts under the Conservatives – and that a future Conservative government would guarantee “real-terms growth in NHS expenditure”. He also told NHS managers at the NHS Confederation conference in Liverpool, that his party was NOT planning to impose cuts and blamed projected cash shortfalls on proposed Labour spending plans.4244886

Predictably, Gordon Brown has seized on this, accusing the Conservatives of planning big public spending cuts – but Judy believes this is part of his strategy to try and regain the initiative after he quelled a rebellion in his Labour party.  And in the PRimage view as both Labour and the Tories accept the Budget’s spending plans until 2014, Gordon Brown cannot accuse the Conservatives of savaging the public services unless he plans to do the same!  However, all this has led to Cameron being forced on the defensive over his economic policy.  And after a week of Labour infighting and near-collapse, these alleged Tory plans for spending cuts dominated prime minister’s questions, in angry House of Commons exchanges yesterday, that suggested where the battle­ lines for the next general election would be.  hoc-2Watch this space!

NHS faces huge financial crisis! PRimage comment

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

a-symbolA new report from the NHS Confederation has given the health service in England a ‘red alert’, warning  that it faces a financial crisis – and that a combination of recession and rising costs will hit the health service hardest after 2010-11.  As a specialist healthcare communications and lobbying company, PRimage has enormous respect for the NHS Confederation – but we hope that the worst case scenarios mooted by the organisation are not realised! … But we do agree that some radical innovations are probably needed – and that the NHS certainly needs to become more efficient!

The NHS Confederation, which represents 90 per cent of NHS organisations, said the next two years would be “tough but manageable” but beyond 2010-11 it would be “very different and extremely challenging”. Its report — Dealing with the downturn: The greatest ever leadership challenge for the NHS? — said the service should expect a funding shortfall of £15 billion in real terms as a result of the impact of the recession and rising costs. And the report called for immediate action if the service is to continue to keep to its founding principles of providing free care to everyone at the point of need. It warned against “diluting” the quality of patient care and extending waiting lists, or making cuts to training budgets. A solution to the crisis lies in NHS leaders embracing innovation, change and improving efficiency, it said.  

Judy Viitanen and the PRimage team note that the newly appointed Health Secretary Andy Burnham said NHS funding had tripled since 1997, putting it on a strong financial footing – and that he suggests that PCT’s will receive an additional 5% over the next couple of years.  He agreed that a ‘leaner’ NHS was needed – but said it was premature to talk of job cuts in the health service. We’ve just listened to his interview on the Radio 4 Today programme – and felt he put up a robust defence of Labour’s record on the NHS. andy-burnham

We were also interested to hear the shadow health secretary, Andrew Lansley, promising that a Conservative government would increase spending on the health service.  lansley And he reiterated this during a speech this afternoon at the NHS Confederation conference – confirming the Conservatives’ commitment to increasing the NHS budget in real terms after 2011 while calling on managers to justify the extra spend. He stated his three priorities were equity, efficiency and excellence, and repeated his belief in ring-fenced public health budgets to address health inequalities.

Judy Viitanen and the PRimage team totally support the Tory view that more power needs to rest with patients.  And we believe this will be helped by expanding practice based commissioning.  Watch this space!

Care for the Carers: PRimage comment on Carers Week 8-14 June

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

elderlyAs a specialist healthcare communications agency the PRimage team have enormous respect for the millions of carers around the country who do such a wonderful job caring for loved ones and friends. In our view, they are truly the unsung heroes of our modern society!  There are millions of people in the UK who sacrifice their time – and often their health, finances, work and social life – in order to care for a loved one. We believe that they deserve to be recognised for the priceless contribution they make, both to our local community and to society at large!  Judy Viitanen has first-hand experience of this, having nursed her husband at home during his final illness from bowel cancer.  Judy knows that many carers feel perpetually tired and stressed out and would love to have someone they can talk to – and also to get advice from.   And many carers suffer due to a lack of understanding about what they do – some don’t even recognise themselves as carers! This has a real and negative impact on their health, finances, working and social life, and general wellbeing.” 

This week is Carers Week – and a new survey shows that three out of four carers have been forced to ‘breaking point’. Carers Week highlights the vital work done by those who provide unpaid care for someone who is ill, frail or disabled. This year, the theme for the week is ‘Carers… the UK’s secret service’ and calls for carers to receive greater recognition for the incredible contribution they make to their families and their communities. 

PRimage client, Day Lewis Pharmacy Plc – the UK’s largest independent pharmacy multiple group – is supporting this year’s Carers Week by re-launching its ‘Care for the Carer’ pharmacy support service during Carer’s Week.  As a community based independent pharmacy chain, the health of the local community is the number one priority for Day Lewis. That’s why the company feel there is nobody more deserving of its support than local carers. dl-logo-2  Day Lewis CEO, Kirit Patel, tells Judy:  “At Day Lewis we understand that a carer’s role can be demanding and difficult, which is why we are re-launching our special ‘Care for the Carer’ service.  On top of worrying  about a loved one’s needs, it must be terrible if carers themselves feel they have nowhere and nobody to turn to – so it’s  important that carers know that they don’t have to struggle on alone. The “Care for the Carer” service is designed to look after the health of carers and take a little weight off their shoulders – and is currently being run in five of Day Lewis pharmacies in the area around Croydon.  It provides an ”open door” policy allowing carers to take advantage of a range of services.”

D-Day Heroes: PRimage comment on 65th anniversary

Saturday, June 6th, 2009

normandy2nva1British and American veterans are taking part in a series of emotional and touching events in Normandy today to mark the 65th anniversary of D-Day and and to pay their own tributes to those who did not return.  PRimage Managing Director has a home in Normandy, and has seen first-hand just how loved and revered these liberating, brave veterans are in the towns and villages along that coastline.  The American and British cemeteries are beautifully maintained – and words simply cannot explain how deeply poignant and moving it is to visit the landing beaches and the various memorials and museums – a total privilege! Judy believes that  these veterans were truly the greatest generation! The Allies suffered 215,000 casualties on D-Day and in the Normandy campaign, and Caen was virtually flattened.

Andy Burnham – new Health Secretary: PRimage comment

Friday, June 5th, 2009

Judy Viitanen is interested to see that Andy Burnham has been appointed Secretary of State for Health, replacing the excellent Alan Johnson, who is now Home Secretary.  Mr Burnham, who was previously Culture Secretary, has had a previous stint on the health/NHS portfolio, as health minister between 2006 and 2007, when he was responsible for kick-starting debate on reforms to the minimum practice guarantee for GPs.andy_burnham So, he clearly knows the health brief well from his previous posts at the Department of Health.  But Judy and PRimage believe that he’s certainly got some major challenges ahead, including NHS finances being squeezed, the anticipated social care green paper, keeping up momentum on reform, and managing rising demand for healthcare!

He appears to be one of the ‘good guys’ in the Labour party – and should, hopefully be a safe pair of hands.  But PRimage thinks it’s a shame that Alan Johnson has gone from health – as a specialist healthcare PR consultant and lobbyist, Judy Viitanen was a big fan of Mr Johnson – and felt he was doing a good job! She’s sure he will prove to be a very good Home Secretary.

Time for Brown to go? PRimage comment

Monday, June 1st, 2009

brown-2Gordon Brown faces his most important and pivotal week since taking power as PM – with Labour expecting a total hammering in Thursday’s local and European elections…. And in the wake of his ineffective handling of the MPs expenses scandal and the latest dire ICM poll findings, Judy Viitanen and the PRimage team believe that it’s time for the Prime Minister to call it a day.  However, Brown’s hubris continues apace, with his insistence that he has no intention to quit – and that he will reject any moves from his Cabinet colleagues to urge him to stand down!  Political commentators report that senior ministers may urge him to stand aside if the Labour party performs disastrously is this week’s local and European elections…. Well, that looks very likely: asked in the ICM poll who they would support in a General Election, only 22% of voters said they would vote Labour – which means that labour would fall into third place for the first time since 1987!