Margaret McCartney

I am ashamed at how late I run, some days, at work. I have gaps built in to my appointment times for catch up (resulting in a longer overall clinic) but it is never enough. Sometimes I try and reflect on what I could do faster, but I can’t usually come up with much that I could myself control and that I think it’d be a good idea to do.

Various studies have suggested that the average number of items a GP deals with in one appointment is 3. A ten minute appointment, then, is rather stretched.

By Rebecca Knight

Most of the time blogging for’s health section is a lot of fun. I get to write about cool breakthrough technologies and therapies that might change the way our bodies fight disease. I get to learn about the latest studies that could have a practical impact on nutrition, fitness and family health. And plus I get to read comments from readers all over the world about how they view health and wellbeing. It’s not a bad gig.
But every once in a while I come across a piece of science news that is rather depressing. That happened this week. 

Margaret McCartney

Best science-y joke of 2009:

Why are parties on Pluto rubbish?

There’s not much atmosphere. (I know, I know……)

Thank you for reading, responding and emailing to posts and columns during 2009. Much appreciated, even if challenging. Further projects for 2010 will include disclosure into what quango took 6 months to reply to a basic query about regulation of non-NHS clinics – and there will also be forays into evidence based cooking.

Margaret McCartney

I have been interested to read Ezekiel Emanuel’s writing about the state of healthcare in the US in the medical press over the past couple of years. I have been trying in vain to read (or hear) the lecture he gave a couple of days ago in Denver, on  High Touch Medicine, the future of the Physician-Patient Relationship

He means, I think, pro-activeness, especially with managing chronic disease, more access to care, and better use of technology, better use of primary care, and nursing staff.

He is also mindful of how a consumer culture can damage healthcare. I’m interested in this too because I think healthcare reforms in the UK are leading to a more US based model – competition between providers, and little value on follow up or continuous care. But Mr Emanuel rejects much of this and describes potential improvements which sound very like how the NHS does/or should work.

I do think this paper he wrote in The Journal of the American Medical Association -  The perfect storm of overutilization - is a very good read.

Read the FT Healthcare and the Recovery report 

• Political interests and lobbying vie with economic pressures
• After a decade of growth, austerity looms in the NHS
• The financial crisis is redefining the Gates Foundation’s priorities

By Ross Tieman

Recession amplifies the challenge of healthcare funding. France, which probably has the best-quality universal-coverage system in the world, has already recognised that the chronic state healthcare deficit will this year be deeper than forecast.

Fewer jobs quickly translates into reduced receipts from working contributors. In June, the Social Security Accounts Commission estimated that the state healthcare fund deficit this year would reach €9.4bn, more than twice the €4.6bn shortfall predicted last December.

Eric Woerth, the Budget minister, said the drop in total salaries paid in 2009 would result in a shortfall of €8bn across the entire social security system. In effect, he said, the economic crisis would cost social security a total of €10bn.

In recent days the momentum of Barack Obama’s drive to reform US healthcare - see US health reform Q and A has seemed to fade. Congressional committees have produced bills which broadly follow White House specification. Yet these proposals remain unfinished work because the crucial questions – who pays, and how? – await answers. Raising the stakes of his own personal commitment to the project, the president went on television this week to persuade the country that the reform was needed, and still on track.

Contine reading “Healthcare reform needs bolder action”

Patients with late-stage cancers should gain more rapid access to innovative treatments through the National Health Service under plans unveiled by the government on Tuesday.In a blueprint concluding months of consultations with industry, the Office for Life Sciences earmarked an initial £25m ($41m) next year for a pilot programme to fund experimental drugs for patients with rare illnesses ahead of the usual approval from the government’s medicines advisory body before their use in the NHS.

The policy is one of several unveiled in the document, “Building Britain’s Future”, designed to provide a boost to the UK’s declining global role in drug development and recognise the importance of the sector to the economy.

Continue reading “Move to speed cancer treatment in the UK”

By Lindsay Wright of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

It is no secret that the world is currently experiencing an economic crisis, and when the economy takes a hit, investment in research slows. However, with poverty across the globe increasing at a steady rate, it is still critical to continue investing in the prevention, detection and treatment of universal diseases.

Greater affordability and access to resources is essential in preventing the spread of disease, especially across countries less developed than our own. Access to tests with almost immediate results (Rapid Diagnostic Tests) for diseases such as HIV, Hepatitis C and syphilis are denied to at-risk communities because of a lack of investment, high purchase costs and a lack of healthcare workers.

Health and science blog (Archived)

This blog, part of the FT's health series, is a forum for readers interested in the science, policy, management, technology, business and delivery of healthcare.

This blog is no longer active but it remains open as an archive.

About our regular bloggers

Margaret McCartney is a Glasgow-based GP and FT Weekend columnist. She started writing for the Life and Arts section in 2005 and moved to the magazine in 2008. She also has her own blog:

Clive Cookson has been a science journalist for the whole of his working life. He joined the FT in 1987. Clive, the FT's science editor, picks out the research that everyone should know about. He also discusses key policy issues, from R&D funding to science education.

Andrew Jack is pharmaceuticals correspondent, covering the industry and public health issues. He has been a journalist with the FT for 19 years, based in London, Paris and Moscow