New year,new pastures

Here’s to 2015, which already looks like a promising year. With postgraduate studies completed and a new work opportunity with the Health Trainer Service in my city, I’m looking forward to putting my learned knowledge into practice to contribute effectively to helping reduce health inequalities.

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Latest published editorial in Family Practice, including my work on primary care data

Below is a link to the latest published editorial in Family Practice, including parts of my work on primary care diversity data and its challenges. Many thanks to Carolyn Tarrant and Emma Angell.

http://fampra.oxfordjournals.org/content/30/6/613.full?keytype=ref&ijkey=u1f0fDXj3eQLLnD

Global health – Women first

Over the past two weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to start to learn more about challenges and issues in health on a global scale. The link between improving the health of a woman the subsequent improvement of the health of a nation was a concept that was familiar to me through commonplace discussions and rhetoric from NGO’s and multilaterals, but I was fascinated to begin to touch upon details of the nature of the relationship in association with malnutrition and maternal health. Staggering proportions of mortality and morbidity in the so-called “developing” countries are continually reported from the issues above in addition to other diseases which play their role in compounding the situation. Skewing the focus of any health-related intervention towards women of all ages (appropriate to each health challenge) whether it be for improved socio-economic conditions, including raising education levels, lays the foundation for long-term improvements and provides a chance to attempt to weaken vicious cycles of poor health outcomes often reported. I think Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the current executive director of UN Women, touches on a part of this in the clip, from the angle of empowerment.

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/video/2013/nov/19/un-women-phumzile-mlambo-ngcuka-video

A glimpse of Public Health in local government: my reflections

As my time with Nottingham City Public Health nears its end and with postgraduate studies on the horizon, I thought now would be a good time to reflect on my time spent in the department, my work and skills discovered. First and foremost I have a further appreciation for data; the raw quantifier needed to establish where you are at before you can even begin to determine where you are going, or where strategic diversions are needed. When scoping the prevalence of certain eye conditions, working with city population estimates deduced from estimated national prevalence figures has proved challenging. My MPH studies are sure to improve my understanding on the methods used when dealing with such data, recognising its limitations but also its value when needed.  Secondly I’ve been able to see just how interconnected public health work is within nearly all sections of local government involved in improving aspects of public society. Collaborations were found within different sections of the same department, between other departments (e.g.commissioning teams) and with external bodies, including arms of the voluntary sector. Together they form an extensive network of interwoven working relationships. I encountered and liaised with individuals in all the above sectors and so the importance of working together was clearly evident in my work on vision loss within the city. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Public Health team and I wish them all the best in their projects.

Experiences of clinical trials

During the CLAHRC event “Making it Real – Patients and public improving healthcare research”,Leicester,  one of the sessions I attended was delivered by a patient who had extensive involvement within various clinical trials over the past few years.  He was a great example of how health research, once recognised as an invaluable part of the improvement of treatment pathways for illnesses, can attract a greater number of patient participants. For him the trials were not separate from his current clinical treatment, but instead were directly related to revealing ways of making that treatment better.  Barriers he observed to research participation included poor advertising and the scientific terminology used to describe the research aims, objectives and patient requirements . These were two of many observations flagged up as impeding access to trial information for patients. Present in the audience were health researchers and healthcare professionals involved in research and so one would hope that hearing the comments on potential improvements from a participant’s point of view may influence their methods of recruitment in future.

Patient involvement in research is ever-increasing, further embedding itself into standard research practice here in the UK which is great to see. The UK Clinical Trials Gateway and the national advisory group INVOLVE are among those that provide resources and information that help to keep patient & public involvement high on the health research agenda.  By involving the patients and the public, clinical research will hopefully continue to democratise, increasing the amount of accountability of the researchers by allowing transparency throughout the research process. Overall this will pave the way to  better research practice on the one hand, and increase public awareness and confidence in research on the other. I think that striving to do so may be a good way of increasing patient involvement within clinical trials.

Public Health – the ‘wide net’ approach

Last week I started some additional work outside of the University,with Nottingham City Public Health. In healthcare it is easy to turn immediate focus to those at the extremes, expending maximum resource to bring them into the band of majority. For instance, the drive to tackle obesity often prioritises those who are medically overweight (morbidly obese) as this category is seen as high risk. Public health allows the scope to attempt to influence and change the behaviour of the majority for the better, less concerned with exclusively medical interventions but, instead,  turning attention to changes in lifestyle and other health risk contributors (in the case of obesity). The results may not be as drastic as those seen in at the extremes, but the impact is widespread amongst a given population.

My first project will look at the needs of those most at risk from sight loss within the city’s population. This work will form part of an overview of Sensory Impairments in Nottingham, in light of the Public Health Outcomes Framework. Better get reading!

KEEPTHEBEAT – A parent’s perspective on the Safe and Sustainable NHS review

Yesterday Adam Tansey, co-founder of the children’s charity ‘KEEP THE BEAT’, described his emotional journey with his youngest son, 4-year-old Albert, who was born with half a heart. From day one Tansey’s family have relied on the expertise and the Intensive Care Unit in Glenfield Hospital which have been key to keeping Albert alive especially for his unexpected turns for the very worst . Therefore Adam’s passion to do all that he can to save Glenfield Hospital is understandable especially seen as there has been debate over the validity of the data and techniques used to come to the decision to close the four childrens’ heart surgery units, Glenfield being one of them (more details about the Safe and Sustainable Review can be found on the NHS specialist services website, including the report of the public consultation).  It showed me that, through all the political wrangling and to-ing and fro-ing within the judical process, it is ultimately the lives of Albert, Adam and his family that will be affected. For them, losing this hospital will be devestating, a feeling many in boardrooms may have failed to realise.

To support Keep the Beat, supporting families affected by congenital heart defects,  visit http://www.keepthebeat.co.uk/site/index.php

A huge thanks to Adam for a very poignant talk.