On Saturday the 10th of August, the Nobel-prize winning physicist Steven Hawking, addressed an audience at the Royal Society of Medicine. Over his illustrious career Hawking has become used to taking in public about his work in mathematics and physics. On this occasion however, he ceased the opportunity to draw attention to his lifelong experience of the NHS. His address, which was also published in a daily newspaper the day before, raised concern about recent NHS reforms and the “political decisions” that have brought it to the point of crisis. He listed underfunding, public sector pay cap, new junior doctor contracts, removal of student nurses’ bursary and ceaseless drive towards privatisation as hindering the NHS from providing high quality care. In response, war of words and statistics ensued with Jeremy Hunt accusing Hawking of “pernicious falsehoods”. Where facts and figures can ping-pong between opposing sides and become political instruments to justify particular actions, personal experiences of the reforms can help elucidate the reality behind the numbers. Continue reading “Mr Hunt, weekend effect aside, the NHS is in crisis – both patients and staff experience it”
Suzanne Metselaar, Dept. of Medical Humanities, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, and Gerben Meynen, Dept. of Philosophy, VU University, Amsterdam
Since 2013, a one-week Winter School at the Ethox Center is part of our master programme Philosophy, Bioethics, and Health (PBH). PBH is an interdisciplinary, two-year MA-programme of the Dept. of Philosophy of VU University in collaboration with the Dept. of Medical Humanities of VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam. Students describe the visit to Ethox as a great learning experience: it is seen as the highlight of our Master programme. And the beautiful scenery and history of Oxford are certainly a great bonus!
Kate Sahan, The Ethox Centre, Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford
A current emergency medicine trial, Paramedic2, which randomizes patients to adrenaline versus saline in cardiac arrest has put emergency medicine research (EMR) back under the spotlight. There are concerns that a ‘totally useless placebo’ will be more harmful than the standard adrenaline shot given during the resuscitation protocol. However, the history of EMR has taught us that some emergency interventions rest on an insufficiently-explored and updated evidence base. For example, up until the early 2000s, corticosteroids were given to tens of thousands of severe head trauma patients in the belief they were medically beneficial. But it took a systematic, placebo-controlled research study of their use called CRASH to make an unwholesome discovery: steroids had no benefit, and caused actual harm by killing or severely brain-damaging more patients than placebo.