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Thursday, 27 May 2010

BMA Wales Social Media

BMA Cymru Wales is embracing new media! We communicate with members and non members via a number of channels listed below.

Take a look and keep up-to-date with the latest news and developments.

Follow us on Twitter here

Join our Students Facebook group here

Join our Junior Doctors Facebook group here

Join our We'll Keep a Welcome Campaign Facebook group here

And finally watch our clips on YouTube here

The Welsh Health Survey

The new Welsh Health survey data makes for worrying reading. There has been a rise in the number of children classified as overweight or obese.

These soaring rates in obesity over recent years has lead to an increase in childhood type II diabetes and will lead to more future cases of heart disease, osteoarthritis and some cancers.

If current trends continue, the cost to the health service is likely to increase unless measures are put in place to halt this growing problem.

We need to prevent children from becoming overweight in the first place, and parents, schools, health professionals, the media, food manufacturers and the government all have an important role to play in this.

The other item which stood out from the data was the increase in smoking amongst men in Wales.

Although smoke-free legislation is making a huge difference to the health of patients, these figures reveal the serious reality of Wales’ smoking problem.

The damage caused by smoking is cumulative. Most people know that smoking causes heart disease and stroke. But they may not realise that if men smoke heavily during their teens and twenties, they risk developing erectile dysfunction in their thirties and forties.

There is no doubt that giving up smoking can be extremely difficult – like any addiction, kicking the habit is no easy task. When smokers decide to quit they are often advised to set a date, bin the cigarettes and then just do it. Support from a doctor or health professional during this time can be invaluable, and I would advise anyone thinking about quitting to contact their GP for advice and support.

What do you make of the data?

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Survey on alcohol policy issues

Alcohol Concern Cymru are conducting a survey to gauge the views of those working in primary care on current alcohol policy issues in Wales.

45% of adults in Wales admit to drinking more than the recommended daily amount on at least one day in the past week, including 28% regularly binge drinking (drinking more than double the recommended daily amount over a short period). Alcohol now accounts for over 1,000 deaths in Wales each year.

If you are working in primary care take a minute to fill out this 7 question survey by clicking here.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Alcohol Abuse: An Integrated Approach Forward

Last week we brought together leading UK experts to speak at our seminar on alcohol abuse, and to debate an integrated approach forward in tackling Wales' growing drink problem.

Speakers included: myself; Dr Zul Mirza, President of the Emergency Medicine Section, Royal Society of Medicine; Simon O’Brien, Deputy Inspector of policing for Ireland; Professor Eileen Kaner, Chair, Alcohol Programme Development Group NICE; Wynford Ellis Owen, Chief Executive of The Welsh Council on Alcohol and other Drugs; Andy Tighe, Director, Brewing, Beer and the Pub Association.

You can watch the seminar here.

We know that Health Minister Edwina Hart would like to see action on alcohol pricing from her statement in Plenary last month, and we are urging the Minister to act sooner rather than later in seeking further powers to tackle alcohol abuse, to help improve the health of the people of Wales.

Recent years have seen an increase in the levels of alcohol misuse in Wales, and in particular the pattern of binge drinking and heavy drinking.

Alcohol consumption is associated with a wide range of medical conditions and is a significant cause of morbidity and premature death. It contributes to a range of acute and chronic health consequences, from alcohol poisoning and injuries resulting from traffic crashes to cancer and cardiovascular disease. The more an individual consumes, the greater the risk of harm.

Alcohol misuse is associated with crime, violence and anti-social behaviour, and can impact significantly on family and community life.

Below are our recommendations to tackle alcohol abuse which we intend to send to the Health Minister:

• Taxation on all alcoholic beverages should be increased at higher than inflation rates and this increase should be proportionate to the amount of alcohol in the product.

• Legislation should be introduced to:
-prohibit irresponsible promotional activities in licensed premises and by off-licenses
- set minimum price levels for the sale of alcoholic beverages

• It should be a legal requirement for alcohol labeling to include the following information:
- alcohol content in units
- recommended daily UK guidelines for alcohol consumption
- a warning message advising that exceeding these guidelines may cause the individual and others harm

• Licensing legislation should be strictly enforced, including the use of penalties for breach of license, suspension or removal of licenses, the use of test purchases to monitor underage sales, and restrictions on individuals with a history of alcohol-related crime or disorder. There should be adequate funding for enforcement agencies, with consideration given to the establishment of a dedicated alcohol licensing and inspection service.

• A statutory code of practice on the marketing of alcoholic beverages should be introduced and rigorously enforced. This should include a ban on:
-marketing of alcoholic soft drinks to young people
-alcohol industry sponsorship of sporting, music and other entertainment events aimed mainly at young people
-broadcasting of alcohol advertising at any time that is likely to be viewed by young people

• The legal limit for the level of alcohol permitted while driving should be reduced from 80mg/100ml to 50mg/100ml throughout the UK.

• Public and school-based alcohol educational programmes should only be used as part of a wider alcohol-related harm reduction strategy to support policies that have been shown to be effective at altering drinking behaviour, to raise awareness of the adverse effects of alcohol misuse, and to promote public support for comprehensive alcohol control measures.

• The detection and management of alcohol misuse should be an adequately funded and resourced component of primary and secondary care to include:
- formal screening for alcohol misuse
- referral for brief interventions and specialist alcohol treatment services as appropriate
- follow-up care and assessment at regular intervals

Monday, 10 May 2010

Welsh Cancer Standards

The Western Mail today reports on Wales falling short on meeting national cancer standards.

Health professionals throughout Wales are committed to providing the best possible services to patients, and welcome the Welsh Assembly Governments ambition to achieve 100 per cent compliance across this set of standards - unfortunately the reality falls woefully short of the ambition as this report highlights.

While acknowledging that much work has been done, this report highlights how much more there is to do.

Additional resources will be required to meet these standards - and even in these tight financial times, cancer services will remain a priority to doctors and patients in Wales.

The report highlights a shortage of specialists throughout multidisciplinary clinical teams. BMA Cymru have warned the Welsh Assembly Government repeatedly over the shortage of doctors in Wales, and this data adds wait to our argument.

The high level of middle grade and junior doctor vacancies means that consultants are left picking up the pieces where there are gaps in rotas.

This is compromising consultants’ ability to deliver routine daily work, and there is no evidence that hospitals are adjusting services to take these shortfalls into account.

While BMA Cymru has been working with WAG and employing Local Health Boards around doctor shortages - many of our suggestions on how to address the current crisis we are facing have yet to be taken up.

Without doubt, the rates of work being undertaken cannot be sustained with the current levels of staffing.

The Welsh Assembly Government must ensure that training programmes are in place to provide future specialists.

Although the waiting times for radiotherapy have not improved, it is pleasing that the WAG identified the need for more resources in this area to ensure improvements were made. The recent investment into extended working hours and a national procurement programme for linear accelerators is to be welcomed.

The WAG must now ensure that sufficient resources are available in other areas to enable workers to implement recommendations.

Doctors are eager to drive forward efforts to improve the care cancer patients receive and are usually at the forefront of leading improvements and new initiatives; but sustainable solutions are needed to address the problems raised in this report if NHS Wales is to deliver and maintain the quality and capacity of cancer services that the people of Wales deserve.