A few weeks back I wrote my first “This Week in Health” post where I shared all the interesting health related content I’d read that week, either from blog posts, newspaper articles or medical journals. I’m planning to make it a regular feature as it had a really positive response, so excuse my break in September- I wanted to concentrate on Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month (as well as sunning myself in Sardinia 😉 )
The last couple of weeks have been big for me as I’ve started a new job at a GP practice closer to home- as a doctor I’m used to changing jobs a lot (in training you have a new job every 3-6 months) but it doesn’t make those first few days much easier! Thankfully I’ve settled in well and hopefully this will be last “new job” for a while 🙂
So, here’s a recap of my most interesting reads in the last few weeks:
THE JUNIOR DOCTOR CONTRACT ROW
A lot of my online reading this week has been around the junior doctor contract row. Essentially the government are trying to enforce a new contract on junior doctors which will result in a significant pay cut as well as taking away necessary safeguards to protect doctors from working dangerously long hours. This will result in doctors being overworked, exhausted and will inevitably effect patient safety. Here are the best articles I’ve read which should help put this in context for you:
- Let’s start with what it’s like to work as a junior doctor. Sarah is at the beginning of her career and writes a post about a typical night shift. I feel exhausted just reading it and remember all too well how hard these shifts were and how utterly knackered I was by the end of them. It’s important to remember that the term junior doctor can apply to someone fresh out of medical school as well as someone who’s been qualified for over 15 years.
- This open letter from a junior doctor to the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt perfectly encapsulates what it is to be a junior doctor, the sacrifices made and just how much the new contract will impact doctors and patient care.
- In this article, Dan Poulter from the Guardian discusses how the new contract will put patients in danger.
If you want to read more on this topic just head to any doctor’s Facebook page… it seems we have taken over! If you want to sign a petition, you can do so here.
WHICH HEALTH APP SHOULD I USE?
There was a great article in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) called “Which app should I use” by Stephen Armstrong which discussed the growing use of health apps. Despite the fact doctors and patients are increasingly using health apps there’s very little guidance on how good they are or if they work. Essentially people are using apps to monitor and even manage medical conditions without much knowledge of how they’re calibrated or the research that was used to develop them. Apparently any app that makes efficacy claims needs to provide some evidence to support them under the European Directive on Misleading Advertising but its unlikely to be of the standard of the randomised controlled trials that are used elsewhere in medicine. As with most things people seem to be choosing apps that look good and are easy to use which means that they’re often not evidenced based. Apparently things are improving and it’s going to be easier for patients to choose better apps. For example, the Mental Health Acts Library was launched in March 2015 which lists apps which have evidenced based treatments for anxiety and depression. This Autumn, the European Commission will begin negotiating proposed reforms on medical devices, including apps which hopefully lead to stricter requirements. Until then, I’ll hold off downloading!(1)
ORTHOREXIA- A NEW DIAGNOSIS?
This article in the Guardian definitely caught my eye a few weeks ago. A few friends actually emailed it to me saying they’d found it interesting too so it’s clearly a relevant topic of discussion. Orthorexia is an obsession with only eating food that the sufferer believes to be healthy. There’s not been much research into the disease yet and it’s not a well established diagnosis but I can imagine there will be many sufferers out there or at least people who can relate to it. This article follows the story of Prins who suffered from orthorexia for years before seeking psychiatric help. With the current obsession with “healthy eating” it’s not surprising that this is leading to a more significant problem for some people.
HOW DIETARY GUIDELINES ARE OUT OF STEP WITH SCIENCE
I’ll start by saying that I’m not a dietician and not particularly qualified to be discussing dietary guidelines but a recent article in the British Medical Journal really jumped out at me. Apparently the Americans are about to release their new dietary guidelines which will effect millions of citizens as well as decisions around food labelling, education and research. It seems a lot of Western countries follow the American guidelines so it’s imperative that they get it right. Instead of using standard methods for its research they have relied on reviews from professional bodies such as the American Heart Association which are heavily supported by food and drug companies and the committee members are not required to report any conflict of interest. Unsurprisingly, the new dietary guidelines are largely unchanged and don’t reflect the current relevant science and research. The committee have also recommended three diets to promote better health without the evidence to go with them. Apparently US congress have stepped in and the guidelines are to be reviewed. Who would have thought it, an American drug company corrupting health in the US…(2)
What are your thoughts regarding the junior doctors row? Do you think we’re right to be petitioning?
Do you use health apps, and if so, how do you choose which ones to go for?
Any dieticians out there? If so, I’d love to hear your opinion on the American dietary guidelines- do you think they’re corrupt and ignoring current research?
I’d love to hear from you, so please get in touch!