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S18o u t h STEPHEN FRY

S18o u t h STEPHEN FRY disclosed this week that he’s had surgery for prostate cancer (Gleason 9) and he said it was picked up on a routine PSA test – and he suggested that all men should consider having the test … which is not the generally held view as it’s not the perfect screening test by any means (but we do pick up quite a lot of cases that way.) The men who decide to have the test need to be given a list of ‘dos and don’ts’ (mainly don’ts) so that they don’t end up with a false positive which causes them no end of worry. I’ve found the best way is to hand out a printed patient advice leaflet as this obviates the need for you to remember the list. Failing that you can find a good leaflet if you Google: ‘ PSA test’. My nephew found a cassette tape in my house. It was like watching early man discovering fire. SEPSIS: On the Sunday before last, devotees of The Archers heard that Nic Grundy had accidentally cut her arm. A few days later she thought she had flu but by Thursday night she was so unwell that her husband, Will Grundy, rushed her to hospital. Once there the doctor told him that the scratch on Nic’s arm was infected and she had developed blood poisoning also known as sepsis. She died in the early hours of Friday morning leaving behind four children, a bereft husband ... and putting The Archers’ listeners in turmoil. The nurses at Greenwood Surgery are avid ‘Archers’ fans and they have let it be known that Brian had a toxic dump in a field … and they are wondering if there might be a connection between the death from sepsis and Brian’s dump. Nic had been looking through flood damaged memorabilia – and might the contamination from Brian’s dump been leaking for longer than was originally thought – and might it have been contaminated with virulent bacteria – and might these bacteria in some way found their way from Brian’s land through to the floodwater which damaged Will’s memorabilia? Others say this is all too far-fetched. Either way, the take-home message, presumably, is: “Don’t have a dump in Brian’s field!” For more information on this worrying condition Google: ‘NHS Choices sepsis’ or (surprisingly) ‘BBC Radio 4 - The Archers - Nic Grundy’s death.’ The latter reminds us that, although it’s always been a low profile condition, sepsis kills more people than bowel, breast and prostate cancer and road accidents combined. As mentioned last week, the Archers tragedy follows hard on the heels of a potent BBC Radio 4 drama set in a near-future in which, after years of over-use which have rendered them of little or no use due to widespread bacterial resistance, doctors can no longer prescribe antibiotics. The somewhat weird title is ‘The Truth About Hawaii’. Sarah, the heroin, was 10 years old. She scratched her knee, developed an infection and when that infection threatened her life, her parents agreed to have her leg amputated. I wrote about the ‘Pharmacy first’ campaign for poorly kids recently. Going to your local pharmacy for minor and self-limiting illnesses is basically a very good idea … but sepsis campaigners and a meningitis charity have urged caution as they are worried that some cases might be missed. Most very sick kids look very sick … so the hope is that pharmacists will become skilled in picking out the worrying cases … and that parents will make use of the information that is available on line to choose the best place to seek medical advice initially. I’m at the age where I have to make a noise when I bend over. It’s the law. HEART ATTACKS IN THE YOUNG. As you all know with sadness, the Vicar Of Dibley and Notting Hill star Emma Chambers died (aged 53) of a ‘suspected heart attack’. Also … Sridevi, the Bollywood superstar, died at the age of 54 … again of a “heart attack”. When one hears of heart attacks in the young one thinks immediately of cocaine – and ‘coronaries’ in middle age often seek out smokers, those who are overweight, have diabetes and/or high blood pressure etc. On the face of it, both these stars were slim and fit. Maybe they had risk factors of which they were unaware – such as markedly raised cholesterol levels. THE USUAL ADVICE: Most people know the basic advice on lifestyle if you want to live a longer, healthier, and more enjoyable life – bearing in mind that there’s no point in living to be 90 if the last 15 years are a misery. One way to check that you’re not sleep walking into a major problem is to have an NHS health check which, by and large, you are eligible for every five years if you’re between 40 and 74 years. Some will go to e.g. Bupa and pay a small fortune for a full medical but most of the important pointers to avoidable ill health show up in the good old NHS check-up. You might have to wait a while for the appointment because this is clearly not an emergency and GP surgeries are all very stretched at the moment - but you’ll get one before too long - and you can have quite sophisticated FOCUS ON HEALTH tests now in general practice if you’re eligible. For example you can wear a gadget that measures your blood pressure throughout the day rather than just relying on the snapshot that is taken when we do a conventional blood pressure measurement in general practice brackets (which can often be misleading.) My dad sent me to a psychiatrist for wearing his bra … again. AND THE BAD NEWS IS … Diabetes UK says that diabetes diagnoses have more than doubled in 20 years and, as regular readers will know, the consequences when it is not treated enthusiastically can be very serious (and include the loss of a leg, to give just one example.) The experience of many clinicians is that the people who ignore the warnings when they are young are the ones most likely to end up with ‘full blown’ diabetes … and, when this happens, they are often the ones least likely to adhere to treatment recommendations. This is a recipe for some very unpleasant sequelae, wretched ill health, and early death. It’s not a fate you’d would wish on your worst enemies … unless your worst enemies happen to be Bashar al- Assad and Vladimir Putin. Another worrying story is that experts are warning that ‘millennials’ will be the most overweight generation since records began. The Guardian quotes Prof Linda Bauld, a cancer prevention expert at Cancer Research UK. She said the projection showed many millennials, despite their reputation for “following seemingly healthy food trends”, needed to improve their eating habits, cut down on junk food and eat more fruit, vegetables and fibre. The trend among millennials is worrying because carrying excess weight as an adult is linked to 13 (THIRTEEEN!) types of cancer, including breast, bowel and kidney cancer, according to Cancer Research. One last bit of news – a massive research project has shown that antidepressant medication DOES work … which is just as well as you’ll need some when you’ve finished reading this load of doom and gloom. People are making end of the world jokes like there is no tomorrow. DON’T MISS THIS. There’s a questionnaire available from your GP surgery called ‘Your care in the best place - At Home, in your community, and in our hospitals’. This is, as usual, a lengthy questionnaire - 24 questions spread over 16 pages – and one always wonders when questionnaires are this long if the intention behind them is to ensure that people with busy lives don’t have time to complete them (thereby leaving those who like to make decisions behind closed doors to get on with whatever it was they’d decided on in the first place. To find that the questionnaire in its full glory go to and click on ‘Join the discussion, have your say.’ Try to get it back by the 9th of March which was the initial closing date for feedback … although it looks as if the consultation deadline has now been extended to 23rd March 2018. There is an email address however - - so those without the time to read through and answer 24 questions could if they so wish just a send a short reply. If you are one of these I would suggest that that it should be along the following lines: I would prefer as much of my care as possible to be carried out in the most convenient place - in my General Practice and (where necessary) at home. I would therefore ask NHS England to put back some of the £hundreds of thousands of pounds it has taken out of the South Woodham Ferrer healthcare budget as a result of closing two very well-funded general practices and transferring the patients to practices that are less generously funded and are therefore under great pressure. If you want to be very naughty you could ask NHS England exactly how much money it has taken out of South Woodham Ferrers as a result of closing these two surgeries and how much in total it expects to take out in the next decade by contacting it via this link: This is a massive problem – my practice’s funding for the year 2016- 17 was some £199,500 less than the average for Mid Essex according to a very astute patient (and that was a good year!) What is more Kingsway and Brickfields are both enduring substantial cutbacks … the figure that was being bandied about for Brickfields was a cutback of £160,000 over 4 years. Healthcare in SWF has always been the ‘poor relation’ – and always will be unless we kick up a stink. Dr John SOUTH WOODHAM FOCUS

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