Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Men and women aren't THAT different

It's good to see that hospitals continuing with mixed-sex wards will face penalties. It can be dehumanising. But I was still amused to hear the PM programme on Radio 4 citing the fact that a woman had woken up to find a man 'pleasuring himself' in the next bed as an example of why the practice should be stamped out. (The practice of mixed-sex wards, I mean.) The implication was that a man waking up to find the man in the next bed pleasuring himself would consider it perfectly acceptable.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Will this NHS Constitution stand up?

The contradictions from this government never cease to amaze. Once upon a time, they made some very sensible noises about how the mother of parliaments - ours - was fatally compromised by having an unelected second chamber built on privilege and patronage. They did away with part of the House of Lords but then got bored and left the rest of it looking, in constitutional terms, like a mad hatter's tea party.

Why mention this on a health blog? Because I was reminded of it when I saw the government's new constitution for the NHS. Gordon Brown called its signing a 'momentous day'. And to some extent, he's right. Clarifying our rights and responsibilities with regard to our most popular institution makes perfect sense. So presumably the next step will be a written constitution for the country as whole. You know, the sort of thing that Barack Obama has pledged to defend in the USA. Don't hold your breath.

It's these contradictions that make me wonder whether when push comes to shove, the NHS constitution will be worth even a wholly-devalued pound of the £1million spent on putting it together.

Will it, like the US constitution, be subject to amendment? Will Saturday night shift casualty doctors be given the right to bear arms, for example? Or, given the wages some of the sub-contractors are paid to clean our hospitals, what about an equivalent of the 13th amendment which abolished slavery? Either way, download it now ahead of the first amendment.

Friday, January 23, 2009

You've got to laugh at this research

Much amusement among the MHF staff following a news story claiming that men are better able to suppress their urges to scoff the sorts of tasty, tempting treats that can cause us to put on weight. Anyone who has ever been to an MHF event will confirm that this is patently untrue.

Of more serious concern is the widespread media coverage that was given to these findings which were based on a survey of just 23 people. How big is the study is one of the key questions to ask when trying to assess whether research is reliable.

Of course, male weight problems are often down to drink as much as food and the National Statistics office's data that more than 40% of men had exceeded safe drinking limits in the week before the survey. (The source of the stats is another important consideration and National Statistics are - usually - a pretty good one.) One man in 4 had drunk more than double the safe amount.

Less widely reported was the news that more people have heard of safe alcohol limits than 10 years ago - up from 75 to 86%.
Trouble is most people don't know what the safe limits are. Only 38% of people knew that the safe limit for men was three or four units a day. Check out the limits if you're not sure what they are or don't know exactly how much a unit is. (You'll need pop-ups enabled to get the best from this link.)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Don't barrack Obama

Christmas went by in a flash, new year in a blur. Cards forgotten, even emails and blogs uncomposed. But it's not too late to wish all malehealth readers a Happy Obama Day. As outlined on the MHF website, the USA's first black president has promised to reform the USA's health care system and make health insurance accessible to all including the 45 million Americans who currently have no cover for all.

This is a country where people move out of their homes and live in tents to afford chemotherapy so let's hope he can do it and do it quick. He's promised it by the end of his first term. We wish him luck. With the insurance and drug companies solidly against any changes to the system which has made them so wealthy, he'll need it. if he manages it, he'll have justified every ounce of the hype that surrounds this historic day.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Cheap online drugs? You should smell a rat.

Ever seen a man regurgitate a rat? You will if you visit the cinema anytime soon. It's part of a new cinema ad by drug company Pfizer designed to raise awareness of the dangers of buying drugs online. Here's the You Tube version of the ad:

Pretty hard-hitting, isn't it? What do you think?

The Men's Health Forum which runs the malehealth site is backing the campaign because as well as the risk of finding something dangerous such as rat poison in a fake drug, there is another even bigger risk. Problems like poor erections can be a symptom of a dangerous underlying health problem like heart disease or diabetes. By diagnosing yourself and buying online you'll never know. The result could be fatal.

We know men want to use the internet buy drugs and it can be done safely. The malehealth guide to online drugs includes everything you need to know.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Recession can seriously damage your health

It's been so long since I blogged you probably thought I'd joined the increasing army of unemployed. But fear not, we're still here and the day MHF president Ian Banks compares the P45 to the loaded gun is a good day to get back to the blog.

As the recession bites, we need our health - mental and physical. It's important, as the president of the Association of Directors of Public Health says this month, that health is not neglected by the government as it tries to find solutions to the economic crisis.

As belts are being tightened everywhere, it's really important to know what you can expect from the NHS. This month's article from the man from NICE (National Institute of Clinical Excellence), the organisation who set guidelines for the NHS will help. The dole and and depression go hand in hand. Did you know that for mild depression, NICE recommends talking therapies like counselling? Your GP ought to offer this.

There's also advice on malehealth about how get the best to use the NHS and how to deal with depression when it hits. Losing your job happens. It's not your fault. It's a joke of system. How can society be richer than it has ever been but it members more insecure than they've ever been? No, it's not your fault. But understand the danger. An economic downturn can change the way you feel about life and yourself. You need to be aware of that and get help sooner rather than later if you feel yourself falling.

Government and health policy makers need to understand the real health impact of unemployment and recession but it's important that those of us affected by it understand it to.