Health

Why Ireland is saying ‘we are not going back’

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Conor Reddy on how the emergency response to the pandemic has strengthened the demand for an all Ireland national health service

A particular effect of the pandemic has been the exposition of long running structural deficiencies in the provision of healthcare across Ireland. In the most acute phase of the pandemic, the real threat of hospitals being overwhelmed forced unprecedented action from governments North and South — budgets were increased, recruitment moratoriums lifted and private hospital capacity was taken into public control.

The ‘hostile environment’ is targeting the most vulnerable

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Covid-19 disproportionally affects BAME people and migrants, yet they have most to fear from seeking treatment, writes Jim Fagan

Since 2015 new health regulations have introduced charges for a growing number of patients wanting to access NHS services. Since then, NHS Trusts must identify and charge people deemed ineligible for free care. People who live outside the European Economic Area and Switzerland will require health insurance when they visit the UK, and those with no insurance will be charged at 150 percent of the NHS national tariff for any care they receive. An Immigration Health Surcharge has also been introduced.

The fight for our health

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Social inequality is reflected most harshly in our chances to lead a healthy life, argues Esme Choonara. But the fight for better healthcare rests in the fundamental way our society is organised

The Covid-19 pandemic has shone a spotlight on the devastating health inequalities faced by working class people and in particular those from Black, Asian and other minority ethnic backgrounds. It has also revealed how decades of underfunding, understaffing and privatisation have undermined our NHS. So although our health, or lack of it, may sometimes feel very personal, it is clearly shaped by social and economic factors including housing, income, working conditions, discrimination and pollution levels.

Corruption, cronyism and abject failure

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Is there anyone left in Britain, apart from that tiny, tiny minority of individuals with a vested financial interest, who thinks that entrusting to private health capital Britain’s response to the pandemic was ever a good idea? The British Medical Association certainly don’t. Their report published mid-September, The Role of Private Outsourcing in the Covid 19 Response, is an expose and utter condemnation of how contracting out virtually every aspect of pandemic-related services has been an utter and complete disaster.

How austerity undermined public health across Britain

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As COVID-19 continues to inflict terrible damage, it is the privatisation of social care, and the undermining of the NHS, that is the root of the crisis now facing healthcare

At the beginning of April, Queen Elizabeth II told a television audience: “Together we are tackling this disease, and I want to reassure you that if we remain united and resolute, then we will overcome it.” Her appearance was filmed by a single cameraman encased in body-covering protective clothing. No shortage of PPE here.

Compare this with a care home for older people in Liverpool run by Future Care Capital, a care provider increasingly reliant on venture capital.

What makes a disease go viral?

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Lee Humber finds the true origins of the Coronavirus epidemic in the innards of the food industry.

Viral epidemics are not uncommon. This year’s flu season is shaping up to be the worst in years, according to the US Centre for Disease Control. In the US alone there have been 19 million illnesses, 180,000 hospitalisations and 10,000 deaths.

More than 200 people in the UK had died from the 2018-19 winter strain of flu virus by February 2019, and there were more than 2,000 critical cases despite the relatively small numbers of people contracting it — meaning the virus had become more virulent. People who had been previously fit and well became critically ill.

A catastrophic failure to act

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As the Ebola crisis continues to rage across West Africa, Tokunbo Oke recalls the history of colonialism and neoliberal policies, which has ravaged the continent and left many states unable to withstand the epidemic.

The current Ebola crisis has been running for seven months — yet you would not know that from the media coverage in the West. The epidemic has only become a major concern since US and European citizens have become victims. British nurse William Pooley, who has returned to Sierra Leone to help victims having recovered from Ebola himself, has been rightly hailed for his heroism. But the deaths of several hundred African doctors and nurses from the disease so far have been virtually ignored.

The Last Asylum

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In a culture where mental illness still carries much stigma Barbara Taylor’s memoir is an important book about pain and treatment.

Taylor, a biographer of Mary Wollstonecraft, describes her agonising journey of mental collapse. In the 1980s she began psychoanalysis in order to seek help for her anxiety, depression, insomnia and drinking.

She was admitted to Friern mental asylum — the largest asylum in Europe which closed its doors in 1993, a year after Taylor was discharged.

The drugs don't work

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The World Health Organisation (who) warned in April of the “devastating” potential impacts of antibiotic resistance. Antibiotics are used to kill bacteria. Before they were used widely in the 1950s, minor infections could become serious or even fatal.

They are also vital for surgery and for preventing people from getting ill when their ability to fight infection is weakened during cancer treatment.

But the more they are used, the more opportunity there is for bacteria to evolve into resistant “superbugs” like MRSA.

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