2016 has been a turbulent year for health care in the United Kingdom. Aside from repeated strikes held by junior doctors in light of the government’s decision to enforce a new employment contract, the more recent widespread political discord resulting from Britain’s decision to leave the European Union (EU) — now notoriously known as “Brexit.” These changes have left the National Health Service (NHS) in a questionable position.
Major sporting events like the Olympics and the Super Bowl are often surrounded with excitement and drama. This year’s Olympics in Brazil is buzzing with talk of the Zika virus. The Super Bowl was fraught with drama surrounding Beyoncé’s half-time performance. It seems like everyone has something to say about these topics. But, one thing spectators don’t talk about is an unseen drama that often surrounds major sporting events: sex trafficking.
In today’s America, it is well documented that each year, more of our GDP is being devoted to healthcare spending, and a disproportionate amount of that healthcare spending is towards end-of-life care. According to a 2013 report from The Medicare NewsGroup, Medicare spending reached about $554 billion in 2011. This was 21 percent of the total spent on health care in the US that year. About 28 percent of that $554 billion — $170 billion — was spent on patients’ last six months of life.
During our many years of medical training, we study complex physiological processes running the gamut from acute sepsis to the equally devastating progression of chronic diseases. We spend countless hours in lectures and on the wards, attempting to gain exposure to proper medical management of bread-and-butter medical problems as well as more obscure diseases which may only affect a handful of patients annually. However, most medical schools neglect to teach one crucial area of expertise — training in advocacy skills to address social determinants of health.
While I could list close to 100 lessons, I believe focusing on three of the most important ones would aid other future health professionals in managing and ultimately treating the chronic illnesses that will become even more prevalent in many of our future patients. As a disclaimer, I do not claim to be an expert on this topic, but these ideas spring from my own personal reflections.
In the UK, there is currently a dispute over the new junior doctor contract. “Junior doctors” are defined as anyone in training and who is not a consultant. Many have deemed the new contract neither safe nor fair, and despite doctors striking, the Department of Health are intending to impose this contract in August 2016. On April 26, there will be a 48-hour full strike including emergency care — the first of its kind in the history of the National Health Services (NHS) — in the hope that the government will change their mind.
Recent announcements by the British government that a revised contract on junior physicians’ salary and working hours across England will be imposed has come under intense scrutiny. Criticisms from the national workforce to media figures and opposing party politicians have ranged from accusations of compromising patient safety to ensuing longer working hours with reduced pay as compared to the current scheme for around 55,000 affected doctors. But the retaliating strikes on part of the National Health Service (NHS) workforce in protest have certainly proved controversial.
you may have seen / serpents before / on a white coat lapel / or a hospital door
Over 120,000 adults and children are waiting for an organ in the United States, and another patient needing an organ is added to the transplant list every ten minutes. On average, about 20 Americans die every day from the lack of available organs for transplant. Specific to kidney transplant, it has been estimated that by 2015, over 700,000 Americans will have end stage renal disease and over 26 million will have some form of chronic kidney disease.
The Ontario government is cutting physician services. Two rounds of unilateral fee cuts, with the most recent on October 1, saw physician fees cut by 1.3 percent. Different from other public sector employees, physicians have a commitment to patient care, limiting their legal and ethical ability to take job action. As a medical student not currently earning a salary — but rather paying $24,000 a year in tuition — and junior member of the Ontario Medical Association (OMA), I can only passively observe the reaction of many doctors in Ontario to these cuts, and the accompanying provincial government’s almost apathetic response.
Soon Floridians will be heading to the polls to vote in the upcoming election. Among important positions that will be voted upon, the decision to allow the sale of medical marijuana to qualified patients will be one of them. Currently there are 23 states that legalized the use of medical marijuana, including Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York. In the previous general election of 2014, Florida marginally missed legalizing marijuana: 57 percent of voters said yes, but it takes 60 percent to make it into law.
Approximately one in three women under the age of 45 have had an abortion. Approximately one in three women under the age of 45 have a tattoo. Think about your community. How many tattoo parlors can you think of? How many can you easily access? How many abortion clinics can you think of? How many can you easily access?