The Health of the Nation: Who’s Keeping Score?

First published in the NASGP Newsletter in April 2021 How many new year’s resolutions have you kept? If I don’t get around to clearing out the box room, no-one is going to hold me to account and it isn’t the end of the world. How many countries fulfil their undertakings to cut carbon emissions? If …

Searching for the Sweet Spot

First published in the NASGP Newsletter in December 2020 On family outings to the seaside I always looked longingly at the candy floss stalls. But my mother wouldn’t let me have any, even in exchange for my daily sweet ration of seven Smarties. When, eventually, I was in charge of my own pocket money and …

How Do We Let Down the Drawbridge?

First published in the NASGP Newsletter in October 2020 A year ago, who could define social distancing? Now, we’re all aware, though even people in authority seem unsure of exactly what the distance is and when it matters. Last month we took a train to Dorset, our first venture outside London since March. All my …

Learning to Live with Masks

First published in the NASGP Newsletter in August 2020 Masks are going to be with us for a long time to come. We’d all better get used to them. Masks are uncomfortable, your glasses steam up, they muffle sounds and restrict facial expressions. It’s difficult to know if you are wearing them correctly. You can’t …

Beware the Old Normal

First published in the NASGP Newsletter in June 2020 What good has come from this unprecedented social experiment? And how do we preserve it? Last Friday, on my way to the pharmacy, a young woman, mask-less, was walking straight towards me, her eyes glued to her phone. Fortunately, one of us was alert.For me, she …

Antimicrobial Resistance: Can We Outrun Evolution?

First published in the NASGP Newsletter in February, 2020 This was written at the end of January 2020. Since then Covid-19 has trumped almost every other medical challenge, but in the future we will need effective antibiotics all the more. In his Nobel prize acceptance speech Alexander Fleming sounded a note of warning. He had …

Doctors under Siege

First published in the NASGP Newsletter in December, 2019 Bashar al Assad, President of Syria, Damascus, April 2011 In 2011, Hamza was a young Syrian doctor learning German in the hope of going abroad for specialist training. Then the civil war broke out and he opted to stay in Aleppo, operating in makeshift hospitals on …

I’ve Seen the Future of General Practice, and . . .

First published in the NASGP Newsletter in October, 2019 Social prescribing transforms 21st century lives A partner in a North London practice was feeling burned out. The crushing target-chasing workload was no longer offset by the reward of helping patients. The BNF had no remedy for the distresses of modern life which patients were bringing …

Quiet, Please!

First published in the NASGP Newsletter in August 2019 Noisy environments aren’t a new phenomenon, but we are only now recognising how noise endangers our health. The Royal Opera House orchestra was rehearsing Die Walküre. For more than three hours violist Chris Goldscheider sat in front of twenty brass players belting out Wagner at 90dB. …