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. …

Now Wash Your Hands

First published in the NASGP Newsletter in June 2019 A century after Semmelweis published his paper on reducing the spread of infection in maternity wards, his advice reached the Department of Health. In post-war Italy TB was still rife and notices in buses commanded “No Spitting”. In Britain in 1946 the message “Coughs and sneezes …

Sin City: the Redemption

First published: in the NASGP Newsletter in April 2018 The UK is losing the ‘war on drugs’. We might learn from Colombia as it recovers from decades of violence brought about by its illegal manufacture and export of cocaine. Twenty-five years ago Medellín in Colombia was the murder capital of the world. The city was …

Understanding Denial: a Visit to the Faroe Islands

First published in the NASGP Newsletter in June 2018 What can public health in UK learn from the Faroese tradition of whaling about changing cultural traditions? The Islands and the Whales is a documentary by lawyer-turned-filmmaker Mike Day. It isn’t simply about whaling in the Faroe Islands. It’s an exploration of the practical and emotional obstacles …

A Viper’s Nest of Treasures

First published in the NASGP Newsletter in September 2018 Since the antihypertensive captopril went on the market in 1981 captopril has probably saved many more lives than have been lost to the venom of pit vipers from which it was derived. I’ve watched snake charmers capitalising on our fear of snakes, and I have observed …

Fringe Medicine

First published in the NASGP Newsletter in October 2018 Medics have a long-standing relationship with the annual August circus that is the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Medical students reprise their pantomimes as reviews. Specialty registrars mine their store of horror stories to test whether a career in theatrical stand-up would be more rewarding than a career …