The King’s Fund alternative guide to the new NHS in England

Still confused by reforms to the NHS? Watch and listen to a new short animation by the King’s Fund, which “gives a whistle-stop tour of where the NHS is now – how the new organisations work and fit together – and explains that our new system is as much a product of politics and circumstance as design”.

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Parliamentarians call on all political parties to commit to tackling alcohol harm

In a manifesto released on Monday 11 August 2014, the All Parliamentary Party Group (APPG) on Alcohol Misuse is calling on political parties to effectively minimise alcohol related harm in the UK.

The Alcohol Misuse All Party Parliamentary Group, which exists to promote the discussion of alcohol-related issues, raise matters of concern and to make recommendations to government and other policy makers, is asking all political parties to commit to 10 measures.

The 10 measures include calling for the strengthening of alcohol advertising regulations and a phased ban on alcohol sponsorship, an increase in funding for treatment and access levels for problem drinkers, and the introduction of minimum unit pricing. There are also calls to make the training of parental substance abuse mandatory for all social workers and healthcare professionals, and for national public awareness and behaviour change campaigns on alcohol to be independently funded.

Tracey Crouch MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Alcohol Misuse, said: “Due to alcohol, one person is killed every hour and 1.2 million people are admitted to hospital a year.”

“Getting political parties to seriously commit to these 10 measures will be a massive step in tackling the huge public health issue that alcohol is.”

Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe, vice-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Alcohol Misuse, said: “After smoking, alcohol is the second biggest preventable killer. Not only does it cost lives but burdens the NHS and the Criminal and Justice systems and others with ever increasing costs.

“All the political parties know that but they run for cover when they are confronted by the drinks industry and its immensely powerful lobby.

“These proposals give them another chance to consider whether they really have the guts to take a different line for the country’s wellbeing in the future.”

Alcohol Concern provides the secretariat for the All Party Parliamentary Group on Alcohol Misuse and welcomes the calls from the APPG.

Jackie Ballard, Chief Executive of Alcohol Concern, said: “Alcohol misuse costs Britain £21 billion a year. We need urgent action to tackle this and the significant harmful effects alcohol misuse causes to individuals. I hope all parties will read the manifesto and show a commitment to the vital measures which it highlights.”

Further reading:

BBC article

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On Thursday, 21 August, at 7.30pm, ITV’s Tonight programme investigates whether the health claims made about superfoods are based on fact or fiction. 

Click here to watch

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Quote of the week via chartered physiotherapist and author, Jane Johnson.

Do you have a favourite quote or saying?

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Researchers find that a daily aspirin may reduce cancer risk

To reap the benefits, said the study, patients needed to take a 75-100 mg daily dose for at least five years, and preferably for 10 years, between the ages of 50 and 65. No benefit was seen while taking aspirin for the first three years, but an effect was then seen on incidence. Death rates reduced only after five years, and most of the benefits were seen after patients had taken aspirin over a prolonged period and then stopped.

You can access the full article on thebmj.com for 14 days

BBC report 

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One lucky FHT member will win a complete Hydrotherm Massage System and training, worth £594!

For entry details, see page 51 in your latest issue of International Therapist, or read online at: www.fht.org.uk/internationaltherapist

Closing date: tomorrow!

Image: John Holman Therapy Solutions

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Healthy salads stuffed with secret salt, revealed in new survey by CASH

Huge amounts of salt continue to be added to many restaurant, café and supermarket salads, according to a new survey by Consensus Action on Salt & Health (CASH). This is despite calls in 2010 to lower salt in salads, as certain restaurateurs and food manufacturers continue to sneak in large amounts of unnecessary salt when it comes to serving up their ‘healthier’ dishes and raising the nation’s blood pressure [Ref 1].

CASH surveyed 650 ready-to-eat salads available for purchase from supermarkets, restaurants, cafes and fast food restaurants and found nearly three quarters (77% - 511 products) to contain more salt than a packet of crisps (0.5g/portion) [Ref 2].

Of the out of home salads:

  • A McDonald’s ‘Crispy Chicken & Bacon Salad’ has MORE salt (1.3g vs 1.2g), fat (19g vs 8g) and calories (380kcal vs 250kcal) per portion than a McDonald’s Hamburger [Ref 3].
  • Pizza Express’ ‘Grand Chicken Caesar Salad’ contains an astonishing 5.3g salt/serving, the equivalent of two and a half Big Macs [Ref 4], and almost your whole days’ worth of salt (6g) in just one meal.
  • Pizza Express’ ‘Warm Vegetable & Goats Cheese Salad’ containing 5g salt/serving – four fifths (83%) of your maximum recommended intake.
  • Wagamama’s ‘Lobster Super Salad’ contains 4.5g salt/serving – three quarters (75%) of your salt limit for the day in just one meal.
  • Nando’s ‘Mediterranean Salad with Chicken Breast’ which sounds like the healthy option contains a whopping 4.00g salt/serving, that’s two thirds (67%) our maximum recommended intake.

Of the supermarket salads, examples of those with the largest amount of salt/serving include:

  • Morrisons ‘Chicken & Bacon Pasta Salad’ 2.8g salt/290g serving
  • Marks & Spencer ‘Chicken, Bacon & Sweetcorn Pasta Salad’ 2.58g salt/380g serving
  • Boots ‘Delicious Simply Tuna & Sweetcorn Pasta Salad’ 2.25g salt/300g serving
  • John West ‘Light Lunch Moroccan Style Salmon Salad’ 2.2g salt/220g serving

What’s interesting is that even the specially created foods which target the health conscious shopper e.g. superfood and detox salads, can also contain a high salt content. For example:

  • Pod ‘Chicken Detox Box’ contains 4.0g salt/serving (two thirds (67%) of our maximum recommended intake)
  • Pizza Express under 500 calories ‘Leggera Salmon Salad’ contains 2.4g salt/serving (over one third (40%) of our maximum recommended intake)

If you read the label, you can find lower salt options, however over one in ten (15%) salads would get a red (high) colour for salt, and two thirds (69%) would receive an amber (medium) colour [Ref 5]. The survey found some salads surveyed with much less salt added included a mixture from both restaurants and supermarkets, for example:

  • Boots Shapers ‘Moroccan Style Roasted Vegetable Salad’ 0.5g/225g serving
  • Caffè Nero ‘Chicken Salad with Caesar Dressing’ 0.5g/178g serving
  • Waitrose ‘Refreshing & Delicate Quinoa & Sugar Snap Pea Salad’ 0.51g/170g serving

NB. These are examples of salads where portion sizes are the whole packet and dressing is included

FoodSwitch, a free health app available on smartphones and can easily help you choose healthier and lower salt salads [Ref 6]. Simply scan a products barcode and the app will instantly tell you whether the product is high (red), medium (amber) or low (green) in fat, saturates, sugar and salt per 100g.

Sonia Pombo, a nutritionist at CASH explains, “Say the word ‘salad’ and you tend to imagine a bowl of healthy stuff nestled amongst some leaves, but that’s not accurate. Whilst salad itself is both healthy and tasty, food manufacturers and restaurants continue to add unnecessary salt to the dish, which not only alters the taste and makes you feel bloated, but more seriously, can lead to high blood pressure – the main cause of strokes and heart attacks.”

In 2010, CASH conducted a similar salad survey [Ref 7] and thankfully the average salt content in supermarkets salads has reduced significantly by 35% since 2005, from 1.64g/portion to 1.26g/portion in 2010 and to 1.05g/portion in 2014. Congratulations to manufacturers that have made reductions.

Graham MacGregor, CASH Chairman and Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the Wolfson Institute, Queen Mary University of London says “It is nonsensical that something as seemingly healthy as a salad should contain an ingredient that is proven to be harmful to your health. Whilst we congratulate the responsible manufacturers that have gradually reduced the salt in their products, we urge ALL manufacturers to sign up to the Department of Health’s 2017 salt pledge [Ref 8] and to cut the salt in their dishes now. Many salads are deceptively high in salt, and the very large variation of salt content shows that the highest ones can easily be reduced. The food industry needs to show much greater responsibility for its customers’ health.”

Top tips for making healthier salad choices;

  • Keep an eye out for salty ingredients e.g. cheese, capers, anchovies etc. These will easily up your salt intake
  • Beware misleading portion sizes on front of pack e.g. a third of a packet, or 1 tablespoon. This gives favourable values for front of pack labelling, when realistically you would eat the whole packet
  • Many salad dressings are packed with salt and calories. Choose one with less salt, add less to your salad, or leave it out completely
  • Make your own salad! Opt for healthy low salt ingredients, and make your own dressing e.g. olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice. Pack your salad with herbs for extra flavour
  • Check the label! Use FoodSwitch to make switching easier
  • For a more flavoursome salad, add unsalted beans, pulses, nuts and seeds

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Poll finds many doctors want tighter controls on e-cigarettes

Many doctors want tighter regulations on the availability of e-cigarettes and some favour a complete ban, according to a new poll from Doctors.net.uk, the UK’s largest online network of doctors.

The poll, which was conducted among 525 primary and secondary care doctors, found that 40% thought e-cigarettes should be available only as an over the counter (OTC) product in pharmacies.

Thirteen per cent of doctors, who took part in the poll said e-cigarettes should be prescription-only products. Sixteen per cent of respondents did not think e-cigarettes should be on the market at all; while the remaining 31% of doctors believed they should be freely available.

Dr James Quekett, a practising GP and Director of Educational Services for Doctors.net.uk, said: ‘I think e-cigarettes need to be regulated like a medicine and then be available as a pharmacy-only product. This would bring them into line with nicotine replacement products.

'Since e-cigarettes are not currently regulated as medicines; we do not know exactly what is in them apart from nicotine. Therefore, while it might be assumed that e-cigarettes are safer than traditional cigarettes because they do not contain all the toxic elements of cigarette smoke, we do not know that for a fact, and we cannot advise patients on any long-term health implications.'

Dr Michael Blackmore, a retired GP, said: ‘E-cigarettes are undoubtedly safer than tobacco in terms of the cancer risk as there are no Benzo(a)pyrenes in the vapour. However, I am less sure about the cardiovascular risk which may be more closely related to nicotine. 

'Since e-cigarettes are much cheaper than tobacco, people may be tempted to actually increase daily consumption of nicotine and this could heighten the risk of cardiovascular problems. I would, therefore, like to see e-cigarettes available as OTC products in pharmacies until their safety is better established.'

Dr Tim Ringrose, CEO of Doctors.net.uk, said: ‘Our research shows that many doctors are concerned about e-cigarettes and want tighter controls on where and how they are made available. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) will be deliberating on this when it regulates e-cigarettes as medicines.’

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Quote of the week via International Therapist (Issue 98 October 2011)

Do you have a favourite quote or saying?

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National Association of Complementary Therapists in Hospice and Palliative Care

NACTHPC Conference and 14th AGM

Wednesday 17th September 2014

“Exploring Dementia”

at

University of Warwick, Coventry

Full details

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