Whether Jesus or The Expectation Effect, miracles do happen…

crepuscular rays beyond trees under blue sky

A friend of many years sought my help in 2019 for what seemed, judging by the symptoms, to be uncomplicated heartburn. He worked in hospitality and he worked hard with plenty of stress as he was self-employed and an employer. Initially over-the-counter omeprazole and Gaviscon managed the symptoms but they returned aggressively at which point I insisted he visit his GP as weight-loss was also becoming apparent. The GP immediately referred him to hospital where a progressed lesion in his …

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Health Crisis: “When you don’t have political leadership, you don’t get decisions..”

bridge, autumn, nature

This is a useful addendum to my post on Friday, which highlighted the deleterious effect of political boycotting of the only institutions that can deliver real change both in the here and now and in the longer term for four out of the last six years. John Compton, author of the previous report the joint first ministers of the DUP and Sinn Féin also chose to ignore, Transforming Your Care had this to say about the total absence of any real …

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NI politics still mired in fear and loathing largely because it remains stubbornly unaccountable…

Have you noticed how weird the democratic world is getting (yes, outside Northern Ireland)? The UK has had three PMs in as many months, and now the US Congress is being to ransom by a caucus of no more than 5% of Representatives. The world (not just the UK) is getting more and more like Northern Ireland where we’re never sure what we want but we are sure as clear about what we don’t want. One common link between all …

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The dreaded lurgy sweeps across the country…

white ceramic mug on white table beside black eyeglasses

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I think I am a character in some kind of Sims game, and we all live in a collective illusion. Occasionally you see glitches in the Matrix, like when you pull up at the lights, and there are three other red Golfs next to you. Whatever God or Monster currently controlling us has decided to shake things up. When the health service is particularly on its knees, it unleashes a wave of lurgy …

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Autism: A Few Words* For Family and Friends of Late-Discovery Autistic People

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Have a family member going for a late-discovery adult Autism diagnosis? Maybe a friend has talked more and more about understanding their own ‘traits’? Or you might be confused by, even wary of, Autism’s terminology? There might be something here in my recent journey to understand my own Autism that you might find useful. Of course, every individual’s experience and every person’s Autism is different and – most of all – no voice is more important than that of your …

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Media’s responsibility in reporting health stories: avoiding public panic…

person using both laptop and smartphone

The death of a child from an infectious disease is shocking and heartbreaking in equal measure. It’s thankfully so rare nowadays that when it occurs, and the event is local, it understandably causes panic. Over the past week, with the reported tragic death of Stella-Lily McCorkindale following a spike in Strep A infections locally and other child deaths across the UK (there have been an estimated 16 deaths to date), we went straight to panic mode. The pressure on out-of-hours …

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Return of the Psychedelics…

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When I met Albert Hoffman in Basle in the late 1970s I had no idea who he was. At a pharmacy student conference, he was the main speaker and I was immediately enthralled and captivated as he outlined his work on the discovery of LSD and his interest in the origins of man’s association with psychopharmacology. I have remained enthralled ever since. I read all I could find on the topic in the years following his lecture. Foolishly I wrote …

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When it comes to getting a diagnosis, it is better late than never…

person sitting while using laptop computer and green stethoscope near

From my earliest childhood, I was aware there were medical issues which set me apart from my peer group. I suffered from asthma and infantile eczema in childhood, but largely grew out of them as I got older. They did lead to my missing primary school a lot, and not getting involved in sport, but I became a keen reader instead, which was to help me academically. However, as time went on it became clear that there were other issues …

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Widespread protests across China against Covid restrictions…

group of people standing in front of brown wooden table

I have never been to China, but whenever I read about it or watch any documentaries, I am always surprised by how subservient the people seem. The infamous social credit system sounds like a dystopian nightmare. The general bargain seems to be shut up and take in, and in return, we will give you material wealth. This has all worked the past decade or two, but cracks in the system have been materialising. There were the property protests last year, …

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Vaping: We’re being fooled again….

grayscale photography of smoking man

Normally coal-mine owners don’t advise on climate change and Mcdonald’s or Mars don’t advise on healthy eating so why all of a sudden is Big Tobacco advising on health? Big Tobacco, which produces a product that has killed countless millions over the last 100 years and will kill countless millions in the coming years, is now positioning itself as a business committed to our health and well-being. You really need to applaud the nerve. There are now more than three …

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Why are we so apathetic about our collapsing Health Service?

Another week, another crisis in our Health Service. This time Antrim A&E had to close its doors over the weekend due to unprecedented demand. The core issue seems to be bed blocking. They can discharge patients, but there is nowhere for them to go as they are waiting on care packages or need to go into a care home to convalesce. It is a bit like a hotel, they can’t take more guests until the current ones leave. But there …

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Review of ‘Beauty through Broken Windows’ on the World Day of the Poor

Today is the ‘World Day of the Poor’, observed in the Catholic Church since 2017 when it was established by Pope Francis. It’s a day to remind Christians of their obligations to follow Christ’s example to pursue justice for the poor. A new book, Beauty through Broken Windows: Empowering Edmund Rice’s Vision Today, edited by Aidan Donaldson and Denis Gleeson, is an excellent resource for learning more about how Christians around the world are living out such a vision. The …

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Good Science, Bad Science. The ups and downs of ivermectin…

multicolored stairs handrail

I first came face-to-face with Bill Campbell where he stood outside the old stone fish house at the top of the Mall in Ramelton. As he was a newcomer to the Lennon river bank I stopped to ask who Bill was and why he was there. To my shame, I had never heard of him. Since his 2015 Nobel Prize for medicine this 92-year-old son of Co. Donegal has become an international celebrity; the man who discovered ivermectin the drug …

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Join us for A Slugger Cafe Conversation on the crisis in the GP service. 2:30pm Sat 5th Nov…

Can’t get through to your GP? Then when you get through, the next appointment is weeks away? How can we improve the GP service for doctors and patients? Join us as we take a deep dive into the current crisis in the GP service. We will be joined by Belfast GP Dr Michael McKenna and by an expert in health economics, Professor Ciaran O’Neill from QUB. Brian O’Neill from Slugger will be chairing the event with assistance from expert facilitator …

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What is behind the spike in excess deaths?

colored pencil lined up on top of white surface

Vaccine season again. Flu is likely to be a problem this winter and it is essential that all those eligible get their flu jab as soon as possible. Vaccination generally is an incredibly effective public health intervention. We were all convinced with the miracle that was the Covid19 vaccine programme but, as we jab patients for the 5th time with a vaccine that has had little modification since introduced in December 2020, perhaps we need a proper critical assessment of …

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It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society…

Walkarounds in Amsterdam.

The headline is a quote from the late Indian philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti. Today is World Mental Health Day; you would imagine that mental health would be important every day, but what do I know… I hate the way the media covers mental health. They do that thing where they drop their voice and tilt their head to their side like they are talking to a 5-year-old girl who is offering them an imaginary cookie. Or else we get the heartwarming …

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We are not moving forward. We are not moving back. We are simply standing in the middle of the road…

Colin McGrath is an SDLP MLA for South Down  The creation of the National Health Service on 5 July 1948 was the first time, anywhere in the world, that completely free healthcare was made available based on citizenship. It was and remains for many, a radical ideal. The Minister for Health in the UK’s Labour government at the time, Aneurin Bevan, aware that many people saw its inception as radical responded with typical post-war Labour zeal, “We know what happens …

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Heroin Assisted Treatment is coming but will it reduce drug harms?

A person using spoon and syringe in consuming illegal substance

Increasingly it seems, politicians, media columnists and other opinion leaders support further liberalisation of recreational drug use. The Utopia they seek is to rid society of the drug pushers and the cartels. The mess drug use creates in any society is unpleasant to say the least and when things are at their worst it is then, in moral panic, we move; creatively, innovatively with much less resistance towards other ways to address the problem. The War on Drugs was lost …

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Covid. It hasn’t gone away you know…

virus, corona, pandemic

After nearly 3 years of dodging it, this week, I have succumbed to Covid. I woke up on Wednesday with a headache. I was able to function ok that morning, but when I met my wife for lunch, a wave of nausea hit me as soon as I bit into my first chip. That night I had aches and pains all over my body, especially in the lower back. Then there was the tiredness and alternating shivers and sweating. Luckily …

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Rishi Sunak and the Science and politics of Covid19…

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The Spectator got great publicity for its interview last week with Rishi Sunak.  The Spectator’s lockdown-sceptical editor Fraser Nelson sees his interview with Rishi as a coup being the first, in advance of a public inquiry into Covid19, to suggest that democracy wasn’t working well during Covid19 and that too few unelected scientists were alone in deciding and making policy. Superficially it all sounds as if Rishi was against lockdowns just unable to influence things even though he was the …

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