Monthly Archives: May 2019


Prevention is better than cure we are told by one Health Secretary, who gives the following advice: ‘People must take more responsibility for their own health by eating less, stopping smoking and taking more exercise.’ These are Matt Hancock’s words of wisdom as he unveils a strategy to give everyone an extra five years of healthy living by 2035.

At present, boys can expect a healthy life expectancy of 63 .5 years with another 16 years in poor health. Girls can expect 64 years of healthy life plus 19 years of illness. Mr Hancock wants to use the technique of ‘predictive prevention’, where government data is used to target different messages at those to whom it is likely to apply. For example, pregnant women in Blackpool would receive stop smoking messages because the data shows pregnant women in Blackpool are much more likely to smoke than elsewhere.

The Health Secretary will call on GPs and other community services to step up to the plate to take the pressure off hospitals. However, he will also say prevention is about ensuring people take greater responsibility for managing their own health. ‘It’s about people choosing to look after themselves better, staying active and stopping smoking: Making better choices by limiting alcohol, sugar, salt and fat.’

The Health Secretary will add: ‘And the reason why getting prevention right really matters is because it’s the only way we can tackle health inequality.’ Mr Hancock will say prevention will be at the heart of an NHS long-term plan due later this year. In turn the NHS will do more to identify and tackle the root causes of poor health by using genomics, working with employers and improving housing.

Mr Hancock will also announce that the government is to put forward realistic but ambitious goals to bring salt levels down further by Easter. The Health Secretary will say: ‘We are spending 97 billion pounds of public money on treating disease and only 8 billion pounds preventing it across the UK. You don’t have to be an accountant to see those numbers don’t stack up.’

Duncan Selbey, Chief Executive of Public Health England said: ‘Investing in prevention is the smartest thing we can do. We need to move from a system that detects and treats illnesses to one that also predicts and prevents poor health through promoting health in all policies and puts people back in charge of their own health.’

Helen Donovan, Public Health Lead at the Royal College of Nursing, said: ‘We welcome the fact that the Health Secretary is making prevention a priority. But Mr Hancock must realise his plans will start at a disadvantage as local authorities struggle with planned cuts to public health budgets of almost 4% per year until 2021. While it’s clear, she says as optional extras we need to see properly funded accountable services delivered by a fully staffed nursing workforce backed by adequate resources.

Prevention will certainly make matters easier for the NHS as long as it is properly organised and adequately financed.


One sign of old age is the weakening of memory with regard to the capacity to remember people’s names, which I find rather embarrassing. Reading therefore that sleeping for nine hours a night could be as bad for one’s memory as only getting five has alerted me to the fact that oversleeping could be a major factor. Although in my case I tend to sleep on average less than five hours, but exceeded when I feel exhausted through overburdening myself with office work, which normally begins in the early hours of the morning.

It is well known that people who sleep fewer than five hours a night can expect memory problems. But a study has found the same effects in those who get a healthy-sounding nine hours a night. Researchers looked at memory tests results for almost 400,000 people who were asked to match six pairs of hidden cards after memorizing their position. Comparing people getting seven hours of sleep with those who reported sleeping for nine hours, all made the same number of errors as people sleeping five hours or less. They made 5% more errors in the card game, which fell to 2% when factors like age or sex were taken into account. And those who slept for ten hours made 11% more errors – 6% when adjusted for people’s characteristics.

The result suggests that sleeping for too long may hit thinking skills, just like sleep deprivation. Experts believe people who sleep for too long may have poorer sleeping quality, which prevents regions of the brain communicating properly and puts them at risk of cognitive issues. Researchers also looked at the genetics of the participants and so took account of those who were predisposed to sleeping longer. This ruled out health problems having an impact on their results.

Dr Victoria Garfield, senior author of the study for UCL, said it is ‘not that novel’ to find that less sleep is bad for you, but called this result ‘unusual’. She added: ‘Some people may think that going to bed and sleeping for as long as you like is fine but our findings show that sleeping for too long may affect memory.’ Albert Henry, lead author of the research, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, said: ‘We found little evidence that short or long sleep is linked to dementia, however more research is needed.’

My own experience leads me to believe that memory for names of people, once we attain the age of 80 or beyond is likely to deteriorate for some reason or other. This latest discovery as to the sleep factor is still worth taking note of.


For those people accustomed to reading my blog, I can assure them I have not been hibernating for the past three months. It was due to being in hospital, having fallen so seriously it resulted in suffering health complications – given my age of 88. Thankfully, I have finally recovered enough to get back to my old energetic self, a state I truly missed for quite a while.

The decision of the Prime Minister, Theresa May, to quit (which was long overdue) is a topic that galvanized the whole nation whilst at the same time bringing more chaos. This current Tory government will be damned by history as the worst of its kind; divided, inadequate and bereft of any political standards which the nation has ever seen.

Having lived in the United Kingdom since the age of 18 I have never encountered the mediocrity on the political stage as we are sadly experiencing today. The Brexit mish-mash is likely to destroy every aspect of Great Britain and reduce the nation to an insignificant role in the world arena. All the glories attributed to a once great nation are likely to be fragmented and forgotten unless a new prime minister sees the light and miraculously challenges the current political stupidity and saves us from the catastrophe of the Brexit mania.

I’m a great admirer of Britain’s unique past and pray that the abyss that the Tory government has plunged us into will soon be resolved and our past achievements will never be subject again to this derisory status which I believe is currently the case. What a welcome back it would be. We certainly deserve it!