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February 2016

29Feb 2016

Membership of social groups after retirement ‘boosts health and wellbeing’

New research published by BMJ Open suggests that membership of social groups such as book clubs or church groups after retirement is linked with improved health and wellbeing.

The research backs NICE’s recent recommendations advising councils to do more to offer group activities to older people in order to tackle loneliness and improve wellbeing.

While many older people are active well into their retirement, figures suggest that between 5 and 16% of people over 65 say they are often or always lonely. The Mental Health Foundation also estimates that around a fifth of adults aged over 65 living in the community have depression.

In the latest study, researchers from the University of Queensland tracked the health of 424 people for 6 years after they had retired. Their health was then compared with the same number of people matched for age, sex, and health status, but who were still working.

Each participant was asked how many different organisations, clubs and societies they belonged to. They were also asked to complete a validated score to assess quality of life and subjective physical health.

The study found that membership of social groups was associated with quality of life, and that compared with those still working, every group membership lost after retirement was associated with a 10% drop in quality of life 6 years later.

If a person belonged to 2 groups before they retired, and kept them up over the next 6 years, their risk of death was 2%. But this rose to 5% if they gave up membership of 1 group, and 12% if they gave up membership of both.

The researchers also found that this impact was comparable with the benefits gained from physical exercise both before and after retirement.

Read full story: Membership of social groups after retirement ‘boosts health and wellbeing

29Feb 2016

Motor neurone disease guidelines to have “hugely significant” impact on care

Updated motor neurone disease guidelines will have a “hugely significant” impact on care, according one national charity.

The guidelines, published by NICE, aim to improve and standardise care for people who have motor neurone disease (MND).

MND is a group of rare, incurable, progressive, fatal neurodegenerative diseases that attack the motor neurones in the brain and spinal cord. Around 1100 people will develop MND each year in the UK and around 5000 adults currently live with the disease.

Typical symptoms include muscle weakness, wasting, cramps, problems with speech and swallowing, and rare cases, breathing problems. Most people with MND die within 2-3 years of developing symptoms, but 25% are alive at 5 years, and between 5 and 10% are alive at 10 years.

Since there is no cure for MND, the aim of care for the diseases is to maintain ability to function and enable those with MND and their family members to live as full a life as possible.

Currently, care for MND varies. While MND care centres and networks provide coordinated multidisciplinary care, some people with MND are left isolated and their care is less than ideal.

The NICE guidelines include recommendations that cover the care of people with MND from diagnosis until preparation for end of life care to help improve and standardise assessment and management of the disease.

Read full story: Motor neurone disease guidelines to have “hugely significant” impact on care

28Feb 2016

Statement: RTC, A5 28/02/2016

Earlier this morning, one of our ambulance crews came across a road traffic collision involving four vehicles and stopped to offer assistance. It was quickly ascertained that it was a no-injury collision, however due to the risk to the occupants and other motorists, our crew remained on scene until the Police arrived.

During this time, a photograph was taken of the scene (which included members of the public, their vehicles and our ambulance and crew) by a passing motorist and posted by them to our Facebook page along with the comment “you don’t have any photographs like this”.

As soon as this post was identified, it was removed by us, to which the original poster posted it again.

Our crews stop at many road traffic incidents as they go about their daily work, and is not something we feel we should be posting about on social media. We would like to stress that it is not our policy to post photographs of any incident we attend or road traffic collisions we come across and is something that will not change.

Should any one have any queries or concerns, our Operations Team can be contact via operations@medaidservices.co.uk.

27Feb 2016

Alcoholic pulled out knife as paramedic tried to treat him

PATIENT John Williamson pulled out a knife as a paramedic tried to treat him on Boxing Day.

The 47-year-old had called an ambulance to his Cobridge home, but abused medical staff that had arrived to help him.

Magistrates at North Staffordshire Justice Centre heard paramedic Jonathan Blurton had been called out to Williamson’s home around 50 times before the incident on December 26.

Prosecutor Liz Rider said he was ‘loathe to attend without accompaniment because of previous issues’.

She told the court:

Mr Blurton arrived at 11.15pm. He was met by the defendant at the door. He said, ‘Move your ambulance’, and said the neighbours had been giving him grief that ambulances were always in the street.

Read full story: Alcoholic pulled out knife as paramedic tried to treat him

26Feb 2016

Man who punched ambulance drivers avoids jail

A man who forced an ambulance to stop before punching the driver in a road rage attack has avoided jail.

Michael Kearns, himself a former ambulance driver, cut up the vehicle which was transporting an elderly patient to hospital at a roundabout in Chelmsford, Essex, on November 11 2014.

He then forced the ambulance to stop by braking and pulling his Ford Focus in front of it, prosecutor Alex Sutter-Green told Chelmsford Crown Court. Mr Sutter-Green added:

There was a patient in the back of the vehicle. “The defendant got out, opened the door and punched the victim.

The court heard Kearns, 46, of Broomfield, Chelmsford, struck a glancing blow and his victim was not badly hurt.

A paramedic who was also travelling in the ambulance witnessed the attack. Kearns had denied dangerous driving and assault but was found guilty after a trial.

The court heard he had a previous conviction of assault following a similar incident in 2013.

Tom Nicholson Pratt, mitigating, said his client suffered from post-traumatic stress after himself being attacked several times while working as an ambulance driver.

Read full story: Man who punched ambulance drivers avoids jail

19Feb 2016

Are lie-ins bad for you?

A study showed that sleeping more at weekends could raise the risk of diabetes and heart disease. So, should you really get up on a Sunday?

Could your weekend lie-in kill you? asked the Daily Mail last month. It cited a study in last month’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (JCEM) that links sleeping more at weekends with an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease. Since most of us change our sleep schedule depending on whether it’s a work or non-work day, it’s an interesting question. Is lying-in really so dangerous? Researchers say that changing sleep patterns causes social jet lag. Is that even a thing?

Read full story: Are lie-ins bad for you?

19Feb 2016

Is it good to be bored (or will it be the death of you)?

One study implies that boredom make you likelier to die earlier, but another concludes that it spurs creativity …

You’re watching a PowerPoint presentation and it’s slide 10 out of 75. Your boss is present, so you can’t risk a quick game of Football Manager 2016 on your phone. But time is stationary. You feel dejected and trapped. You experience something that the Romans documented on the walls of Pompeii: mind-numbing boredom. And you wonder, is being “bored to death” a real thing?

Read full story: Is it good to be bored (or will it be the death of you)?

19Feb 2016

Sugary drinks tax ‘would stop millions becoming obese’

A 20% tax on sugary drinks in the UK would prevent 3.7 million people becoming obese over the next decade, a report predicts.


Cancer Research UK and the UK Health Forum worked out the likely impact of the tax on eating habits and, ultimately, the nation’s waistlines.

Their report said such a tax would also save the NHS £10m a year by 2025.

The government is considering the measure, but soft drinks companies say other options would be more effective.

People get between 12% and 15% of their energy from sugar, but official recommendations say it should be less than 5%.

The statisticians modeled the impact of the tax and predicted a 16% reduction in the number of cans of pop consumed.

Their figures were then adjusted to account for the food and drink people might turn to instead.

They concluded a tax would lead to people consuming on average 15 fewer calories per day.

While the difference sounds tiny, the model predicts a large impact on waistlines.

Currently, 29% of people are obese and trends suggest that figure will reach 34% in 2025.

Rather than reverse the obesity epidemic, the forecast predicts the tax would lead to obesity rates leveling off at around 29% – preventing 3.7 million people from becoming obese.

Alison Cox, from Cancer Research UK, said: “The ripple effect of a small tax on sugary drinks is enormous.

These numbers make it clear why we need to act now before obesity becomes an even greater problem.

And Jane Landon, from the UK Health Forum, argued:

Countries which have introduced a tax on sugary drinks have not only reduced consumption, they have raised much-needed revenues for public health measures.

The report has come out as the government is preparing its obesity strategy, which is due in the next few weeks.

Read full story: Sugary drinks tax ‘would stop millions becoming obese’

19Feb 2016

New blood test to detect inherited heart conditions

A new blood test could help diagnose people with inherited heart conditions, the British Heart Foundation has said.

Miles Frost died suddenly last year at the age of 31

Miles Frost died suddenly last year at the age of 31

Researchers funded by the charity found that by looking at a specific group of genes they were able to reliably detect underlying problems.

It follows the death of Sir David Frost’s son Miles, who died suddenly from a condition thought to have been inherited from his father.

His family aims to raise £1.5m to make genetic testing available in the UK.

The eldest son of the late presenter and broadcaster died last year, aged 31, when he was out jogging near his family’s home in Oxfordshire.

He was suffering from an undiagnosed heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

Read fully story: New blood test to detect inherited heart conditions

17Feb 2016

‘Shocking’ sugar levels in High Street hot drinks, warns charity

There are “shocking” amounts of sugar in some hot drinks sold in High Street cafes, a campaign group has warned.

Action on Sugar analysed 131 hot drinks and found a third contained at least as much sugar as a can of Pepsi or Coca-Cola, which contains nine teaspoons.

The charity said in some of the worst cases the drinks contained 20 or more teaspoons of sugar.

Coffee shop chains Starbucks, Costa and Caffe Nero said they were committed to reducing sugar content in their drinks.

The drinks assessed included flavoured coffees such as mochas and lattes, hot fruit drinks and hot chocolates from coffee shops and fast food chains.

The charity found that 98% of the drinks tested would receive a red nutritional value label for high sugar content.

The recommended maximum intake of added sugar per day for those aged 11 and over is about 30g or seven teaspoons, the NHS says.


Starbucks’ venti Grape with Chai, Orange and Cinnamon Hot Mulled Fruit was found to have the highest sugar content of the drinks tested, with 25 teaspoons of sugar per serving, the campaign group said.

Costa’s massimo eat-in Chai Latte was found to contain 20 teaspoons of sugar and Starbucks’ venti White Chocolate Mocha with Whipped Cream was found to have 18.

KFC’s mocha and Starbucks’ Signature Hot Chocolate both had 15 teaspoons of sugar per serving while Caffe Nero’s drink-in Caramelatte had 13.

The group’s researcher Kawther Hashem called on coffee shop chains to reduce the amount of sugar in their drinks, improve their labelling and scrap extra-large serving sizes.

These hot flavoured drinks should be an occasional treat, not an everyday drink,” she said.

They are laden with an unbelievable amount of sugar and calories and are often accompanied by a high sugar and fat snack.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme she was “surprised” by the results, and said the campaign group had tested only the larger portion sizes on offer.

Read full story: ‘Shocking’ sugar levels in High Street hot drinks, warns charity