Do you love anyone enough to give them your last Rolo?

A 1980s cult advertising campaign posed sharing your tube of cheap caramels as an existential crisis. A 21st century version of the dilemma involves higher stakes. Would you offer one of your kidneys to a member of your family? To a friend? To a stranger? The first successful living donor kidney transplant was performed in…
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Happy Christmas Two Loo!

We've asked for ours to arrive in avocado green All here at the NASGP would like to wish all our members past and present a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. As is now tradition, we've dispensed with Christmas cards and instead purchased something a little more practical from one of our favourite…
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Synaesthesia – a multisensory experience

  I first met Jane Mackay when she had just returned to London after two years as a volunteer teaching paramedics in Papua New Guinea. Later, when I was a mature medical student, I was able to spend a couple of weeks at her practice in Walworth, one of London’s roughest areas, and her enthusiasm…
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BMA issues further guidance on death-in-service

The BMA have been beavering away trying to demystify the Death-in-Service benefit issue relating to locum GPs (see our article from last month) and has come up with this useful information, available from the BMA website. Meanwhile, the NHS Superannuation people state in their July newsletter: A NHS GP Locum who is in active pensionable…
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How would you cut the NHS budget?

The NHS budget is going to be cut. Recently the Today programme asked for money-saving ideas. Here are some suggestions. Remember that health is a not a commodity and keep the market out of it. Professor Michael Sandel made the argument elegantly in the 2009 Reith lectures. Do not let direct advertising of prescription medication…
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BMA letting salaried GPs down

Salaried GPs really need to see both sides of the BMA coin. On the one hand, the BMA, through its General Practitioner's Committee (GPC), has an active Sessional GP Subcommittee; produces an excellent Salaried GP Handbook; has a veritable army of industrial relations officers and has the fair representation of salaried GPs enshrined as part…
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An Imperfect Offering

In 1999 James Orbinski went to Oslo to receive the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of Médecins Sans Frontières. Born in Britain and brought up in Canada, it was at medical school that he found a focus for his nascent humanitarianism. And immunology captured his interest. Immunology led him to HIV, and HIV – this…
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Is there such a thing as informed consent?

A patient and a doctor lying hand in hand on the operating table. That was what came to my mind as I browsed ‘Consent: patients and doctors making decisions together’, the GMC’s new guidance. Consent, it rightly says, is a process, and obtaining it is a partnership. But ultimately the dialogue has to come to…
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Climate change can seriously damage your health

Almost a third of those who responded to a recent BMJ poll thought that climate change is not a matter for doctors.  Had the doubters been at the Royal College of Physicians’ conference on climate change in January, they could not have escaped the impact it will have on health. Global warming is creating an…
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The spirit catches you and you fall down

During its war in Vietnam, the USA fought a secret action against the communists in Laos. The CIA recruited the aid of the Hmong, one of Indochina’s hill tribes with little love for the Pathet Lao. Their participation cost the Hmong their lands and livelihoods, and many took advantage of American promises of reward in…
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Reading for pleasure and profit

In 1989, Iona Heath, an inner city GP in London, applied for study leave to spend three months reading novels. The Department of Postgraduate Education turned her down, but she took the three months off anyway and says it changed her life.  The experiences of characters in fiction resonate with  our own experiences, and those…
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Paradise Hospital, Vanuatu

I am on a one year placement with Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) here in Vanuatu, in South Pacific, 2000 km east of Australia between the Solomon Islands and Fiji. The country consists of 80 islands, 68 of which are uninhabited. The population is less than 200,000, consisting of mainly Melanesians with a few Polynesians. The…
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