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Health Insight August 2002: Health in the news

  Britain’s worst ever outbreak of legionnaire’s disease was in the news almost every day last month. Just as it seemed to be on the wane, a woman who had had hospital treatment for the disease and been discharged collapsed and died, thus re-igniting concerns (see ‘Legionnaires’ disease hits Britain’).

A consultation paper on tackling infectious diseases, published in January, had the interesting title, ‘Getting Ahead of the Curve’. Had its suggestions been implemented before the legionnaire’s outbreak, things might have been dealt with somewhat differently (see ‘Infectious diseases: battle lines drawn’).

A lot of fuss was made at the end of last month about the government seemingly buying the wrong smallpox vaccine. All seems well now though, thanks to the wise words of the US’s chief smallpox adviser (see ‘UK government defends smallpox vaccine decision’).

It seems that patients were more convinced than NHS managers and clinicians about the pilot schemes to have operations abroad, in order to cut waiting lists. As a huge amount of money is being spent to fund proposed day surgery operations we may not see any more people struggling onto Eurostar with their baggage (see ‘Overseas treatment fails to impress’ and ‘Big boost for day surgery’).

Unless you watch motor racing you may not be seeing tobacco advertising after the end of 2002. The huge amount of money spent on trying to help people give up smoking seems to be bearing fruit too (see ‘Tobacco advertising ban nearly there’).

The strangest story of the month had to be the resignation of the chairman of the council of the Royal College of Nursing. She was accused of making a racist remark, following a slip of the tongue when she referred to absent council members as ‘being like the Ten Little Niggers’. Unfortunately for her, not everyone reads Agatha Christie (see ‘More problems at the Royal College of Nursing’).


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