Arthritis Research UK campaign asks you to ‘Share your Everyday’


This week, Arthritis Research UK has launched their ‘Share your Everyday’ campaign. Running for six weeks across October and November, the charity are encouraging people to get involved by sharing their experiences of living with arthritis. They have created a dedicated sharing space for people with arthritis to not only tell their story, but also learn from others’ experiences.

Last year’s campaign saw hundreds of people share their everyday challenges, demonstrating how arthritis attacks what it means to live; from struggling to board a bus to the effect the weather has on their joints. Arthritis Research UK have since used this insight to guide their research, funding three new research projects focused on breaking through the daily pain that arthritis causes.

This year, the charity is looking for even more people to get involved. The simple act of sharing your everyday experiences can shape the big ideas and little changes that will help to push back the limits of arthritis.

Share your everyday experiences of living with arthritis to help Arthritis Research UK find your everyday freedom. Share your story here.


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October is HEART UK’s National Cholesterol Month and we have made it our mission to raise awareness of the dangers of high cholesterol and to raise money so that we can continue to provide our life-saving work.

We want to make this National Cholesterol Month bigger and better than last year’s by reaching more people and telling them about the dangers of high cholesterol and of course by raising more funds. So do please get involved!

HEART UK is a cholesterol charity which provides support, guidance and education services to healthcare professionals and those with concerns about cholesterol. We strive for the majority of UK adults to understand their cholesterol levels and to take the necessary action to lead a healthy lifestyle.

We are delighted that Dame Judi Dench will be lending her support to our campaign, alongside TV and radio presenter, Gloria Hunniford.

Dame Judi said: “As President of HEART UK, I am delighted to be supporting National Cholesterol Month this October. Just think what a difference we can all make if we get involved and do something amazing to raise funds to help support HEART UK’s vital life-saving work.”

Over half of all UK adults have raised cholesterol and at least 1 in 500 people are born with a high cholesterol condition called Familial Hypercholesterolaemia (FH). Those living with FH are at high risk of a heart attack, stroke or sudden death in their 20s, 30s and 40s.

Keeping active and eating a healthy diet are very important to keep a healthy level of low cholesterol but for people with FH this is still not enough and lifelong medication is usually necessary.

At HEART UK, we provide a cholesterol helpline for anyone looking for free, impartial and friendly advice. This can be anything from knowing your risk of heart disease to learning how to test your cholesterol level. Our helpline is open Monday-Friday: 10:00-15:00 (0345 450 5988).

As well as having a target of raising £50,000, this October we want to encourage people to get involved with our ‘Great Cholesterol Challenge’ – we want to get people moving more and eating better!

This could include participating in our ‘Climb for Heart Health’ or ‘Swim for Heart Health’ challenges that are designed to help improve the health of your heart.

We also have a range of fun ‘virtual challenges’ up for grabs where you can row the English Channel, or do a virtual cycle from London to Amsterdam! These are a great form of competitive fun where you can see who can cover the most miles or raise the most funds.

So throughout October, why not take the stairs rather than the escalator or lift and challenge yourself whilst competing against friends or colleagues to see who can cover the greater distance?

By going the extra mile and walking more each day, you could walk an extra 399 steps – the same distance as going from the bottom to the top of Big Ben!

Chief executive of HEART UK, Jules Payne, said: “With your generous support HEART UK continues its vital work, so please help us continue to make a difference and consider making a donation online .”

And don’t worry – If you’re unable to participate in fundraising, you could always contact your local GP or lipid clinic and host an awareness raising event.

For more information on how you can get involved, please visit:



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Obesity – a big problem but a shared responsibility

Guest Blog by Robin Millar, Acting Chief Executive, 2020health

fatchancethumbnailObesity is a complex issue – like health itself, it affects how we live our daily lives, the environment in which we live and work and how we feel about ourselves. In our 2015) report, “Fat Chance?” we noted that it was upwardly and downwardly mobile sections of society that correlated with obesity – not just the poorer and more deprived areas.

It is also emerging as a defining – and confounding – challenge for 21st century public services. A sickness model of health services struggles to cope when a ‘cure’ actually lies beyond its reach, before services are even involved.

We should not miss either the importance of this moment – or the opportunity that comes from acting now. The question is, does the release of the government’s new strategy mark a different, prevention led approach alongside a more coordinated public service response? Because it is only when we take hold of this bigger picture that we will begin to address the challenge.

obesitythumbnailIn our 2014 report, “Careless Eating Costs Lives” we recommended establishing a permanent cross departmental government task force on obesity to flush out important and diverse perspectives on the problem – economics, social and environmental factors, health implications, media messages, sports and activity, food industry all have an influence. We also recommended that all new policies should be reviewed and assessed against an ‘obesity test’  – asking “how do these policies help to improve the nation’s health?”

The strategy did recommend a phasing in of a “sugar tax” but was otherwise silent on these, as it was largely on advertising and promotion.

However we do see points that are to be welcomed in it and point to a change of approach.

Schools for example, are a key battleground. 1 in 9 children enter primary school obese – too high in itself. But worse, 1 in 5 children leave primary school obese. The hour of exercise a day for primary school children is a good measure: it recognises the success of initiatives such as the Scottish “mile a day” and builds good habits for the future. But exercise is only one part of the puzzle.

In our report we also called for practical cookery skills and food education to be a part of the school curriculum for pupils up to the end of key stage 3 (age 14). The very effective EPODE approach originating from France, demonstrates the value of reconnecting children with the food system and food supply, by helping to instil a better understanding of what it means to live healthily.

However, this kind of consistent and thorough strategy is difficult in the UK educational system with a plethora of interested players. A further challenge for schools is fitting this into an already crowded timetable – “another priority”.

Many are calling for more punitive action – pulling hard on the favoured political levers of tax and legislation. However our empirical evidence shows that simply ‘pushing’ and legislating does not work particularly well. Further action should explore ‘nudging’ in appropriate ways and it is appropriate that more forceful action could be taken if the industry do not respond.

However, we believe that “Making health personal” means an approach that recognises personal responsibility for regulating our consumption – personal responsibility – and then supporting this through state legislation. The new Strategy attempts to strike that balance with a light touch. Taxes in 2018, giving industry a chance to act, will be reviewed in 2020.

With increasing localisation of decision making, there is also an opportunity here for Local Authorities and Health & Wellbeing Boards to work with communities and residents to introduce their own guidance for healthy towns and homes etc. We called for all HWBs to recognise the importance of nutrition and obesity through access to those professional specialisms, and explicit measures/specification in their JSNA to inform effective strategies to tackle obesity.

This might include reviewing licensing for fast food outlets to control the location and numbers of outlets in a local community. Particular on fast food outlets appearing to ‘favour’ spots close to schools. Or ensuring that walk and cycle ways joining communities enable more exercise as part of a daily routine of shopping or work.

In our report we highlighted and called for incentives for those who become active partners in their health by quitting smoking, reducing weight, walking a set number of steps etc. – and increased awareness, coordination and reach of the government’s ‘Healthy Start’ Voucher scheme

By the admission of some businesses, this strategy could have gone further – but it also marks an encouraging shift in approach. It is important we discuss responsibility: government could have done more, certainly. But it’s not just about what government can do, but what we must do for ourselves.

When it comes to our health – and weight – we can have a say in our own outcomes long before we become consumers of health services. This strategy must mark the start of that conversation.

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The challenge remains: healthcare needs reform

Comment by Robin Millar, Acting Chief Executive, 2020health

On a day of changing faces around the Cabinet table, the Prime Minister has retained Jeremy Hunt as Secretary of State for Health – and he has retained the challenge of reforming the NHS.

The pressures on health care have been growing for years. Expectations have grown with excellence in care. Demand for services is increasing and 21st century health challenges such as obesity are emerging before our eyes.

The delivery of health care is creaking. Space is limited, staffing is stretched and funding is tight. Workforce morale is low and recruitment fears have filled the front pages. Scandals over quality will linger long in the public memory. Barely a part of the health care system is untouched by these concerns. The 20th century solutions we have are not the way forward. Innovation is the watchword, transformation plans now cover every part of the country and figures are scrutinised for early signs that Simon Steven’s 5 Year Forward View is being delivered.

But if it was needed, events of recent weeks have framed a further, stark warning for the Secretary of State: what was Brexit if it was not a rejection of an Institution that had become disconnected from voters?

Robin Millar, Acting Chief Executive of 2020health said:
“If adapting the NHS to be fit for the 21st century was easy, it would have been done by now. Brexit is bringing in a new era for government in the UK. Does the new Prime Minister’s promise of “more control over your lives” herald a much needed, long hoped for reform to health care? A different approach that will ensure healthcare of the future is more personal and local?“

Work by 2020Health has highlighted:

• “A Shared Responsibility – Tackling Inequalities in Health Across Greater Manchester” (2015) Good health outcomes from working with people to prevent problems and reduce service demands
• “Personal Health Budgets: a revolution in personalisation” (2013) Healthcare interventions must move beyond industrial, one-size-fits-all models and recognise the lived experience of the individual, ‘making health personal’
• “Going with the Flow” (2014) A need for managed public debate to depoliticise the NHS and involve us all in decision making to ensure we have an NHS for the future.
• “Fat Chance” (2015)

Robin Millar is a Board member of 2020Health and Acting Chief Executive while CEO Julia Manning takes a two month sabbatical.


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Guest Blog by Ali Oliver, Chief Executive, Youth Sport Trust

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With the European football championships underway in France and the Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games on the horizon it is set to be another memorable summer of sporting excitement, and hopefully success. Sport has an incredible ability to unite us and that is never more evident than when major sporting events take place.

This week the Youth Sport Trust aims to create its own memorable sporting moments as National School Sport Week gets underway. Schools across the country will be hosting sporting events and competitions with the aim of encouraging their pupils to be physically active and take part in more sport. There will be moments when young people will demonstrate their own aspirations and have their resilience tested as they strive for their personal best – be that competing against other classmates or trying a new sport for the first time. This year we are encouraging schools to take part in the Sainsbury’s Active Kids Paralympic Challenge which we have developed in partnership with ParalympicsGB. It is a fully inclusive programme that gives young people an introduction to different Paralympic sports.

National School Sport Week is not just about getting children to do more sport during Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 11.23.42the week. It is about putting PE and sport at the heart of our schools and highlighting
that developing physical literacy and an active lifestyle is just as crucial to a child’s education as learning to read and write. It is also about giving a platform for young people to celebrate their sporting achievements, compete or try something new, but most of all it is about encouraging mass participation and fun.

Ultimately, we want young people to make sport and physical activity a consistent
part of their daily life. We know that active children perform better across all areas of school life, have greater social and emotional wellbeing, and are more likely to develop the life skills they need to go on to be successful in the world of work. However, the challenge of getting young people to be physically active is significant. The rise in childhood obesity is no secret and presents significant challenges, whilst caution is needed to ensure the advancement of technology doesn’t lead to a digitally distracted generation that is disengaged from physical activity.

We must give every young person access to high quality PE and sport, and there can be no excuses for not doing so. Evidence shows that when high quality PE and sport is delivered in schools it aids and enhances the learning of pupils across all subjects, can improve school ethos and pupils’ sense of belonging, and raises aspirations for young people to achieve their personal best.

In 2012 a report in the Journal of Sport Sciences stated that a ‘physically active lifestyle during childhood is positively associated with brain and cognitive health. Children who are more aerobically fit have improved brain function, higher academic achievement scores and superior cognitive performance than less fit children’. Similarly, in 2013 the Journal of Physical Activity and Health reported that ‘Engagement in regular physical activity is recognised to contribute a range of positive outcomes, specifically; physical and mental health, social wellbeing, cognitive and academic performance.’

So, National School Sport Week is one moment in the year to celebrate PE and sport, but it can be the start of so much more for young people and can change their lives. And when it comes to the Euro 2016 football championship and Olympic and Paralympic Games?  I, like many others, have my fingers crossed for sporting success. But please, no penalty shoot-outs this year!

In 2020health’s discussion paper Head of Wellbeing: An essential post for secondary schools? one of the key findings was ‘greater engagement of young people in physical activity through a broadening of opportunities’.

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Baby Boomer women and tech – new report

Guest blog by Kathy Mason Associate, 2020health

Elder care with technology appeals most to Baby Boomer women
Two thirds of 55-75 year olds would be interested in using technology to help their parents as they get older. Help with medication, memory, fall detection, instant communication and health metrics such as blood pressure and heart rate were liked, but people questioned were much more wary of tech for dressing, eating and personal care.

In 2020health’s paper out today Health technologies – are older people interested? 700 baby-boomers were asked about their willingness to use innovation in caring for their parents, only when it came to dressing did fewer than half think they wouldn’t want to use it. Fascinatingly, given that so much tech publicity is geared towards men, often women were more likely than men to be happy to use technology.

Julia Manning, Chief Executive of 2020health, which undertook the survey, said: “We are much more accepting of tech solutions to help with daily living and the tech sector needs to realise that women are much more interested in digital solutions than they think. If you pick up a technology magazine, all the advertising is directed at men!”

Despite our familiarity with stair-lifts, only 65 per cent of men said they would consider them for their parents, whereas 76 per cent of women said they would be happy to do so. Despite this, when men were asked which was more dignified, using robotics to help get up stairs or having human help, 60 per cent said the technology solution was more dignified.

Robotic assistance for dressing is being pioneered in Japan, where one in eight people are over the age of 75. Although people were generally more wary of robotic help, women were 20 per cent more interested in using it for their ageing parents, compared with men. In the UK, competitions such as the annual AXA PPP sponsored Health Tech & You Awards, held in April, show that the new assistive technology space is growing rapidly. Innovation such as the GyroGear Steady Glove assists people by counteracting hand tremors; Dermaspray is a devise that sprays precise doses of medication for those with reduced hand movements and, for those with walking difficulties such as in Parkinson’s, ‘Walk with Path’ is an aid simply [to] taking the next step.
“The more access we can get to innovation, new technologies and ingenious solutions, the more we can offer people healthy options using technology,” said Gordon Henderson, Director of Digital & Innovation, AXA PPP healthcare.

The full Discussion Paper Health technologies – are older people interested? is available to download from the 2020health website.

2020health, AXA PPP and the Design Museum are founding partners of the Health tech and You Awards, an annual competition to showcase the best consumer facing, digital health technologies.

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New analysis reassures patients and doctors

Guest Blog by Dr Iseult Roche, Associate, 2020health

New analysis from researchers at University of Manchester have found there is no weekend death effect for NHS emergency patients and that such a view, held by some, has been “a statistical artefact”

The retrospective observational study analysed hospital admissions over a 10-month period of over 12 million A&E attendances and almost five million emergency admissions between April 2013 and February 2014. About 20% of these emergency admissions were referrals via primary care¹.

It was identified that hospitals admit less patients who are less severely ill at weekends. This skews results and inaccurately suggests that mortality rates at weekends appear greater than mid-week.

Professor Matt Sutton said: “Hospitals apply a higher severity threshold when choosing which patients to admit to hospital at weekends – patients with non-serious illnesses are not admitted, so those who are admitted at the weekend are on average sicker than during the week and more likely to die regardless of the quality of care they receive.”

Researcher Rachel Meacock said: “The so-called ‘weekend effect’ is a statistical artefact and extending services will not reduce the number of deaths. In relation to potential extended hours for senior doctors, it is actually possible that this could potentially increase the number of weekend admissions of less severely ill patients which could increase NHS costs.”

This has been welcomed by doctors alike, who have felt that the unnecessary fear of weekend care has frightened patients and doctors in some cases. Doctors and other NHS staff try their best to care for patients and carry out their role to the best of their ability, regardless of days of the week and welcome this reassurance.

The British Medical Association welcomed the research findings, with Dr Mark Porter reported as saying: “This huge and robust study confirms what doctors have been saying all along”.

¹ Higher mortality rates amongst emergency patients admitted to hospital at weekends reflect a lower probability of admission. Journal of Health Services Research and Policy 6 May 2016; doi: 10.1177/1355819616649630 [abstract]
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