NHS Choices: Behind the Headlines
March 22, 2010 1:28 PM   Subscribe

The NHS Behind the Headlines site gives the scientific facts behind the medical stories making the news.
posted by chorltonmeateater (24 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Pfft, who's gonna believe those socialists?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 1:31 PM on March 22, 2010

or perhaps more importantly: standardized clinical directives for all NHS clinicians.

National Institute for Clinical Excellence

The existence of this single agency assures scientific accountability in a way that the individual private medical feifdoms of the United States never can.
posted by dongolier at 1:34 PM on March 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

[thanks to the massively murderous Dr Harold Shipman]
posted by dongolier at 1:35 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Both those sites are fantastic. In the US it seems like the kind of information in that second linke is primarily available from drug companies, which I have an instinctive distrust for.
posted by immlass at 2:34 PM on March 22, 2010

So, someone reads a study, then reports what the study actually said? Without misrepresenting the results and drawing wildly speculative conclusions? What a novel idea!
posted by lexicakes at 2:54 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

NHS behind the headlines are absolutely invaluable given the huge amount of crap British papers publish on health issues. I have their feed on my RSS reader, so I can see which medical news stories aren't complete bollocks.
posted by Flitcraft at 3:39 PM on March 22, 2010

I didnt mean to be so hard on the US system a few comments up... NIH is nice little lab.

however the cruel irony: in 2008 the UK spend $150 billion on the NHS (incl. NICE) and zero on medical research; the same year the US spent $800 billion on Medicare+caid and $30 billion on NIH (much of this research is enjoyed by the NHS, esp. NICE), yet somehow in the US the poor are left to die in the streets like dogs, while in the UK the poor are simply treated.

2008 per capita spent: NHS $2500, Medicare+caid $2700.

You dont have to be a Teabagger to wonder where all that money goes....

A little more clinical oversight would go a long way in the US
posted by dongolier at 4:14 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

I haven't tried this, but there's a Behind The Headlines Toolbar which claims to check the page you're viewing for keywords and, if it recognises a news story, automatically show you the relevant BtH page for comparison. It sounds like a brilliant idea if it works well.

dongolier - ...and zero on medical research...
Er, really? I find that a little hard to believe. While industry and charities fund a lot of research (Cancer Research UK, for example, runs or contributes to a huge number of very good research labs), that only accounts for a fraction of the work that gets done. Several (most?) of the big research councils that fund academic research in the UK get their money from the government. Also, the NHS itself (or at least a trust with NHS in the name) funds some research with the stated aim of finding more efficient treatments and/or generating some profit to plough back into the NHS' funding.

I'm 100% with you on the relative efficiency of the NHS, though. It's hardly a shocker that an organisation with the stated aim of "provide the best treatment we can afford" gives better value for money than barely-regulated companies with the stated aim of "make as much profit as we can squeeze out". I hadn't seen any easily digestible figures though; what's your source?
posted by metaBugs at 4:35 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

The secret of keeping fit is to “do less exercise”, says the Daily Express. The newspaper claims that new research shows that short bursts of intense activity are enough to keep most people fit, “blowing away the myth that staying in shape takes hours of dedication”.

The news is based on a small study in seven healthy men, before and after a two-week programme of short cycling sessions.

This kind of research drives me crazy. They study seven, healthy, young men for two weeks and then the results are trumpeted as applicable to all body types, under all conditions, leading to a broad range of people-- for example older, unhealthy women-- getting the idea that they need to exercise less. Why walk for half an hour? Walk for two minutes and then put your feet up!
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:51 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

the Medical Research Council spent a paltry $1.2 billion in 2008 from Parliament's Dept of Business, Innovation and Skills (which sounds more like making smart people employed than cancer patients well). Is there other public money available? I dont know of any.
posted by dongolier at 4:54 PM on March 22, 2010

metaBugs: mostly wikipedia sources (imprecise to be sure). Medicaid, Medicare, NHS, NIH, and of course my wife who founded a (non-clinical) managament consulting firm with public and private health service clients in the UK. We would have moved to the States if Obamacare had gotten off the ground.
posted by dongolier at 5:11 PM on March 22, 2010

dongolier: What nonsense. Beyond the MRC, there's also Cancer Research UK (£300m) and the Wellcome Trust (£600m), along with the other bodies Metabugs mentioned. By any measure, the UK 'punches above its weight' when it comes to research outcomes. Yes, we manage to fund research *and* healthcare.
posted by adrianhon at 5:28 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

According to this page, UK charities contribute about £1 billion to medical research every year, which represents a third of all spending. That would bring total spending to around £3 billion, or around $5 billion; which, at a sixth of the US' spending, is not far off what you'd expect. The UK also has a couple of pharmaceutical companies you may have heard of: GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca, who both spend a fair chunk of change on R&D.

So while we're all grateful for the US's NIH spending, it's not as if the rest of the world isn't doing its own research either.
posted by adrianhon at 5:39 PM on March 22, 2010 [3 favorites]

The BBSRC also fund non-clinical health and applied bioscience research to the tune of £450 million, although that covers mol biol, bioinformatics & agriculture, plus blue skies biology.
posted by cromagnon at 6:40 PM on March 22, 2010

You would think that NICE guidelines would be automatically observed in clinical practice, wouldn't you? Well, they're not. If it turns out that they are too costly, or if it's a treatment the mouthbreathers at the Daily Mail can't get behind (surgery for the fat, over my dead body!) PCTS can avoid implementing them.

That minor gripe aside andrianhon is spot on, the UK punches well above it's weight in research terms but what I've noticed is they are very poor at PR, from individual researchers to incredible organisations like the Wellcome Trust there's a diffidence about blowing one's own trumpet that infects every level with a few exceptions.

In my own small field I found a gender bias also, female surgical trainees in our School significantly and persistetnly undersold their research using minimising modifiers like "it was just a little study of" " Yes, it was presented at a small conference" in that last example it took us 10 more minutes to discover it was at an international conference and was a very significant piece of research. In 2010 ferchissakes??? I honestly was gobsmacked. I really thought most of the women who succeed in getting into surgery had to be more authoritative but even the guys showed evidence of being slightly embarrassed to do a bit more PR. By comparison when talking informally US surgeons I find the exact opposite, a almost overwhlming need to let you know how great they are. Different systems of education clearly.
posted by Wilder at 3:52 AM on March 23, 2010

wilder: andrianhon is spot on, the UK punches well above it's weight in research terms

You both are adding in private money. Wellcome Trust ($900mil in '08) is a private fund to research infectious disease. Cancer UK ($450mil in '08) draws money from a wide variety of non-taxpayer sources. GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca do alot of research but most of it is not published.

To add in these non-government agencies one would have to also count in Howard Hughes ($450mil in '08) and Robert Johnson Wood ($400mil in '08).

If R&D cash should be added in: has humankind recouped its $3 billion Viagra R&D investment in erections yet?

Keeping corporate money out of it (and leaving out non-med NSF and non-med BBSRC):

2008 public+private research per capita: $1000 in the US, $45 in the UK.

The US government is committed to medical research. The UK government is committed to healthcare. Its that simple.
posted by dongolier at 7:25 AM on March 23, 2010

typo correction: $100 in the US, $45 in the UK
posted by dongolier at 7:27 AM on March 23, 2010

dongolier...........can you please provide a link to your Medicare/Medicaid per capita source? I found the UK one by googling, but identical google search on Medicare plus a ton of alternatives yields nothing but per capita spending BY THE INDIVIDUAL, not by the government. I'd like a source for a debate I'm having with a friend.
posted by spicynuts at 12:45 PM on March 23, 2010

spicynutz: According to Obama's projected estimates (scroll to end) 2008: Medicare was $421billion, Medicaid was $223billion (the states must match funds to get them so double this amount). The US population was 307 million. so...

I get $2800 per capita Medicare+caid in 2008.
posted by dongolier at 2:10 PM on March 23, 2010

p.171 of this 8Meg PDF at the Global Forum for Health Research tallies "2006 Health Reasearch and Development as a Fraction of GDP" (their target is 3%, which Obama has signed on for). The top countries in order were:

Israel 4.5%
Sweden 3.7%
Finland 3.5%
Japan 3.4%
Korea 3.2%
US 2.7%
Germany, Austria, Denmark 2.5%
France 2.1%
Austrailia 2.0%
Canada, Belgium 1.9%
UK 1.8%
Netherland, Luxembourg 1.7%
Czech, Slovenia 1.6%
Ireland 1.3%
Spain 1.2%

(there are lots of other neat tables and graphs too)
posted by dongolier at 7:31 AM on March 24, 2010

spicynutz: According to Obama's projected estimates (scroll to end) 2008: Medicare was $421billion, Medicaid was $223billion (the states must match funds to get them so double this amount). The US population was 307 million. so...

I get $2800 per capita Medicare+caid in 2008.

But not all 307 million are eligible for Medicare/Medicaid or pay taxes. I guess I'm missing your intent with this figure. Are you illustrating that per citizen, if you divided up the federal expenditure, every person regardless of eligibility has 2800 spent on them? Or are you trying to say that the govt spends 2800 on every eligible Medicare recipient?
posted by spicynuts at 7:48 AM on March 24, 2010

Sorry..federal AND state expenditure.
posted by spicynuts at 7:49 AM on March 24, 2010

Americans should be demanding Universal Healthcare for no more and no less than what is already spent on Medicare-caid ($2800/citizen/yr). This proposition is totally feasible; the NHS has similar per capita costs $2500/citizen/yr---dont raise taxes, simply replace Medicare+caid with the NHS. The NHS "post-war experiment" has demonstrated that clinical governance and accountability SAVES LIVES and SAVES MONEY!
posted by dongolier at 10:29 AM on March 24, 2010

dongolier: Insteresting, thanks.
posted by metaBugs at 6:19 AM on March 25, 2010

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