Mary is in her late sixties and lives alone. She has diabetes, angina and hypertension. Her hearing is deteriorating and her mobility is becoming difficult. Everyday normal things are a struggle for Mary.
One day, Mary gets a knock on the door. She opens the door and finds a young man called Steven on her doorstep. He’s from her local GP practice and knows her doctor. He wonders if Mary is free to have a general chit-chat about how she’s getting on. Mary smiles and invites him into her home. They make their way to her kitchen and she puts on the kettle.
It was the same every year. I was a GP in partnership in a rural practice, and practices are not just ways of delivering healthcare. They are businesses too.
Once a year our accountant would come and have a sandwich lunch or supper with us, and go through the annual accounts. He, or occasionally she, was totally professional, totally expert, and went through the highs and lows, the ups and downs, in great detail. At the end he, or she, would ask if we had any questions. Typically my partners, who were a great deal more numerate – or interested – than I would ask something searching. And then we would thank the accountant and make our way home.
There’s a lot of hype around artificial intelligence (AI). The discussions swing between AI killing off cancer to AI killing us via autonomous robots. These technologies are not science fiction, they are here now – in retail, finance, those recommendations you get on Amazon and Netflix.
There is no single definition of AI, nor what we mean by ‘intelligence’. Broadly, AI can be used to describe a set of advanced technologies that enable machines to carry out highly complex tasks effectively – tasks that require the equivalent of or more than the intelligence of a person performing the task. AI is enabled by three components - computational processing power, algorithms, and data.
If “sugar is the tobacco of the new millennium” and “sitting is the new smoking” then what needs to change?
Is it individuals, their habits and the choices they make? Or is it in fact their environments, the places where they live, work and socialise, that will determine whether or not they will live long healthy lives?
Incivility between healthcare professionals is damaging. Rudeness impacts on the recipient in ways far greater than making them upset. It disrupts their ability to think, to work in a team and it impacts on their willingness to help others, it even impacts on the people they care for.
What do we mean by incivility? It is the low-level rudeness, the sneer, the lack of a hello or a smile unreturned. It is someone sighing when someone else speaks or worst shuts them down. It is the sharp tone and the humiliating words.
Why is behavioural science important in health? The operating manual for a healthy human mind and body is not a simple one. Successful maintenance requires us to make decisions based on uncertain futures, confront fear and embarrassment, and stick to habits often at odds with modern life.
The health and care system too makes cognitively complex demands of those who work in it: tired physicians have to diagnose and treat just as well as fresh ones; CCGs must overcome interpersonal dynamics to reach consensus; and managers must determine how to use limited resources when life and death hangs in the balance.
‘In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to their level of incompetence’.
It was in the late 1960s that Laurence J. Peter introduced us to the Peter Principle in his book ‘The Peter Principle: Why things always go wrong’. His view - people are promoted based on performance in their current role. They eventually rise to a point where they are hopelessly out of their depth.
What “something” are our communities missing which would draw people of all ages together and create a societal shift towards civic mindfulness, wellness and productivity?
In October 2017, The Age of No Retirement set about trying to answer this question. With funding from Innovate UK, and in collaboration with a range of partners including Peabody Trust, we conducted a 6-month design-led project in the London borough of Islington.
What is lobbying? According to the UK Parliament, “lobbying is when an individual or a group tries to persuade someone in Parliament to support a particular policy or campaign”.
Anyone can lobby the UK government, as an individual, small group or as part of a profit-making organisation. Lobbying in the UK is a £2 billion business, making it the third largest worldwide after the US and Brussels.
Most people will have heard about the fossil fuel and tobacco sectors trying, and succeeding to, influence policy through lobbying, but what does it mean for the health sector?
Social challenges are as tough and engrained as ever. With the increasing strain on health and care services, the mantra ‘more for less’ has become deafening and, on occasion, paralysing. In this intimidating context it remains just as important but altogether harder to ask the important question, how can we help change the way our society works to better serve the most disadvantaged?