Monday, August 13, 2007

Some Brits need to win the lottery to get their knees fixed

Being in pain doesn't count, of course. The NHS was supposed to eliminate the gap between rich and poor but after nearly 60 years the gap is still a chasm. The poor are still reduced to the role of charity supplicants

For the lottery multi-millionaire, it must be a difficult choice. Which little luxury should we go for first - the mansion, the limo or the world cruise? But for Tony and Greta Dodd, the decision was a little more prosaic. After recovering from the shock of taking a 2,438,155 pound share in a rollover jackpot, they got straight on the phone to the nearest private hospital to book themselves in for four replacement knees.

The couple, aged 67 and 69 respectively, are both on the NHS waiting list for operations and suffer constant pain. "We're ecstatic," said Mr Dodd, a retired taxi driver. "As soon as it sank in that this money was for real we decided the first thing we want is a new pair of knees each. I've been on the NHS list for six months and up to now I've heard nothing - not even a proposed date for an operation. "Greta has only just gone on the waiting list so we were concerned that she would have even longer to wait. Now we are thrilled to be able to sign a cheque. "We have both been told that our knees are worn out. Mine went first and now Greta's have gone the same way. Walking any distance can be agony."

The couple have booked assessments with an orthopaedic surgeon for next week. A private knee operation costs between 8,000 and 10,000 pounds and even four won't make too much of a hole in their 2.5 million. "The doctors have told us we could have the operation within a few days if we wish but we will probably hold off a week or two because we have got some serious celebrating to do."

The win came after Mr Dodd changed his regular numbers for the first time since he began playing the lottery when it was launched in 1994. He said: "When I went to the newsagent I was a bit flummoxed because I'd lost the form with the numbers filled-in on it. "It meant I had to write a new one and for the life of me I couldn't remember all the numbers - only the first five - so I just picked 49 as the last one at random. "It was the greatest stroke of luck and I still can't think where it came from. I can only say that fate was on my side."

The couple, who live in Wallasey, Merseyside, have never won more than 10 pounds on the weekly draw. Mr Dodd said: "You could have knocked me over with a feather when I realised we had the winning line. When you see that you have crossed off those six numbers it's unreal. It's awe-inspiring."

After her operation Mrs Dodd, 69, who survived breast cancer seven years ago, plans to splash out on a holiday to Las Vegas with her best friend. The couple who have a daughter, Jane, 42, enjoyed breaking the news to her over the phone. Mr Dodd said: "I phoned my daughter and started singing, 'Who wants to be a millionaire...' She told me to stop messing around but when I told her it was for real she was jumping for joy."


Diabetic ethnic minorities lose out in Britain

Patients from ethnic minorities are not only more likely to suffer from diabetes, but also receive lower quality care from the National Health Service (NHS), claims a paper published in the online open access journal, International Journal for Equity in Health.

Michael Soljak, together with colleagues from Imperial College, London, UK, investigated the treatment received in 2002 by 21,343 diabetic patients in three North West London Primary Care Trusts (PCTs): Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham, and Hounslow. The researchers also compared the patients general health, shown by factors such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and diabetes control, to the patients treatment.

General practitioners (GPs) were encouraged to record new patients ethnicity by providing training and support to the practices. Of the diabetic patients in the three PCTs, 70 percent had a valid ethnicity code, obtained through patient questionnaires and entered by practice staff.

The authors found that although diabetes control was worse among the South Asian population, a smaller proportion of South Asians were prescribed insulin. They also found that although the White population studied was older, blood pressure differences between the groups were small, indicating poorer control in non-White ethnic groups.

The poorer quality of care for Asian diabetic patients could be explained by patient factors- such as poor understanding of the disease- or by the standard of care their GPs offered. Institutional racism is unlikely to be a major cause, as many South Asian patients are registered with GPs from their own ethnic group.

"This study highlights the need to capture ethnicity data in clinical trials and in routine care, to specifically investigate the reasons for these ethnic differences. But we don't just need to know more about both the practice and patient factors involved," says Soljak, "there should be more intensive management of diabetes and education about the disease in South Asian patients. The best option would be trials comparing different types of such interventions. Our study also shows that in future these trials can be carried out using routinely collected clinical information".


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