241 episodes

Series that demystifies health issues, separating fact from fiction and bringing clarity to conflicting health advice.

Inside Health BBC

    • Health & Fitness
    • 4.0, 1 Rating

Series that demystifies health issues, separating fact from fiction and bringing clarity to conflicting health advice.

    Prescribing Cycling; Temperature Checks; False Positives; Choirs and Covid-19

    Prescribing Cycling; Temperature Checks; False Positives; Choirs and Covid-19

    As the Government announces GPs should start to prescribe cycling Margaret McCartney examines the evidence for exercise referrals with Harry Rutter, Professor of Global Health at the University of Bath. Temperature checks are popping up in bars, restaurants and receptions but do they work or are they giving false reassurance? Plus while the pandemic progresses Professor Carl Heneghan explains another type of false result, that the chance of false positive tests go up. Navjoyt Ladher, Head of Education at the BMJ, talks us through two highly topical terms - specificity and sensitivity. Amateur choirs have been closed due to Covid-19. Margaret talks to Professor Jackie Cassell who is currently researching what aspect of choirs congregating is particularly dangerous and whether the singing is actually a red herring.

    Producer: Erika Wright
    Studio Manager: John Boland

    • 27 min
    Public Health in the time of Coronavirus

    Public Health in the time of Coronavirus

    Public health doctors don't dash around hospitals wearing white coats brandishing stethoscopes. The work of this medical specialty is mainly outside of hospitals and it has a very long history. It has a local, national and global reach, an international skeleton charged with the care of populations. And in this pandemic, it is public health which is doing the heavy lifting.

    In this special edition of Inside Health Dr Margaret McCartney investigates the serious questions being raised about the UK's public health response to trying to stop the spread of the virus, and how tension, over the performance of the government's Test and Trace programme, has spilled out into the open.

    Margaret hears from Directors of Public Health who feel that their role and expertise in local communities working closely with local Public Health England teams has been overlooked. Instead a new national Test and Trace system has been set up using private companies outside the traditional public health infrastructure. The DPH for Wigan and lead director of public health for the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Professor Kate Ardern, tells Margaret she believes government didn't understand the role and the experience of local public health teams and so instead of empowering them to oversee test, trace and isolate services, set up a new national system, from scratch, using private companies without public health experience. And the data needed locally to identify and deal with Covid cases, she tells Margaret, just hasn't come through. This is despite the fact that the law is clear; Covid is a notifiable disease and local directors of public health should receive the information.

    Margaret explores the history of public health with Professor Martin Gorsky from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and hears from Professor of Global Health at Queen Mary, University of London, David McCoy, who believes the very structure of public health institutions after the 2012 Health and Social Care fragmented the service, leaving the country vulnerable (as he and 400 other experts warned at the time) to a pandemic.

    Public Health England's Medical Director, Professor Yvonne Doyle, rejects suggestions that PHE is insufficiently independent from government and insists that both national and local public health teams have pulled together in these unprecedented times.

    Producer: Fiona Hill

    • 28 min
    Covid-19 and ethnicity in medicine; medical devices safety review

    Covid-19 and ethnicity in medicine; medical devices safety review

    One of the most striking features of the coronavirus pandemic is the disproportionate toll it’s taken on some groups in society. Research by the Office for National Statistics shows black people are nearly twice as likely to have died from coronavirus than white people. And you see a similar pattern of elevated risk in other ethnicities too. Why is this? And to what extent is Covid 19 shedding light on approaches being taken in medicine more generally when assessing and treating people from Black, Asian and Minority ethnic groups?

    We hear from GP Dr Navjoyt Ladher who’s been navigating the language of race for the British Medical Journal; Dr Rohin Francis, cardiologist and host of the Medlife Crisis podcast, and Prof Kamlish Khunti who’s establishing a detailed Covid risk score to establish exactly who’s at most risk of infection.

    A major review has found women’s lives have been ruined and babies have been harmed in the womb and yet concerns were dismissed for years as simply “women’s problems”. Those are the findings of the Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review. It looked at the hormonal pregnancy test Primodos, the epilepsy drug sodium valproate and vaginal mesh implants which are used to treat prolapse and incontinence. Inside Health’s resident GP Margaret McCartney. discusses what needs to change.

    Presenter: James Gallagher
    Producer: Adrian Washbourne

    • 27 min
    Covid-19 and the Impact on UK Cancer Services

    Covid-19 and the Impact on UK Cancer Services

    Coronavirus has turned the NHS upside down and inside out and by re-organising to treat people with the virus, other potentially fatal diseases like cancer have taken a backseat. At University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, which Inside Health visited weekly as the pandemic unfolded, cancer diagnoses fell by half in March and April and of the 50% who were asked to come in for follow up, only 25% actually did. The virus was more frightening than a potential cancer diagnosis. Divisional Director for Medicine at Southampton, Dr Trevor Smith, tells James Gallagher, the BBC's health and science correspondent. that patients are coming back, but it will take a long time to tackle the backlog.

    For those with cancer caught up in the pandemic, they have experienced disruption, cancellations, altered treatments and they have had to cope with consultations and even surgery by themselves, without loved ones to support them. Charly from Wiltshire was diagnosed with breast cancer in February and her treatment was changed as lockdown happened. Instead of chemotherapy then surgery, she had surgery first. And a mastectomy instead of a lumpectomy. But despite the disruption to her care, she still considers herself one of the lucky ones because she did get treatment.

    Others weren't so lucky and across the country, lives have been lost. The focus now is on Covid-proofing cancer care and tackling the backlog in screening, diagnosis and treatment. And it's an enormous backlog.

    Professor Charlie Swanton, chief clinician of Cancer Research UK tells James Gallagher, the BBC's health and science correspondent, that 2.7 million people have missed out on cervical, breast and colorectal screening and 300,000 fewer people than normal have been referred under the urgent 2 week cancer pathway. The creation of Covid-free cancer hubs, he says, safe zones for cancer treatment, are vital, but it will still take a long time to recover and of course there's the spectre of a second wave of coronavirus which would disrupt services all over again.

    Confidence building includes rapid Covid-19 testing for staff and Dr Trevor Smith from Southampton tells James about the saliva test pilot for key workers in the city. The new test just involves putting saliva in a sample pot, much easier than the normal "have you got it" swab test which involves wiping the back of the throat and deep inside the nose. Dr Navjoyt Ladher, GP and Head of Education at the British Medical Journal gives a simple guide to the "have you got it" tests: PCR, antigen and perhaps if the trial is a success, the new saliva test as well as the "have you had it tests"; the antibody tests.

    And finally in the week that in England at least, guidance for those who are "clinically vulnerable" and shielding on the advice of the government changes, Inside Health's Dr Margaret McCartney reviews the new advice for those in all four nations of the UK.

    Producer: Fiona Hill

    • 27 min
    Shielding; Pandemic Lexicon; Southampton Hospital; Doctor rejects NHS Superhero Tag

    Shielding; Pandemic Lexicon; Southampton Hospital; Doctor rejects NHS Superhero Tag

    Tanya has rheumatoid arthritis, a compromised immune system and heart problems. Getting the virus is a risk she cannot take and this is the tenth week that she's been isolating at home with her husband and teenage daughter. But how long will this last and will she have to self isolate in her own home away from her family for the foreseeable future, if her daughter goes back to school? Tanya talks to Claudia about the impact of the pandemic on her life and says why those in the shielding group must not be forgotten.

    The arrival of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in the human population has popularised vocabulary that was previously the preserve of scientists and medics. In just a matter of weeks, phrases like the R Number, Herd Immunity, Case Fatality Rate and All Cause Mortality have become part of everyday language. A new pandemic lexicon has emerged. Inside Health regular Dr Margaret McCartney and Professor Carl Heneghan, Director of the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine at the University of Oxford, discuss the meanings of these very precise descriptions and reveal their personal bugbears, the misuse of such terms.

    And in her final visit for this series to University Hospital Southampton, Inside Health's Erika Wright, talks again to Trevor Smith, Divisional Director for Medicine, about the enormous challenges ahead as the hospital adapts to living with Covid-19. And she talks about the Banksy art work currently hanging at the hospital which reveals a Super Nurse displacing the traditional comic book superheroes, Batman and Spiderman.

    Healthcare workers have been lionised as heroes, putting themselves on the front line, risking their own lives, to save others. It's a sentiment which troubles some. Dr Michael FitzPatrick, a gastroenterologist in Oxford and Co-chair of the Royal College of Physicians Trainees Committee, describes why heroes are almost entirely the wrong comparators for healthcare workers.


    Producer: Fiona Hill

    Clips used in programme:

    Batman theme by Danny Elfman (composer) from Batman (1989) Copyright Warner Bros.
    Avengers Theme by Alan Sivestri (composer) from The Avengers copyright Disney
    Clip from Infinity War , Joe Russo, Anthony Russo (Directors) Copyright Disney
    Clip from Justice League by Zac Snyder and Joss Whedon (Directors) Copyright Warner Bros
    Clip from Iron Man by Jon Favreau (director) copyright Disney
    Clip from Avengers Endgame by Joe Russo, Anthony Russo (directors). Copyright Disney

    • 27 min
    Longest Stay Covid-19 Patient; Health Inequalities; Agoraphobia; Covid-19 Testing

    Longest Stay Covid-19 Patient; Health Inequalities; Agoraphobia; Covid-19 Testing

    Claudia Hammond on the longest known stay for a Briton with COVID-19 in intensive care. A month ago Respiratory Physiotherapist Gemma Bartlett at University Hospital Southampton highlighted the case to Inside Health. At that stage the patient was at day 28: now Erika Wright catches up with Gemma again for a good news update on the patient who is at a staggering 58 days on a ventilator and has been speaking for 3 weeks. There are many unknowns about COVID-19 but one aspect that is not disputed is how the virus has laid bare pre-existing health inequalities. It does not effect us all in the same way and those with underlying health conditions such as heart disease, obesity and diabetes are at a higher risk of poorer outcomes if they get the virus. Linda Bauld from Edinburgh University and Chair in Behavioural Research at Cancer Research UK says this is the time to reset the health inequalities clock. And Laura Bartley, who began having severe symptoms of agoraphobia five years ago, explains her experience of lockdown. Plus resident sceptic GP Margaret McCartney explains her concerns about the current Covid-19 testing strategy.

    • 28 min

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