Monday, September 7, 2020

Reading up about COVID-19

 If you use this link, you can find all our reports on COVID-19 and the viral pandemic - .

We've not attempted to cover everything - and there are many stories that we have only provided to our medical audiences or our British health news audiences. But there are still dozens of reports collected here and we have attempted to keep abreast of the science and have frequently been ahead of the mass media in detecting trends.

For instance we spotted that convalescent blood plasma had worked in China at an early stage. We also spotted that the virus was behaving very differently to the flu virus. We hope for a successful vaccine but believe there are many questions to be answered about how a vaccine can be truly long-lasting.

We expect many more surprises to emerge about this unpleasant and intriguing virus.

For instance Reluctant Allergy Sufferer has just broken years of silence to publish a blog of personal experience that raises some new questions and ideas -

Friday, December 23, 2016

Please pause to remember the brave

As we approach Christmas and the New Year it is worth pausing to remember those who have not made it through 2016, simply through doing their duty.

According to the latest analysis, 48 journalists have been killed either while working or because of their work.

These are people who have risked their lives usually so that the world may really know what is going on - in dangerspots or dangerous places.

What we do in this business is safe - much of it from the office and certainly in safe  venues. I once knew a reporter who subjected himself to an eye procedure at the hands of a Russian surgeon. The doctor was using razor blades to cure poor eye-sight - a procedure that is now performed by laser. But in general medical reporters do not put ourselves in danger.

Not so those journalists who report from war zones or seek to expose corrupt and rotten regimes.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 2016 may not have been as dangerous as 2015. It knows of 48 deaths and is investigating at least 27 more that may have been work-related.  26 deaths have been recorded in the war zones of Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Afghanistan, and Somalia. 18 were murdered directly for their reporting.

Among the people we write about - doctors, nurses and other health professionals - there are also many who have put their lives at risk in war zones or in regions devastated by disease. The Syrian conflict has seen the added horror of medical facilities being targeted directly. Others have been caught in the cross fire as they insist on caring for the sick and wounded.

Please pause to remember them.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The real Nobel scandal

Two stories on our desk today prompt an editorial thought about the Nobel Prize.

The latest Nobel Prize for Medicine is due to be announced on October 3. But some of its judges have had to resign over a fast-developing scandal in Sweden, the home of the Nobel Prize.

The scandal centres on Professor Paolo Macchiarini, pioneer of a throat transplants and the use of laboratory engineered tissue. No doubt, unsullied the professor might one day have been a candidate for the prize.

But another name cropped up on the newslist - that of British statistician Professor Richard Peto. Professor Peto was part of the team, quite a junior member, that proved, convincingly, the link between smoking and cancer and the extent of the health problems caused by tobacco.

Just as much as penicillin, this was one of the major medical discoveries of the 20th century. It is difficult to remember its impact - or controversial nature - at a time when smoking was taken for granted and cigarettes were as much a part of life as chocolate.

Yet not one of those involved in the discovery was ever awarded the Nobel Prize. The leading figure in the discovery Sir Richard Doll died in 2005 at the age of 92, unrecognised by the Nobel Prize Committee. His collaborator Sir Austin Bradford Hill died in 1991, also unrecognised.

Sir Richard Peto was not involved in the 1950s work that first established the link - but he was Sir Richard Doll's intellectual heir and as his lifetime achievement award this month, from the European Society for Medical Oncology shows, played a key role in the later work on the link.

Would it be too much to suggest honouring Sir Richard Peto might go some way to recognising the injustice done to his predecessors?

Friday, January 3, 2014

From cannabis to hepatitis - news of the most specialist kind

A new year and we've been chewing over how many specialist news feeds we've provided over the years.

By specialist I mean devoted to a particular area of health and medicine.   By news feed I mean several news items a week - or even daily. And that's not always easy when the topic is very, very specialised. That's a little different from taking a general health news feed and tagging news stories. We do that on our own news pages and we do that for other people.

The most specialist we've ever done? It has to be hepatitis C. Not B or A, just C. We were doing that news feed that at a fascinating time when the new pegylated interferon medicines were just being developed. It was very newsy!

What else?
Via our syndication agreement, we do cancer news for members also have access to sub-categories of cancer news.

We also do haematology for - or rather hematology as the style is American English.

Over the 14 years of our being in existence, the list has included:
  • allergy
  • cancer - three times
  • transplants
  • gastroenterology
  • mental health and psychiatry (at least twice)
  • hepatitis C
  • hematology
  • medical technology.

We even started work on a news feed on medical marijuana at one point. All legitimate. That didn't work out - the flow of news was a little laid back.

The secret of a successful specialist news feed is for us to get right the likely amount of news. We also need to understand exactly what the client wants. Some want all the stories to be very specialist. Others like a broader feed, of interest to their users, with a particular emphasis on their specialist topic. When we get the match right, we get a successful service - one that's useful to users, enhances a web-site and, from our point of view, showcases what we can do.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

200,000 readers

Englemed's daily news now has a readership of at least 200,000. That's because membership of our partners,, has now passed this milestone. Englemed has been providing news to since its beginning.

Here is the announcement: – the UK’s largest and most active online network of
medical professionals – has good cause to celebrate this month as its'
membership has tipped the 200,000 mark.

 The organisation, which has been growing steadily in recent years, now
has a total of 200,006 members, which represents over 80 per cent of all
doctors in the UK[1]., which is rated as the most trusted source of information
for the majority of its members, is used by over 45,000 GMC registered
primary and secondary care doctors every day for information, education
and to collaborate with their peers. An audit conducted in November last
year by media industry experts ABC, confirmed that had
63,332 monthly active registered user accounts in that month.

 It provides a highly effective channel through which pharma and other
healthcare industries and organisations can conduct market research and
engage with doctors on a wide variety of issues to ensure that doctors are
aware of best clinical practice and innovations in healthcare.

 Dr Tim Ringrose, CEO of, said: "This milestone in
membership and activity demonstrates that UK doctors lead the world in
using online professional networks to share knowledge, learn and keep
themselves up to date with innovations in healthcare. This is a great thing
for the NHS, the wider healthcare sector and most importantly for patients
- the networked doctor is a better, safer and more efficient doctor."

 Note to editors: is the largest and most active network of medical
professionals in the UK. has a membership of more than 200,000 doctors, with 97%
saying that the network is their most trusted source of information.  It is
the online resource most frequently used by doctors and provides a variety
of services to support them in making the best decisions for their patients.
These services include forums for discussion, extensive online education
resources and a range of editorial content, including conference highlights. also has an independent market research division –
medeConnect - which conducts online community-based research among
medical professionals world-wide for the pharmaceutical industry and other
healthcare organisations. This research is used to inform educational
campaigns that are run for members.’s
education programmes are sponsored by a range of companies and
organisations including pharmaceutical companies, medical device
companies, charities, hospital providers and public sector groups. was created for doctors, by doctors in 1998.  More than
300 doctors now act as advisers and clinical information contributors.
Credibility and integrity of all published materials is assured thanks to an
experienced editorial team and a code of absolute transparency for all
information published.

   [1] There are 252,607 GMC registered Doctors in the UK, including

Monday, September 10, 2012

European news expands

Networks in Health , for whom we provide news, continues to expand:

10th September 2012

News Release

 Networks in Health extends its international reach via new online physician community partners

Networks in Health - a unique international alliance of online physician networks - has expanded its geographical reach by partnering with three communities in Belgium, Russia and Turkey.

The three communities will add 114,000 new physicians to Networks in Health's existing membership which comprises approximately 1.2 million physicians worldwide.

The new partners for Networks in Health which was set up in 2011 by - the UK's largest and most active network of medical professionals - to enable doctors to collaborate internationally, are:

Belgium: Mediquality - this community has a membership of 37,000 health care professionals. Mediquality also provides on-line media for physicians in Luxemburg and the Netherlands, which operate as BeNeLux.

Russia: iVrach - there are 65,000 doctors signed up to this community in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan. It is growing rapidly and has a particular focus on online education which has not been as accessible to doctors in these countries as it is in other parts of Europe.

Turkey: Doktorsitesi - this is Turkey's primary community with a membership of 12, 000 doctors and 1,200,000 patients. Established in 2004, the organisation is the primary community portal in Turkey and plans to launch a new portal offering more services and enhanced usability in the coming weeks.

Beverly Stainsby, International Account Director for Networks in Health, said: 'We are delighted to welcome these three communities to our network. They will enable us to expand our reach into other key nations.

'By providing a single access point to an international physician audience, the network answers a real need for pharma companies and other healthcare organisations that wish to research and engage with physicians internationally.'

Networks in Health, which started out with a selection of partners in Europe, before expanding to Latin America and Australia, also has close links with physician communities in the US and Asia.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Chronically concerned about words

I let loose on twitter when the bastard word "publically" slipped through a couple of competent hands last night.

This spelling for publicly was first used in the 1920s, according to this dictionary of etymology. And the correct spelling, publicly, dates from the 1560s.

Curiously, another word of this kind is in common use in the health field. That may explain why health writers do not question the use of publically. This is "chronically". I've been uneasy ever since I came across it - surely the correct word should be chronicly? Like publically, it looks ugly on paper. Well chronicly looks no more right than does publically. And it seems chronically was enshrined into UK law in 1970. But search on-line etymology and you will find neither word.

There also appears to be a difference in pronunciation. You would say chronic-uh-ly but you would not say public-uh-ly. So perhaps it's a case of English spelling following the pronunciation, not the grammar.

The dictionary to which I referred suggests the reason is that all adverbs of this kind, except publicly, are spelt with the "-ally" ending. I wonder if this is right. I can think of the word "musically". But it is a different word from publicly. Music is a noun, musical  the adjective and musically the adverb. Public is an adjective as is chronic.

Perhaps the solution is the one I learnt in the days when I wrote bad schoolboy English. Avoid adverbs and use nouns where possible. A patient has a chronic illness rather than being chronically ill. You make a public statement rather than making a statement publicly. You give a plastic smile, you don't smile plastically (the word exists).

As this is the internet it is possible to find a list of all words that supposedly end in "-ically". Here it is. You can see the problem. Most are indeed bastard words - unpleasant and unnecessary. Some derive from adjectives ending in "-ical" - such as analytical and physical - and on the whole they grate on the tongue less than those derived from "-ic" words.

Can anyone produce a good and useful word ending in "-ically" and derived from an "-ic" adjective?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sport and fitness news

Check out our new pages that bring together sport and fitness news:

As the Olympics draws near, many people are thinking about sport. But does it inspire you to get fit or to take part? Writer Tom Hunt brings together ideas from all over the UK.

Friday, June 22, 2012

What's gone wrong with doctors' pension campaign

We headed the last posting here  "let's hear from doctors". On Twitter using the #BMAaction hashtag, you could indeed hear from a number of doctors.

Protesting doctor stays anonymous at the
Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham
But if you toured Britain's hospitals yesterday - as we did - you would have been disappointed, as we were. This was, after all, doctors' first industrial action for nearly 40 years and yet it was nearly invisible. At four major hospitals we found one doctor only declaring backing for the action, wearing the arm-band depicted. That does not mean we do not think most doctors are angry about their pensions - it means that doctors were not organised to express their anger in a meaningful way.

Some doctors have responded that picket lines were not appropriate - as there was no "strike". Well British Medical Association members voted for a strike and the BMA stated that some doctors might be asked to withdraw their labour. Guess what? If the BMA ever changed that strategy, it failed to communicate it.

And there lies the deeper malaise. The communication around the day of action - which was about pensions - was dreadful. And for doctors that's compounded a tough situation. It was the worst of issues for doctors to seek to stand their ground and fight. Some had recognised this - urging the union to concentrate its fire on the government's unpopular NHS reforms.

Instead doctors walked into the political trap set for them. Think about it - instead of fighting for patients they were fighting for their own livelihoods and for pensions which the average man could not even dream of. And not only were they not fighting for patients, they took action which actively denied patients treatment.

As yesterday progressed, the trap closed ever tighter on the BMA, once the organisation representing Britain's most trusted profession. As the government appeared to breathe a sigh of relief that not too many patients were affected, the BMA was left desperately claiming that more patients were affected than the government said. So much for minimising disruption to patients.

So what about the communication and the picket lines? Last week we contacted the BMA expressing concern that we did not appear to be getting many press releases or briefings about the proposed action. Statements were appearing on the BMA web-site - but were not being circulated in the usual way.

At the time we thought it was a technical issue. The BMA had brought in an external agency to distribute it's press releases. It had also shut down its media web-pages for some bizarre reason. These previously allowed us to check what we had received. Now, for all I know, we could be placed on some kind of C-list of "do not send".

By Wednesday morning we had maybe received two press releases over the two weeks running up to this "historic" day of action, both of them statements from BMA chairman Hamish Meldrum.

At about mid-day on Wednesday I emailed the BMA press office asking about picket lines and other events. No reply was received. Clearly we are minor players in their scheme of things. But not only was an individual reply not received, at no point was a briefing circulated to the media setting out plans for the day , how it would work and when press conferences would be held - together with contacts. Maybe we would have been deterred from touring hospitals if we had received that briefing.

As the day progressed, the BMA had to deploy its key activists onto the BBC, whose reporters were clearly, like us, unable to find ordinary doctors. Where were the ordinary doctors? Apparently inside the hospitals trying not to do non-urgent work.

It would not have been just us. Hundreds of local papers and radio stations would have been disappointed. Stories would be based on BMA spokespeople and NHS spokespeople only. Local papers and local TV stations were left without photos or film.

Now it may be the BMA's in-house team was not up to the task of running a major industrial action. Does it not have the reserves to employ outside help?

So, you BMA activists, picket lines are not just about stopping people from strike-breaking. They provide a presence on the ground - especially when you are losing the "air war". And the beauty of staging industrial action is that it allows you to establish picket lines. All you need is a few banners and leaflets. Interestingly my local evening paper today carries not a line about the action. It does however have a photo of a Unison picket line at a local hospital.

More importantly it has been evident for some time that the BMA media strategy has lost its way. When I worked on local papers we had a local press contact on the BMA. We are a new media news organisation. Where is the new media contact?

Worse still, it seems the BMA strategy for the new media is the utterly mistaken one of trying to compete with us - not work with us. Its output of general press releases - aimed not just at the new media but the trade press and the local press - is now frankly pathetic. Instead now its news is funneled straight into its trade paper, the BMA News and onto its own web-site.

Now we may not have a mass media following. But we do write for the mass of doctors who use Not only do they deserve to know what their major union is doing, the BMA itself ought to be using this medium to communicate with doctors - maybe giving itself a chance to win over the many doctors who are not its members.

So where now for the BMA? It holds its annual conference next week. Expect blood on the carpets. In spite of the bravado, doctors cannot be satisfied with the organisation of yesterday's day of action.

If the BMA wants to take on the government, it needs to find better strategies - otherwise it will go the way of Arthur Scargill's National Union of Miners in the 1980s. What about action that has no impact at all on treatment of patients - but maximum impact on the government and on public perception?

And that would be a shame because for generations the BMA has indeed provided a voice for the ordinary doctor.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

#BMAaction - let's hear from doctors

With headlines such as this - or this - the first doctor industrial action in 40 years is turning into a public relations disaster.

If not much happens apart from a bit of placard waving, then it's a failure. If the NHS grounds to a halt - which seems unlikely - then it's a catastrophe.

We'll be reporting during the day as doctors make their case. As we provide news for the major medical social media site,, we will be working to ensure ordinary doctors have a voice.

And when it's all over I promise another posting - maybe setting out what's gone wrong in PR terms.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Stop SOPA and PIPA

Today we support this campaign which seems to be led by Wikipedia. It's not because we don't support effective copyright legislation. It's our lifeblood!

But by all accounts this US legislation seems weighted in favour of big business and will allow the sort of extra-judicial terrorism favoured by those who can afford corporate lawyers. We're not a big business.

We have a recent example - and it's on YouTube. YouTube appear to be using automatic systems to check for copyright infringement. If your video is the same as someone else's you may get a message accusing you of copyright infringement. On our channel is a video about London Fashion Week, which was posted on Women's News UK. It's never had many views and would not harm us if it was taken down.

However when we had a notice warning us we might be infringing the copyright of another business, our hackles rose. We investigated, challenged - and have never had an acknowledgement from YouTube that we have successfully defended our case.

What happened? The video was supplied by a News Agency on behalf of one of the Fashion Week's sponsors. Somewhat naively we posted it in whole - it was quite well made. The same video was supplied to others - and was posted on YouTube by someone else. No coincidence, no problem.

Had we not contested this, YouTube might have taken down our whole channel. We're not a TV station and rely on submitted videos for video content. We think it enhances on-line news and have our own approach and philosophy about using on-line video.

So we say yes to policing copyright, and no to an automatic assumption of guilt, often made by people who do not understand the business.

And, yes, our copyright has been breached in the past. We do monitor for breaches and we do have access to resources to take action in the case of infringement. But in reality, if you quote one of our articles in an on-line forum, we don't have a problem. All we'd like to see is an acknowledgement and a link, either to us or to the newsfeed, such as, to which we supplied!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Check your weight!

Check out our new weight checker widget.

It's courtesy of the US CDC.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Let's Talk About Food

#BAD11 #worldfoodday Sometimes in medical reporting it feels as if that's all we do talk about. Food. It's good for you, bad for you, keeps you alive and kills you all at the same time.

I am proud to be taking part in Blog Action Day OCT 16 2011 Cynics say people end up getting a confused message. Well it's not our job to tell you how to live your life. Your doctor will do that. But if you're reading this you're old enough to make up your mind about certain things.

Our feed on diet and nutrition on this site - just a fraction of the reports we do on the topic - gives a flavour of the choices you can make. In a way the message is straightforward. Too little is bad for you, too much is bad for you. Even too little of some of the things we regard as unhealthy may be bad for you - but don't take my word for that. The experts seem to thing the artificial fats you find in cheap food are universally bad for you.

And if you do eat quite a lot, because you live in a rich country or a cold one, maybe you can help yourself by getting the balance of food right. Lots of vegetables and fruit. We don't often get a report saying this will cause a health problem. Not too much sugary stuff. As for whether you want to take your protein as meat or peanuts - we'll leave that one for you.

Today is World Food Day and Blog Action Day - which has been organised by a number of charities to focus on those who don't get enough food in this world. In the rich world there's so much focus on what foods are bad or apparently poisonous, it's easy to forget thousands suffer from malnutrition - and for these people the food rejected by the wealthy will indeed be healthy.

They've made #BAD11 a celebration. We're allowed to talk about what we enjoy. And that's exactly what Stacey Collins at Womens News UK has done. She's shared, yet again, her passion for chocolate, celebrating that here's something that isn't as bad as once was made out - maybe!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Australia joins Europe

Australia's leading online physician community joins European Alliance

International growth of Networks in Health creates broad geographical physician engagement opportunity

30 June 2011, Oxford: Networks in Health, whose online communities already comprise over 600,000 physicians across Europe, has announced that the leading independent network of medical professionals in Australia has joined the Alliance., which launched less than 12 months ago, has an active membership of over 9,000 physicians - approximately 45 per cent of the entire general practitioner population. Usage of the community is high, and some 40% of members interact with the extensive clinical content, discussion forums, education modules and sponsored resources on a regular basis.

The Australian community, which initially sought to attract GPs, is now rapidly expanding its membership among secondary care physicians from key specialty groups, including oncology and cardiology.

Networks in Health was formed by, the UK's largest online network of medical professionals, in May 2011. It is a unique international alliance of online physician communities which, having established strong affiliations across Europe, is looking to grow by recruiting further communities in key international healthcare markets.

Networks in Health's current partner communities include Egora and LaRevue du Praticien in France, Medcenter in Spainand Portugal, coliquio in Germany, Austria and Switzerland and MedUniverse in Sweden. Further announcements regarding new partners joining the Alliance are likely.

Gareth Thomas, development director of Networks in Health, said: "The launch of this 'network of communities' is answering a real need, especially for organisations wishing to research and engage with physicians internationally. We've been approached by many global pharmaceutical companies and healthcare organisations to talk about the unprecedented access to physicians now offered."

Kamalesh Goswami, Director of Online Solutions of, said: "We are now able to offer clients a single access point to a huge international physician audience. It opens up enormous opportunities, with international communications, marketing, education and research programmes all capable of being managed and measured in a fully integrated way."

Networks in Health is supported by medeConnect, its market research and insight partner, and independent division of community-based research - an approach which allows us to reach a broader cohort of physicians than ever before - medeConnect offers a range of new, digitally-based qualitative and quantitative methodologies for gathering insight from these communities.

Note: Englemed is the news provider for Networks in Health