How to give well this Christmas: donate to super-efficient charities

Buying Christmas presents is always difficult. Tim Harford had some great advice in the Financial Times – his best tip was to “adopt a passive gift-buyer strategy”, by giving something you know the recipients can use, such as hard cash, along with time and attention.

There is another kind of Christmas giving where it makes sense to combine hard cash, time and attention: charitable donations. I wrote a piece for the Guardian in 2013 about charity evaluators and two British charities that they rated very highly, Against Malaria Foundation (AMF) and Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI). Continue reading “How to give well this Christmas: donate to super-efficient charities”

The many problems with automated decision making

I have written about automated decision making or machine learning for Computer Weekly, in particularly the numerous problems with using it. The biggest set of issues is summed up nicely by Joanna Bryson of Bath and Princeton universities: “The reason machine learning is working so well is it is leveraging human culture. It’s getting the bad with the good.”

Continue reading “The many problems with automated decision making”

Wearable technology in cardiology, epilepsy and diabetes care

Originally published by Guardian Healthcare Professionals Network, 29 March 2017

A six minute walk test is more work than it sounds. It measures a patient’s health by getting them to walk up and down a measured length of corridor wearing a finger sensor that records blood oxygen level and pulse, with two healthcare professionals counting the turns and monitoring the sensor data. Continue reading “Wearable technology in cardiology, epilepsy and diabetes care”

Oxford vaccine test volunteers infected with typhoid

Volunteers in Oxford agreed to infect themselves with typhoid, as part of a recently-completed trial of a vaccination that could save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

The Oxford Vaccine Group, part of University of Oxford, gave 99 volunteers a drink laced with live Salmonella Typhi bacteria a month after vaccinating them. A third had been vaccinated with Typbar-TCV, a new conjugate typhoid vaccine, a third with established vaccine Typhim Vi and the rest with meningitis vaccine Menveo, which does not protect against typhoid. Neither the volunteers nor the doctors carrying out the injections knew who was getting which vaccine. Continue reading “Oxford vaccine test volunteers infected with typhoid”

Central Manchester tames clinical waste with tiger bags

Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has diverted 40% of its clinical waste into a cheaper-to-treat category, by introducing special ‘tiger’ bags.

The distinctive yellow and black striped bags are for clinical waste such as dressings and incontinence pads used by non-infectious patients. Previously all clinical waste had been heat-treated in an autoclave, but this process – which adds £100 per tonne to the cost – is now used only for waste from infectious patients. Amounts going through the more expensive process have fallen from around 130 tonnes in April 2014 to around 60 tonnes in December 2016. Continue reading “Central Manchester tames clinical waste with tiger bags”