Into the woods: how walks are improving mental health

A trailblazing approach to mental health by Forestry Commission Scotland and local health boards is seeing service users go on activity-filled woodland walks

For Guardian Healthcare Professionals Network I have covered Branching Out, a programme run by Forestry Commission Scotland that uses the theraputic powers of woodland to help groups of mental health patients. Since it was launched in Glasgow in 2007, it has spread to most of the NHS boards in Scotland. Continue reading “Into the woods: how walks are improving mental health”

Cambridge’s eHospital problems and Scotland’s IT projects

ComputerWeekly.com has published my article on Cambridge University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust’s problems bringing in eHospital, a £200m IT system based around software from Epic and hardware from HP. While the trust initially reported all was going well, eHospital has recently been fingered by Monitor and the Care Quality Commission as contributing to the trust’s problems.

I spoke to a number of people with knowledge of eHospital, including this former IT employee of the trust who spoke on condition of anonymity: Continue reading “Cambridge’s eHospital problems and Scotland’s IT projects”

Glasgow’s excess mortality: blame deprivation and housing?

Guardian Healthcare Professionals Network has just published an article by me on cities, health and data. This gave me the chance to revisit what has been a puzzle: what is the cause of Glasgow’s excess mortality, which sees men there dying nearly a decade earlier than in the longest-living urban area in the UK (Kensington and Chelsea)?

The Glasgow Centre for Population Health has been working to find answers, and it has a couple, provisionally. Firstly, it thinks that Glasgow’s deprivation is deeper than the data – which tends to measure whether people are below a threshhold (and therefore qualify for a benefit) – suggests. Secondly, it believes that Glasgow had a particularly bad legacy of poor post-war housing, such as the Red Road tower-blocks that the city attempted to demolish at the weekend.  There are other factors too. Continue reading “Glasgow’s excess mortality: blame deprivation and housing?”

Cameron, the EU and Scotland and the NHS internet of things

It would be interesting to see all of these topics into a single article, but this is to cover two recent articles. The first, for Beacon, looks at the two big gambles for David Cameron’s government over the next five years: Britain’s place in Europe or Scotland’s place in Britain.

Sex, Lies and the Ballot BoxMy guess is that Mr Cameron is more likely to win than lose on both (in the case of Scotland, through avoiding another referendum) by the time he stands down, but neither are anywhere near a safe bet. Continue reading “Cameron, the EU and Scotland and the NHS internet of things”

SNP march on Westminster may be good for UK IT

Following the SNP’s remarkable general election night, I have taken a close look at its manifesto for The Register. Although the SNP has ended up in opposition in Westminster, it looks likely that some of its proposals may well come about through further devolution to Scotland, particularly the fiscal ones on taxation, grants and the like. Continue reading “SNP march on Westminster may be good for UK IT”