HCA Hospital Group has five private London hospitals, of which the Harley Street Clinic, based at 81 Harley Street, has the most advanced treatment technology found in the United Kingdom. This was the first hospital to employ the cutting edge CyberKnife robotic radiotherapy system, which tackles tumours often previously considered difficult or impossible to treat and makes chemotherapy and invasive surgery redundant. A handful of such machines will be installed at NHS hospitals within the next few years.
CyberKnife uses a tracking system which allows the delivery of radiation with an accuracy of less than a millimetre, and shoots more than a hundred beams of radiation at tumours. The accuracy allows considerably higher doses of radiation to be used. The system adjusts to movements of the patient due to breathing, allowing the treatment of tumours formerly considered inoperable due to their proximity to major blood vessels. It cannot, however, compensate for movement caused by coughing. Conventional radiotherapy requires twenty or more sessions, while CyberKnife needs as few as three.
The first Briton to benefit from CyberKnife was Robert Ferrant, who had been given only months to live after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, a condition suffered by around 7,600 Britons a year that led to the death of <em>Dirty Dancing</em> star, Patrick Swayze. His tumour was wrapped around an artery and had been deemed inoperable. Three gold seeds were inserted to Ferrant’s tumour to guide the laser. He was awake during therapy and said the experience was painless. Other treatments could have extended his life by around three months, but CyberKnife offers the prospect of a cure.
CyberKnife is unsuitable for the treatment of bladder, bowel, stomach and oesophageal cancer due to the thin muscle walls of these organs, but can treat such cancers as that of the head, neck and spine. Using CyberKnife, the Centre Oscar Lambret in Lille was able to treat more than 200 patients who could not otherwise have been treated in 18 months. More than 35,000 people worldwide have benefited from the technology to date. Machines cost between £2 and £3 million, while a lead-lined bunker costs an additional £6 or so.
Clinical trials are carried out by medical research organizations and charities who need to test developments in drugs and medical procedures before taking them any further or putting them on the market. Medical trials are heavily regulated and they are only carried out once the drug or device in question has passed safety tests and gains the approval of a health authority and/or ethics committee so as not to put any of its human testers in danger, though as with any treatment, there still remains some degree of uncertainty. The participants in drug trials are typically volunteers, though most trials offer considerable payment to fulfil their research needs as quickly and efficiently as possible. There are different volunteer requirements for each trial, depending on what kind it is, and so not any old person can sign up to do one. These strict entry conditions are put in place because, for accuracy, the participants in each trial need to be as similar to each other as is humanly possible. Trials are expensive, time-consuming and – in a sense – urgent all at once, so precision is key. For basic Phase 0 or Phase 1 drug trials, potential volunteers must undergo a medical screening in order to take part. Unless their results are positive and fit the needs of the trial co-coordinator, they won’t be able to partake as it is essential that the testers are at a level of health appropriate for that particular study to get accurate results and avoid discrepancies that could put the entire trial in jeopardy.
Tests carried out in a medical screening typically include: – Blood sampling– Drug abuse testing – Weight and height measurement – Measure of blood pressure, heart rate and temperature – Urine sampling – Measurement of the electrical activity of the heart – Pregnancy testing (only applicable to women).
This medical screening is carried out for all clinical trials, but for the aforementioned drug trials the volunteer’s eligibility generally depends entirely on it, while others have additional requirements or specifications. Most other trials look for patients and volunteers who have a particular disease or medical condition, so different rules apply. These trials are carried out by patient organizations and charities focusing on finding treatments and solutions to things such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and arthritis, each trial having varying entry conditions. Because of the nature of the disease and its many different kinds, cancer trials are complex and contain variants from study to study, as doctors and researchers usually focus on a single type of cancer to find out what does or does help to treat it. Personal GP’s are generally consulted prior to going into a trial, and they can advise against participating for any number of reasons. Other factors that influence eligibility into any clinical trial can include age, medical treatments currently being undergone, the particular stage of the participant’s condition or over-subscription.
Christmas is finally over, the decorations have been lovingly packed away in their boxes, and I can look back with fond memories. This Christmas was pretty special, my toddler was really excited this year about Santa coming down the chimney, It was such a delight to have him so engrossed in Christmas. It was also my babies 1st Christmas, she was only a mere 13 days old, but it was so special to have her here for a proper family Christmas.
The kids were all pleased with their presents.
I had spent Santa had spent a great amount of time choosing the perfect presents. My children were quite low maintenance with their Christmas lists, with my 10 year old saying he didn’t have anything he really wanted. He opened up a new HD television for his Xbox and Skylanders Giants. He was very chuffed! My daughter got a Cabbage Patch Doll, which bought back fond memories from when I was a child. My toddler got the Octonauts Gup X he had spent months hoping he would get. My husband wanted a Kindle, but he lacks time to actually sit down and read, so I got him a new mp3 player so he can listen to some mp3 audio books instead. I got a gorgeous Tunnocks teacake mug, which is very appropriate for me, as I am a bit of a teacake addict!
When it came to presents for my parents, it was tricky knowing what to get them. They have everything they could possibly want, and if they ever want anything then they go out and buy it. I don’t want to spend time and effort buying them a present that never gets used, or that they feel they have to use just to please me. With this all in mind I thought a voucher for their favourite restaurant would be good, but instead I went with personalised handmade mugs with their names on. They were a hit, and rather strangely my sister bought them a teapot with my nieces footprints on, not bad considering we didn’t even discuss it beforehand!
Did you get any amazing presents or perhaps you gave an amazing gift? I would love to hear about it!
As a working mum to four children, everything has to be in it’s place. There is no point in not being organised, even for the slightest things. Each night before School the kids packed lunches are prepared and put in the fridge ready for the morning. The kids have to get their clean clothes out before bed too,everyone plays their part in organising in this house. Preparation is the key!
So can you really have it all? Well you can certainly try, and that’s exactly what I do. I work hard not only with the house and getting everyone organised but also with my working life. I work hard to be able to afford the house we live in. I truly believe that the world is your oyster in your working life, you can achieve anything you put your mind to. I dipped my toe into the world of money making when I left school at the tender age of 16. I managed to blag a job with a top London bank, that is where I saw what potential there is to make money and be successful in what you do. I dreamt at the age of 16 of being a personal banker, but there was many other banking jobs which mean you can make a tidy wage packet that you can be proud of. My highlight was buying myself a Louis Vuitton handbag with my wages, the wages I had worked hard to earn with an honest days wage.
So why am I not a successful banker? Despite the busy London life being enjoyable, sociable and with great money, my heart yearned for more. I left London life to have my first son, and have never gone back. One day when the kids have grown up more, and possibly left home then I will no doubt go back to commuting to the City to work. But meanwhile my kids are so young, and so important to me that I just couldn’t bear the thought of being away from them for 14 hours a day, they would be asleep by the time I got home and would probably be asleep when I left for work in the morning. Especially considering how reliable the First Great Western train service is!
So can you really have it all? Well it depends what you want out of life. I love my family, and my priorities are my children and I will pretty much work any job if it means more time to spend with them.
Avoid disaster on winter holidays
Christmas and the New Year are perfect times for a winter holiday, whether hitting the slopes for a ski break or jetting off to the beach. Your family’s safety is all-important whilst on holiday, and although nearly everyone will take out travel insurance beforehand, this is really the least you should be doing in preventing holiday illness or having to make a holiday accident claim whilst abroad.
Food poisoning on holiday can have family members laid up in bed for the week instead of showing off skiing techniques or relaxing on a beach. It may be possible to prevent food poisoning and similar sicknesses by sticking to a few simple guidelines. Many far-flung destinations have unsafe tap water, so avoid this and instead stick with bottled water. Avoid salad and raw vegetables which will often have been washed in tap water and instead choose only cooked food which is steaming hot when served. In developing countries it is also wise to avoid raw or undercooked meat, poultry, seafood and eggs, as well as unpasteurized milk products and soft cheeses.
Having an accident whilst on holiday can have severe consequences, especially if this involves continued treatment once you return home. Many parents will be planning on taking their kids skiing over the Christmas holidays, and whilst this can be a fun family holiday, accidents can easily occur. Even families who ski every year should take a lesson on their first day to re-introduce them to the slopes – this is especially important for kids, who may easily have forgotten techniques. Taking it easy is also important, so make sure you take a rest day during your holiday. Research has found that after 3pm on the third day of a ski holiday is the most common time for accidents. So, designate your third holiday day to do some relaxing activities with your partner and kids.
Being prepared prior to departure is also important. Make sure any necessary vaccinations are kept up to date by visiting your doctor well in advance of your trip: some jabs need to be given in installments. Stock up on medicine to take with you too, as you may experience difficulties in some countries getting items which are easy to come by in the UK. Encourage safe hygiene practices amongst your kids, and equip them all with a mini bottle of hand sanitiser. This is perhaps the simplest and most effective way of preventing infection and keeping hands clean.
Medical care is of exceptional quality in many holiday destinations and often a doctor or emergency treatment is within easy reach. However, even when treatment and care are excellent, an accident or sickness for one family member can easily ruin a holiday for all. Make preparations beforehand and be sure to follow simple steps to ensure the safety and good health of everyone on your winter holiday this year.