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Showing posts from October, 2009

Congratulations to Adeel Iqbal and the IEF

Former chairman and founder of the International Education Fund, Adeel Iqbal, received Imperial College's prestigious 'Student Award for Outstanding Achievement'. Adeel and his dedicated team invested much energy and enthusiasm into developing an organisation which brings together the talents of enthusiastic students to bring about positive academic changes in third world countries. Amongst Adeel's major achievement has been partnering with a school for blind children in Kashmir. The IEF is growing rapidly and is now under the leadership of fifth year medical student Suha Bachir who is launching a project to help refugee children in the Western Sahara, Africa. This project is to be launched on the 11th November 2009 at Imperial College Business School.

Medics at Imperial College Business School

Many doctors now play a major role in managing health services, both in the UK and elsewhere. To help them acquire the skills they need, a number of masters courses are available. Medics at Imperial College Business School is a new student club formed to act as a networking portal for doctors enrolled onto the various MSc and MBA courses at the Business School and the MPH Programme in the Faculty of Medicine. It will provide a common ground for medics looking to diversify their career and take-up challenging roles both inside and outside of clinical medicine. The group plans to invite alumni and other guest speakers to the business school to share their experiences and also invite companies working in the healthcare sector for campus presentations and networking sessions. In the long term, it will become a connecting link between the business school and the medical profession by organizing talks to discuss issues that matter the most to healthcare. The group held a successful evening …

Increasing hospital admissions for haemochromatosis in England

Haemochromatosis is a genetic disorder in which affected people absorb an excessive amount of iron from the diet. The iron is then deposited around the body, mainly the liver, but also in the pancreas, heart, skin, endocrine glands, and joints. These iron deposits can cause serious organ damage and lead to major medical complications. In a recent paper on haemochromatosis in which I was a contributing author, Dr Jin-Yong Kang from St. George’s Hospital and colleagues investigated time trends for hospital admissions resulting from haemochromatosis in England from 1989/90 to 2002/03 and mortality from 1979 to 2005.

We found that although haemochromatosis was an uncommon cause for hospital admission, age standardised inpatient admission rates increased over the study period by 269% in males and by 290% in females. The increase in age standardised day-case admission rates was even higher (males: 1,155%; females: 1,924%). Haemochromatosis was not commonly recorded as a cause of death. The …

Why I Work Here - Featured on the Imperial College Employment Page

An interview I did with Alex Platt of the Imperial College Reporter is featured on the Imperial College Employment Page. The article describes a typical day at work for me. My work is quite diverse and includes research, writing, teaching, management and clinical duties. A lot of my time is spent supporting junior researchers and PhD students and dealing with students and lecturers on the Imperial College MPH programme, for which I am the Course Director. For information on research projects, take a look at my Imperial College Publications page.

New research reveals 41% increase in children’s short stay hospital admissions

The number of children being admitted to hospitals in England for short stays increased by 41 per cent between 1996 and 2006, according to research published in PLoS One today by Dr Sonia Saxena and Alex Bottle from Imperial College London. The authors of the study say this increase may be linked to a shortfall in out-of-hours primary care services, but further research is needed before any firm conclusions can be drawn from the study. Other explanations include a change in hospital admission practices or in health-seeking behaviour by parents. The article was featured in the Daily Telegraph.

Health Disparities and Community Participation

Health disparities have been a longstanding feature of England’s NHS. In particular, socioeconomic and ethnic disparities remain in England despite numerous initiatives to abolish them. Initiatives to mitigate or overcome these disparities were discussed in a recent article on community participation published by myself and two colleagues in the October 2009 edition of the Journal of Ambulatory Care Management. These health disparities are the end result of complex, wide-ranging societal, healthcare-related, environmental, genetic, and individual factors. People who experience poverty, material disadvantage, poor housing, lower educational achievement, unemployment or insecure employment, or homelessness are more likely to suffer poorer health outcomes and an earlier death than the rest of the population. Hence, action to address these disparities has to be multisectoral, involving different government departments, local health services and local government, and community and charitab…

NW London CLRN Primary Care Meeting

One of the organisations I work with is the North-West London Comprehensive Local Research Network (CLRN). The North-West CLRN is one of 25 CLRNs across England which form part of the NIHR Comprehensive Clinical Research Network (CCRN). The CCRN provides support for clinical trials and other well designed studies in all areas of disease and clinical need. A key role for the CLRN is providing infrastructure support for studies on the NIHR Portfolio. Part of this infrastructure support is in primary care. On October 7th 2009, the CLRN held a meeting with some of the local GPs and other primary care staff who collaborate with the CLRN.

One of the key points arising from the meeting was the need to get more NIHR portfolio studies active in primary care in NW London. IT issues were also discussed, particularly the need for expertise to run queries on GP Electronic Patient Record Systems such as EMIS and Vision. The need to continue reimbursement of practice expenses and also to offer addit…

New Practice Website

My general practice at the Manor Health Centre in Clapham, London has set up a new practice website, viewable at The old website will remain viewable for some time but will eventually be shut down. Maintaining a 'bespoke' website became too difficult for me with all my other commitments. My practice has therefore contracted with a company that specialises in general practice websites, Websites4GPs. The advantage of this is that Websites4GPs maintains many practice websites and provides common content for them, as well as online services such as EMIS Access and repeat prescription ordering. The new website also operates a Content Management System, meaning that updates can be carried out by managerial and administrative staff in the practice without requiring knowledge of HTML or website design programs such as Microsoft FrontPage.

Pay for performance and comorbidity

While the use of pay for performance as a quality improvement tool in health care is increasing, little is known about the impact of these programs on the quality of care delivered to patients with multiple conditions. Pay for performance schemes, such as the Quality and Outcomes Framework in the UK, could impact the quality of care delivered to patients with complex medical problems in several ways. A study published by myself and colleagues in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine suggested that introduction of pay-for-performance in primary care in the UK has not had a negative impact on the quality of care delivered to patients with multiple medical conditions. Rather, patients with co-morbid medical conditions seem to have benefited more than those without co-morbidity. This is reassuring given that previous studies have found that patients with multiple medical conditions are more likely to be excluded from performance reporting in pay for performance programs. Our findin…