As we start the New Year loosening our belts and de-tinselling our homes, many will be worrying how they are going to manage in a world of rising prices, continual emergencies, warnings, scare tactics, anxiety and yet more warnings of dire doom and gloom to come. Our governments don’t seem to be feeling as generous as they did in the heady days of lockup, when everyone was effectively put on ‘furlough’ (prisoners' leave for good behaviour) and paid (ordered) to stay at home.
As the net tightens all around us, His Majesty’s Government appears to have decided to take the ‘toughen-up’ approach and throw us their mere servants to the proverbial sharks; abandoning us all, leaving most stranded, fighting for their lives with no lifeboats in sight.
Our Prime Minister is (at the time of writing) preparing an emergency plan to deal with the crisis in our ‘health’ service. The Royal College of Emergency Medicine and the Society for Acute Medicine have both issued warnings about the ‘shocking’ state of emergency care, including an alert that it is currently unsafe and undignified. According to Dr Adrian Boyle, President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, up to 500 people are dying every week because of delays in emergency care.
The avoidable death toll appears to be surging, and this time a ‘bad flu season’ appears to be taking most of the blame. I might like to remind the NHS and HM Government that a ‘bad flu season’ had been predicted (at 40 minutes 20 seconds) as far back as July by our very own Sir Stephen Powis, now a Knight Bachelor—clearly the message didn’t reach the coal face in order to ‘prepare’.
Flu jab, Covid–19? Did you jingle your way down to the local vaccination centre over the Christmas and New Year break? Unlike the shops and most businesses, the selective vaccination branch of the NHS was open all hours delivering precious jabs to keep us all safe. There was no waiting or queues, unlike our overwhelmed accident and emergency departments. What better way for you to spend your holidays than rolling up your sleeve and accepting a novel untested injection? On Christmas Day, there were more than 5,500 slots available, marketed as a ‘jingle jab’—you really cannot make it up.
It appears that NHS staff are pulling out all the stops to make an experimental injection available to as many as possible, and with nine out of ten care home residents now fully boosted, we can look forward to the day in the very near future that the World Health Organisation no longer deems Covid–19 a public health emergency and will be instructing everyone to stand down. Strange how two weeks to flatten the curve turned into 156 weeks and counting.
Before I explain more of what you are likely to see in 2023, I would like to thank everyone who has shared and reposted the video clip of Dame June Raine addressing a Parliamentary Select Committee on 13 December 2022, at 11 am, at the end of the committee session. An extract featured on the main UK Column News (around 50 minutes in), where she drops the bombshell and admits that there have been no studies on medicines in pregnant women since thalidomide—nearly a lifetime ago.
The clip, courtesy of UK Column Extracts (@ExtractsUK on Twitter), has been whizzing around social media and is really starting to gain traction. Many UK Column viewers and listeners ask us what they can do to help, many feeling helpless and alone. The answer is simple. Please share our material wherever you can: it can and does save lives.
Everyone knows someone who is of childbearing age or perhaps thinking of having a child or who may be already pregnant, so after watching a single two-minute clip she may wish to reconsider her decision to take an injection that neither they nor her unborn baby needs. It may not seem much, but it only takes a few minutes and costs nothing. The impact of sharing this information can indeed be life-changing, often life-saving.
This week, I will be focusing on the elderly, vulnerable and in some cases the young, too. I want to hone in on neurodegenerative disease and how it will feature in the news in 2023. Watch the mainstream media headlines over the next few months. Dementia, which is classified as a neurodegenerative disease, affects an estimated 35 million people worldwide, and that figure is set to double every 20 years. Dementia will be high on the agenda and is an expensive but lucrative business.
Dementia, Alzheimer’s and prion disease
Cast your mind back to March 2012, when David Cameron, Prime Minister at the time, launched the Dementia Challenge (sic!).
One of the greatest challenges of our time is what I’d call the quiet crisis, one that steals lives and tears at the hearts of families, but that relative to its impact is hardly acknowledged.
Dementia is simply a terrible disease. And it is a scandal that we as a country haven’t kept pace with it. The level of diagnosis, understanding and awareness of dementia is shockingly low. It is as though we’ve been in collective denial.
Already a quarter of hospital beds are occupied by someone with dementia. Already the total cost of the disease is around £19 billion—that is higher than the costs of cancer, heart disease or stroke. And in less than ten years, as we all live longer lives, the number of sufferers will reach a million.
So my argument today is that we’ve got to treat this like the national crisis it is. We need an all-out fight-back against this disease; one that cuts across society.
We did it with cancer in the 70s. With HIV in the 80s and 90s. We fought the stigma, stepped up to the challenge and made massive in-roads into fighting these killers. Now we’ve got to do the same with dementia.
In 2022, as we see care homes struggling to afford to remain open, one wonders whether old people will become like dinosaurs, an extinct species. Will our youngsters even remember the days of care homes? As more and more close or face closure, it won’t be long before their very existence has been forgotten. I can remember as far back as convalescent homes before the days of care homes, when some frail, post-operative or elderly patients would be transferred from hospital to enjoy a couple of weeks of sea air before returning home. Coastal towns such as Eastbourne and Bournemouth were popular locations for them, as I remember.
My kids think I have gone mad; the thought of sending patients on holiday for a fortnight is unthinkable to them. Those were the days. Did you know that currently one in ten dementia care homes have been awarded the worst rating for care? Well, you do now.
One of the buzzwords concerning health in 2023 will be dementia. But what is it, who gets it and why will we suddenly see a rise in diagnosis and deaths in 2023? Will it be associated with Covid–19 and lockup, as some would have us believe, or could Covid–19 ‘vaccination’ be one of the causal factors? The fact checkers have been quick to pour cold water on that theory; what a surprise. We are supposed to believe that all serious adverse reactions reported since the rollout of the vaccination have coincidentally been caused by Covid–19 instead. I don’t believe in coincidences.
Many GPs I have spoken to tell me of their surprise and shock at the rapidity and sudden deterioration in many of their patients who have a diagnosis of dementia. Why is that, I wonder? The Alzheimer’s Society says that more than 850,000 people in the UK have ‘some form of dementia’, with more than half having a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. However, in order to know the true figure, everyone will need testing. Dementia will be on the tip of the tongue of our élite, globalists and even church leaders. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is calling for better dementia support in the ‘community’.
Firstly, please note there is a difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia. Many get confused (no pun intended), so let’s try to set the record straight. Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for 60% to 70% of diagnoses. People who develop Alzheimer’s live for an average of between eight and ten years after diagnosis; however, some may live with the disease for up to 20 years, depending on different factors.
Dementia is a general decline in mental ability which has a substantial impact on everyday life. The term ‘dementia’ describes a varied group of symptoms associated with memory, reasoning and other ‘thinking’ skills. With numerous ‘types’ of dementia, many can receive a diagnosis of mixed dementia.
As we get older, our bodies don’t work as well as when we were young; that’s a given. When I look back on my nursing days and raising five children as a single mum, I have no clue how I juggled so many plates all at once! No wonder my memory isn’t as sharp as it used to be: so much more has happened, and remembering all of it would be impossible. Senior moments, as I refer to them, are just normal wear and tear. I can be told something one minute only to forget it the next, but it doesn’t impair my life. It is just a tad irritating at times; this is normal. However, according to ‘specialists’, this is not normal and is caused by damage to brain cells affecting the ability to communicate and think. Their ‘damage’ is my wear and tear!
If you or I were to be assessed while manifesting no symptoms using the current NICE assessment tool, how would we score? Would we receive a diagnosis of dementia? Most people with Alzheimer’s or dementia are 65 years and older; however, there is a new-ish kid on the block called younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia UK has created a section of content about young-onset dementia to bring together as much information for people under the age of 65, covering key issues.
To complicate matters further, some may have heard of prion disease; the similarities to Alzheimer’s are startling. A prion is an abnormal form of a naturally-occurring protein (we have been hearing that word lately—spike protein) that can form into an abnormal protein. Over time, these prions can accumulate and damage the brain, causing changes in behaviour and a rapid onset of dementia, combined with movement problems.
The most well-known prion disease in animals is bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), more commonly referred to as ‘mad cow disease’ since the 1996 scare in which Britain was made the culprit internationally. In humans, one form of prion disease you may have heard of is known as Creutzfeltd-Jakob Disease (CJD). In 2021, an article in the East Anglian Daily Times revealed that projections indicate there will be a rapid rise in cases. The number of affected people in the age bracket of 65 or over is likely to grow from the current one in five people to one in three people by 2030, and there is a prediction that the number of people with dementia will increase to 23,000 by 2040.
The NHS has announced that thanks to a new specialist service to be rolled out in 2023, hundreds (more like thousands, I say) will be checked for dementia. According to experts, the pandemic has significantly impacted those with dementia and the effects it has had on their families. A new trial targeting care home residents (those guinea pigs again) is underway.
Specialist nurses and other healthcare professionals will assess all residents who are not exhibiting any symptoms of dementia to ensure they are not being neglected. GPs will play their part and will share lists of their patients who reside in care homes. Memory tests and full face-to-face assessments will be carried out to determine whether they have early signs of dementia. All with the best of intentions, of course.
NHS England has managed to delve deep into the NHS financial hole to find £900,000 to launch two pilot schemes in each of England’s seven top-level regions, which will begin this month (January 2023). Miraculously, NHS England appears to have enough staff in place to offer this unique ‘service’. Perhaps the staff would be better put to use in our hospitals? Just a thought.
The original pilot for this new service was carried out in Norfolk and resulted in 95 people out of the trial group of 100 receiving new dementia diagnoses. I wonder whether I would fit the criteria, considering I never remember where I put my glasses or my keys. Far from giving me peace of mind, as a family member of one of those diagnosed reportedly responded, this ‘service’ fills me with terror. How many of our elderly will be diagnosed and treated for a condition that may not be what it appears on first sight?
At this point, as in many health stories, I must include the involvement of the Medicines and Health Care Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), of which—as every UK Column viewer knows—Dame June Raine is CEO.
The MHRA board members have multiple roles and experience, as well as plenty of conflicts of interest with pharmaceutical companies, philanthropic organisations and private companies—none more so than Raj Long.
Regular viewers of UK Column will recognise her name, as she has been on my who is she radar for over two years. Raj Long comes from the Bill and Melinda Gates stable, and when she was first appointed to the MHRA Board in 2021 she was also employed by them.
Ms Long is hailed by the UK Government as a senior international regulatory executive in the pharmaceutical industry, and is an advisor to the Department of Health and Social Care, the European Union, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the World Health Organisation (WHO). Does that sound like a conflict of interest to you? It does to me.
As Deputy Director for safety and pharmocovigilance at the Gates Foundation, and as Consultant Advisor to the Chief Scientist of the WHO (who is now our very own Wellcome Trust's Jeremy Farrar) and co-lead on the COVAX Task Force for Covid–19 vaccine manufacturing, Ms Long has her fingers in many highly powerful and influential pies.
She pulls this off without boasting any apparent medical or relevant professional accolades, other than holding international regulatory roles with many pharmaceutical companies (if anyone reading can find out more, please do let us know; her sudden rise to expert status is somewhat inexplicable).
Perhaps even more concerning was Ms Long’s appointment as Vice-Chair of the World Dementia Council. She also provided advice to numerous expert groups, including governmental initiatives such as the G7 Global Action against Dementia initiative and the Accelerated Access Review with NHS England. In 2022, Ms Long was also appointed as an associate board member of the newly-formed UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).
I would like to rewind quickly back to 2013. In that year, the UK hosted the world’s first G8 Dementia Summit in London, bringing together ministers, researchers, pharmaceutical companies and charities to discuss what could be done to stimulate greater investment and innovation into dementia research. This British push ultimately led to the publication in 2015 of Raj Long’s independent report, Finding a path for a cure to dementia: An independent report into an integrated approach to dementia drug development.
The UK Department of Health produced an official response outlining its continued commitment to this work, suggesting how it might work with partners to take the work forward as a model for global action against dementia.
In summary, it appears that Ms Long appears to have been appointed by the UK as the world's Dementia Drug Discovery Diva, without any obvious qualifications.
The drug pipeline is full of ‘dementia drugs’ and there’s even a vaccine coming down the line to reverse Alzheimer’s. Couple that with a ground-breaking new test due to be rolled out within the NHS in the next 3 years and we could be looking forward to a ‘Decade of Diagnosis, Disease, Dementia and Dying’—how about that for a book title?
The new drug our experts are heralding as a momentous breakthrough is called Lecanemab, its telltale suffix indicating that this is a monoclonal antibody aimed at interacting with early stages of the disease. This ‘treatment’ is given by way of an infusion twice a month and has a very poor safety profile. For those of you who want to know how it works, it is engineered to clear amyloids from the brain. Amyloids are proteins that are said to clump together in spaces between neurons and the brain, which forms a plaque-like, gooey substance that is one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s.
Whilst many scientists are very excited about this ground-breaking ‘therapy’, others are not convinced. The question still remains, how many of our elderly will be tested, assessed and diagnosed with a disease which they may or may not suffer from, and then medicated with a powerful ineffective ‘therapeutic’ with a high risk and low benefit?
If the thought of a monoclonal antibody for dementia does not fill you with warmth, have no fear. Perhaps, just perhaps, a medication used for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) will help. Words fail me.
The dementia business is a big one, but what does the future hold for those with the condition? Expect to see ‘dementia villages’ popping up. They were originally modelled in the Netherlands. I must remember to ask my friend and colleague Alex Thomson if he is aware of Hogewey Dementia Village, the first of its kind in the world, but not for long—the UK has an equivalent in Warwick: Woodside Care Village. I will be writing a further article on the dementia ‘industry’ in the near future.
Bring your own medical kit
In my own native county of Cornwall, visitors and tourists have been asked to bring their own medical kits because the NHS is simply too overwhelmed to be able to cope with anything other than the most urgent of conditions. The NHS has declared a critical incident, and phoning through anything other than genuine 999 incidents must be avoided at all costs.
Coughing? Need cough medicine? Perhaps it’s cancer
Cornwall again! If you are in Cornwall and have a cough or have a urinary tract infection, which may detect blood in your urine, please be prepared to participate in an episode of Twenty Questions if you need any over-the-counter treatments from your pharmacist. Not for the first time, I note that that word contains the string 'harm'. Even if you are buying a cough medicine, you could be referred to hospital for more tests.
Considering the NHS in Cornwall has declared a critical incident and has advised everyone to stay away from hospital, it all seems a little suspect to me. It may be worth noting that the population of Cornwall is over half a million and yet the county only has one main hospital with 760 beds. The Royal Cornwall Hospital, more commonly known to locals as Treliske, is based in Truro and covers the whole county, which by train takes two hours to travel from end to end. Add five million visitors a year—and the fact that the Duchy of Cornwall, a direct royal possession, is the second poorest region in Northern Europe after West Wales—and you may be forgiven for thinking that the idyllic scenes of pasties and chips, scones and cream are but a façade to hide the misery that lies within.
Rest assured that the Prince and Princess of Wales won’t go short. The income that they receive from the Duchy funds their public engagements on behalf of the United Kingdom. Many visitors are unaware that when they park their cars, some of the proceeds go straight to the Duchy. If you do live in Cornwall, ensure you have a last will and testament in place, or else your estate will automatically pass directly to the Duchy. How’s that for fairness?
Clinical pharmacists and their roles in General Practice
Clinical pharmacists are working more and more with general practice teams. Considered highly qualified experts in medicine (not necessarily health), they are being hailed as the next go-to group for advice and treatment. This will supposedly improve patient safety and will be the new ‘norm’.
UK Column News has been reporting for over a year on the demise of the General Practitioner or family doctor to make room for the rise of the community pharmacist. The NHS Long Term Plan commits to making community pharmacists a fundamental part of the primary health care team.
As part of the UK's five-year GP Contract Framework Reform, a new Network Contract Directed Enhanced Service (DES) will be introduced. As Alex Thomson would say, word soup for incentivising GPs with more funding—if they recruit clinical pharmacists into their team.
GPs as we have known them will go, with many already leaving the profession or retiring—the death knell sounds loudly. I am that old that I remember the days when your GP with his familiar black medicine bag would visit your home, no matter the hour. It isn’t that long ago that GPs would visit a patient in hospital prior to their discharge to ensure they had everything they needed—a handover from secondary to primary care. Those were the days.
NHS in collapse
It is official, the NHS is no longer fit for purpose: ambulances unavailable, Accident & Emergency wards strewn with patients sleeping on the floor, elderly patients being asked to inform a nurse when their oxygen has run out. With 73% of Tory voters blaming the Government, the situation is beyond critical. A National Incident will undoubtedly be called and doctors will blame the Government for the collapse. Are any of them aware that many of themselves have contributed to this crisis by not following the lodestone of their code of ethics, ‘Do No Harm’?
Just to infuriate healthcare professionals some more, the Government is planning to cap pay rises to 2%—well below inflation. Prepare to ‘toughen up’ and face much worse conditions to come. For our readers and listeners in other countries, please pass on the word that the United Kingdom is far from united, it is very disunited and discombobulated. We have no accessible safe health service here; it is not safe for patients.
No longer should we be seen as a developed country for health, because we do not even have the level of care that a third-world country could expect. However, when it comes to testing us, experimenting on us and harming us, our Government is delivering a tour de force, ensuring that it is seen to be making the UK the life science capital of the world at our expense, and without our permission, consent or agreement.
I make no apologies for dedicating this blog mainly to our elderly population. They are being attacked on many fronts. Accelerated end-of-life care plans jostle with injections that they probably would have refused if they had been informed of the dangers and if their places in care homes didn’t depend on acquiescence. Now, they will be quizzed and examined to ascertain whether they have a hidden disease, despite having no symptoms. And then what? More of those accelerated end-of-life care plans, spun as being in their best interests?
2023 will be a big year, and make no mistake, UK Column viewers and listeners will be getting the news first, hot off the digital press. Stay calm, expect anything, believe no-one, and keep your elderly, children and pets close.
Until next week with more breaking news (there will be!),
Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth. Psalm 71:9