Rethink Health - November 2009

News through the GoodHealthKeeping lens

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Saville Turner Holistic Trust Open for Business

Some years ago I was approached to be a Trustee for the will of a long-serving member of Good HealthKeeping. That lady died three years ago leaving a substantial estate with which she had hoped to found an holistic clinic in one of four towns in South Lincolnshire, commemorating her father, a garage proprietor from Bourne. By that time costs had escalated and such a project was deemed unfeasible by the Charities Commission, so instead we have agreed to offer substantial grants in aid of treatment by therapists already established in premises in the area.

We began seeking registration by therapists some months ago. We asked for evidence of their expertise and experience, their likely fees, and proof of insurance cover. About twenty registrations are now complete, covering a wide range of treatment skills. 

We believe there are still many therapists who have not yet registered, perhaps because the opportunity seems too good to be true, or because our letter has been binned as junk mail. We would welcome approaches from any therapists likely to qualify, who have not yet applied for registration.

Meanwhile we have begun in the past month to make our services known to the public across South Lincolnshire. Anyone wondering whether holistic treatment would broaden the benefit of any NHS care they receive, but who would be put off by the cost, can get in touch. Most doctor's surgeries, as well as therapists registered with us,  have a supply of our application leaflets; or you can apply direct to us at our usual number. Advice is available to help choose something appropriate. You must apply before agreeing a course of treatment, and it must be with someone already registered with us.

We are also prepared to subsidise group work of the life-enhancing kind. The group leader will need to register with us and apply on behalf of each group intending to form; otherwise the procedure is the same. Funding will not cover the entire cost, since we feel it is important that people contribute something in order to value it. We also ask that some sort of feedback be provided at the end of the course of activity or treatment, so that we can advise future applicants with more confidence.

So far we have agreed in principle some applications for group work in old people's homes, helping residents with no previous experience to paint pictures. Yoga classes, keep fit sessions and music teachers might also succeed, with the right application. 

Please make us known to friends in the target area. If you have suggestions for yet broader interpretation of our health-enhancement quest, please let me know.

Breast Feeding News

 I would not have believed there was anything left to discover about feeding babies the way provided for by nature, but something came up this month that had not previously occurred to me. 

The composition of breast milk changes according to the baby's hunger, obviously enough - starting richer, then thinning somewhat the longer the baby sucks. I had not previously realised that the milk also varies in content through the day. During the hours of daylight it is more stimulating, and after dusk more sedative.

Consequently if mother expresses milk during the day to be given at bedtime, it may make the baby restless - like the effect of a late night cup of coffee on an adult. 

Where, I wonder, does this put working mothers on the night shift? Do they make sedative milk during their off-duty daytime, or does daylight over-rule that? If you have experience of this situation, please tell.

Recent news from Bristol University about cot death risk will bring relief to all new parents, however. Some researchers have in the past claimed that parents risk suffocating babies they take into bed with them to feed or to lull them to sleep. On closer inspection, this risk only seems to loom if the parents have consumed alcohol or drugs, or if mother falls asleep while feeding baby lying on a sofa. Sober parents in their own beds hardly ever have trouble. On the contrary - since infants who cannot feel, hear, smell or taste mother cannot tell she still exists - sleeping near or with mother provides great comfort during the bewildering early months of life.

Swine Flu Vaccine

Some of you may be about to be offered this new vaccine by your GP. If you are generally well and fight off colds easily, I cannot see any point in it. If ordinary flu vaccine is anything to go by, I even doubt if it will make any difference at all - apart from making a subsequent diagnosis of swine flu far less likely.

When we audited flu vaccine experience in Grimoldby many years ago, we found no benefit or adverse effect on balance - it might have been an injection of water. So we continued to vaccinate people who believed that it had helped them in the past, and did not press it on anyone else. I would be less inclined this time even to vaccinate enthusiasts, since I cannot see how  sufficient evidence of safety and effectiveness can possibly have been collected in the time available. 

In short, don't be bullied into accepting it against your will. If you are favourably inclined, please bear in mind how new it is. There is a case for waiting to see how the first wave of recipients get on.