Sunday, 6 September 2015

Celebrating Innovation, Milestone Birthdays and whats the price of a bottle of Château Lafite

There was plenty to celebrate last week. A whole load of people came to Manchester for the Health and Care Innovation Expo 2015. When I was there speakers included, Ian Williamson; Simon Stevens; David Dalton, Jeremy Hunt, Devi Shetty (someone I am hoping to meet up with in India later this year), Tami Grey Thompson and Jane Cummings. It was a great gathering and really allowed the plans and early achievements for 'Devo Manc' to be effectively showcased.

Connected to #Expo15NHS 2 day event was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, by key partners from a number of greater Manchester organisations, including, GM Academic Health Science Network; the Clinical Research Network; Manchester Science Partnerships; Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, the 4 Universities and many others. The new partnership that was formed, Healthcare Innovations Manchester, will initially focus on collaborative research aimed at cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, drug and alcohol misuse, and obesity in adults and children.

Whilst there was a celebratory glass of wine to sip at the signing evening it was yesterday that my liver really took a bashing and I have to say that writing this week's blog I am feeling ever so slightly under the weather. I am spending the weekend near the Lake District National Park, actually in a small village called Warton, (Carnforth), and more precisely I am writing this in a rather quirky hotel, the George Washington. Last night I was at the Old School Brewery, a microbrewery, producers of some excellent beer, which if I am honest, I partook of a pint or two.

The Old School Brewery was established in 2012, and like many microbreweries, it came to be from a couple guys whose home brewing hobby grew into a small business. Situated at the foot of Warton Crag, the Old School brewers use top quality ingredients mixed with patience and respect to produce first class hand crafted beers. I was celebrating a friends 50th birthday, and I have to say a good time was had by all!

However, having a good time has left me with a slight hangover. And nobody knows what causes a hangover. In a piece of research undertaken by University College London and presented at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology Conference last week, noted that while we don’t know what causes a hangover, we also don’t know what might cure a hangover. A research study conducted by researchers from Canada and Holland surveyed nearly 900 students and their approaches to dealing with a hangover. 54% chose to eat fatty food and heavy breakfasts, and 70% also drank water before going to bed.

Neither of these approaches made any difference to the severity of the hangovers. You can see some of the popular so called cures for a hangover here, but essentially the message is if you want to avoid a hangover, drink less alcohol. Members of the Scottish Parliament are trying to do that through the introduction of a minimum unit price for the sale of all alcohol. The Scottish government have argued that minimum pricing is vital to address Scotland’s 'unhealthy relationship with drink'. Way back in 2012 MSPs passed legislation which set the minimum unit price at 50p. However implementation of this law has been delayed as the European Court of Justice fear its implementation may infringe free trade agreements. 

Last week the Court ruled the measure could be introduced only if no other mechanism was capable of achieving the desired outcome of protecting public health. It is difficult to see how such a measure could be taken forward in any event. I travel to Scotland most weekends and can’t imagine that anyone is going to check whether I have a case of Château Lafite in the boot of the car or not. However in the completely surreal world that is Scottish politics Nicola Sturgeon may have other plans, but before putting in border controls, perhaps Nicola and her health minister colleagues could visit Manchester and see some of our health innovations…