Sunday, 1 November 2015

Training Nurses and Social Workers and the Case for Avoiding Smoking & Sausages

I want to start this week’s blog with a big thank you to all of you who took the time to read last week’s blog and then took more time to let me know what you thought – almost overwhelmingly, the tweets and emails were very positive and many people shared my excitement over what looks to be a great opportunity to shape future nurse education and practice. I will pass on these comments to Jackie Smith at the NMC

The view regarding future Social Worker training was however, less positive this week. The announcement that the controversial social work training programme Frontline, was being launched for the first time in the North East was greeted with very mixed responses. This 2 year programme, which costs a staggering £19000 a year, provides a fast track route into social work. Individuals gain a social work qualification in a year and a Masters qualification in year 2.

The programme, which was launched in summer 2014, evoked great ill-feeling and disquiet from those providing a more traditional model of university based, generic training for social work. Sam Baron chair of the Joint University Council’s Social Work Education Committee comments last week will be shared by many: ‘They [Frontline] is training people to do a job, we are educating for a profession’. She also noted that tenders are currently being issued for further Frontline programme provision and this before the existing programme has been evaluated. Watch this space, it’s a debate that has some way to run yet. 

There was another debate last week that made me smile (and be thankful that I have been a long time vegetarian). It was of course, the World Health Organisation (WHO) announcement that bacon, ham and sausages rank alongside cigarettes as a major cause of cancer. It was the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) that reported there was now enough evidence to rank processed meats as a Class 1 carcinogen alongside alcohol and cigarettes which are also classified as being a Class 1 carcinogen. Of some 940 agents reviewed by the IARC, only one substance found in yoga pants, didn't cause cancer. 

Last Monday’s Guardian newspaper coverage of the story included a wonderful observation by Betsy Booren, from the North American Meat Institute in response to this study and in particular that red meat was a Class 2A carcinogen. She is quoted as saying ‘the IARC says you can enjoy your yoga class, but don’t breathe in the air (Class 1 carcinogen), sit near a sun-filled window (Class 1), apply aloe vera (Class 2B) if you get sunburn, drink wine or coffee (Class 1 and 2B),or eat grilled food (Class 2A). And if you are a hairdresser or do shift work (both Class 2A), you should seek a new career’

More seriously, as we get to the end of October and this years ‘Stopober’ it was good to read the report from Public Health England who note that this year, 215,000 people signed up to stop smoking. This commitment reflects the substantial reductions seen in the numbers of people smoking over the last 30 years. Whilst there are still approximately 8 million smokers in England, there are now 37% fewer smokers than 30 years ago. Only 21% of all households now include a smoker – but nearly 80,000 deaths a year are caused by smoking and treating smoking related diseases costs the NHS an estimated £2 billion a year. So remember, while a eating a ham sandwich might be bad for you, it’s still not as risky as 20-a-day smoking habit.