Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A little tinkering of the system.

I've been under the bonnet at the back of the blog with my little sonic screwdriver. I've adjusted the comments filter (messy job that) so that I can now receive comments from anyone. If you've tried to leave a comment and been put off by the forbidding login procedure, try once more. I'm sure you'll be pleasantly surprised. Please be patient, I'm still learning how to drive this thing.

Return of the revenge of the son of MMR

Just when you thought it was safe to return to the GP's surgery to get your children vaccinated, new research shows yet more possible links between the MMR triple vaccine and autistic bowel disorder. The research by Dr Stephen Walker of Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina is being presented this week in Montreal, and states that 85% of children with autistic bowel disorders have been found to have measles virus in their gut, identical to the one used in the vaccine.
Now I'm only reporting what's appeared in the papers. I do not know any details of the research, but I am sure they will be debated in the media. There will be hysteria, and government denials, and another falling off in the rate of vaccination, leading to an increase in mumps, measles and rubella. I'm sure you know the script by now?
What concerns me, amongst other things, is the effect of government on scientific research, especially, the vilification of Dr Andrew Wakefield, the guy who initially made the link. Because his work was inconvenient to the authorities, he was stamped on. Again. And again.
That is not how science should proceed. If there is an anomaly, you go back to the laboratory. You rerun the experiment, you do the research again. You do everything in your power to find the cause of the anomaly, because only by searching do you learn. It may be an error, or it may be a breakthrough.
Children's lives depend on getting it right. The MMR vaccine is probably safe for most children, and will certainly protect them from misery, but if there are a handful of children who may be affected, we need to find out the pathophysiology, and how to screen them, so as to exclude them from the programme.

May I state here and now that I have not had the MMR vaccine. I was vaccinated against measles, back in the sixties, and had mumps and rubella as a child.
Having mumps wasn't so great, but I hardly noticed the rubella. If Mum hadn't seen the rash on my neck as I was leaving the house, I would have gone to school and infected my class. I got a week off school. Thanks Mum. Thanks Rubella.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Wow! What a day it's been. First day back at work since starting the blog, and I've managed to get the URL out to half the ophthalmic nurses in Scotland. My thanks to Sharon for sending the glad tidings, and to Mary for having the idea. I've also received my first comment.
I don't mind telling you, I'm terrified! I've announced to the great and the good in nursing society - heck, I even e-mailed the Nursing Standard! I feel the cold weight of expectation. Lets hope with great responsibility comes great power?

A friend of mine mentioned that he was having problems installing a computer system for his company. He'd paid out good money for a less than perfect system! At least it wasn't £20 billion, the estimated final cost of the health service's online booking service for GP surgeries.
How can a computer system cost £20 billion?
£4 billion has already been spent - and the system doesn't work properly. You could buy eight parliament buildings for that money, which could wipe out the NHS defecit at a stroke.
Where's the money going? Computers aren't that expensive.

Monday, May 29, 2006

On the second day...

Right, I've sent out the invitations, including one to the Nursing Standard. Now I've really burnt my bridges. If you read this, any ideas on how to get this blog to a wider audience would be greatly appreciated.
Today's topic, is the doctors calling for the NHS funding of alternative therapies to cease. Money could be better spent on better things (coffee and biscuits for nurses maybe?).
I'm a skeptic. If an alternative therapy can't be proved to be clinically effective in a standard, double-blind, scientific trial, then it shouldn't have public money wasted on it. They're placebos.
Homeopathy is hooey! If Reflexology is right and massaging your foot can heal the approprite part of your body, what happens when you stand on a nail?
As for Iridology... I hold that in the same regard as astronomers hold astrology.
I once drafted a spoof letter to the hospital newsletter about the appointment of a consultant iridologist and left it lying about the office. My colleagues didn't realise it was a spoof, and went ballistic! Man, that was a good day. It just shows the visceral loathing we reserve for iridologists in particular.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The motive for this blog.

I guess what has really pushed me into starting this blog is an article in Nursing Standard (Jones 2006) about how nurses should start blogs to share information about effective practice. Apparently, student nurses in the US have to set up a blog as part of their course. The article refers one to and , so I'd better check them out. At least it gives a reason for this blog. The best blogs have updateability, they've got news and comment. After all, you can't fill a blog just talking about yourself, can you?

Why Deacon Barry?

When I started leaving comments on other blogs, I found there was already a Chris (my real name) so I had to think of a pseudonym quickly. Deacon Barry seemed appropriate for a skeptical blog (I think it was Mike the Mad Biologist), notice the irony of using a religious title when I am a skeptical athiest, which I hope will be the general flavour of this blog.
I am Scottish. Deacon Brodie and Deacon Blue are both Scottish, which is also appropriate.
For those of you who speak scots, you will have realised that Deacon Barry has a homophonic double meaning. To deek means to look, and barry is a variant of braw, which means good. Hence deekin' barry - looking good!

Welcome to Deacon Barry

Welcome to Deacon Barry. I have decided to start a blog. I have been inspired by reading other blogs, such as: Irregular Times, Echidne of the Snakes and God is for Suckers. If you read some of the comments, you will find me there.
About myself: I am male, 41 (as of this post), married, and Scottish. I am a staff nurse working in one of the hospitals in Edinburgh. My hobbies include: writing, drawing, acting, directing and playing bridge.
Enough of me! On with the Blog...!