Now Showing: Amy JonesShow All
breaking news from the world of ideas

by Amy Jones
Wednesday, 25
May 2022

Report: the Government’s messaging made Covid worse

Pandemic policy manipulated, rather than informed, the public

A new inquiry by the charity Sense about Science, which aims to improve the use of science in public policy, claims that the Government’s top-down attitude to the Covid-19 pandemic may have hindered the public’s ability to respond, and even caused unnecessary harm.

The inquiry used testimony from expert witnesses combined with new population surveys to analyse the impact of the Government’s approach and communications during the pandemic. It found that, rather than empowering individuals to make sensible decisions based on risk and knowledge about the pandemic, the government instead chose to focus on simplistic slogans, such as ‘hands, face, space’ and stringent universal rules. ...  Continue reading

by Amy Jones
Tuesday, 26
April 2022

Does Vladimir Putin have cancer, Parkinson’s or dementia?

The remote medical diagnoses by the media are getting silly

Vladimir Putin is a medical miracle. Over the past few months, the Russian leader has been remotely diagnosed with enough diseases to fill a textbook. And yet, somehow, he staggers on.

In recent weeks Putin, 69, has been described by political commentators as “aged” and “ashen and bloaty”, with former foreign secretary David Owen reportedly telling the Times Radio that Putin’s “oval face” was a sign of steroid use.

And what is this steroid use thought to indicate? That Putin has cancer, of course. This was confirmed by an unnamed source — reportedly from the Pentagon — who was quoted by the Daily Star as stating that Putin was dying of bowel cancer and that his “angry look is most likely as a result of him being in agony”. This isn’t the only cancer diagnosis proposed, however. Dr Dalgleish, an Oncology Professor at St George’s Hospital suggested to GB News that Putin may well have a brain tumour. The Daily Mail, meanwhile, agrees about Putin’s cancer diagnosis, but it’s thyroid, not bowel, cancer that he’s suffering from. ...  Continue reading

by Amy Jones
Thursday, 21
April 2022

The NHS keeps failing pregnant women

Scandals in the health service reveal its underlying misogyny

The deaths of pregnant women from Covid-19 were “preventable” according to a leading scientist. Professor Marian Knight, who lead investigations into at least 40 maternal Covid deaths, told Newsnight on Tuesday that pregnant women had been an “afterthought” during the pandemic. Professor Knight said that the benefits of the vaccine were not properly communicated to them.

This is not the first time in recent weeks the NHS has been found to be failing pregnant women — particularly in tailoring and explaining treatment to them. Knight’s comments follow the publication of the Ockenden report last month, looking into Obstetric services at the Shrewsbury and Telford NHS trust. The report examined nearly 1600 clinical incidents spanning the years between 2000-2019. The findings were damning, describing a paternalistic system that communicated poorly, diminished women’s concerns, and denied women choice and agency. ...  Continue reading

by Amy Jones
Thursday, 14
April 2022

The NHS is using Covid to push for more restrictions

Why are powerful voices still calling for less indoor mixing?

You would be forgiven for feeling a sense of déjà vu this morning, as Matthew Taylor, CEO of the NHS Confederation once again described his frustration with the government’s “living with Covid” plan. After all, only three days earlier he had appeared on the BBC’s breakfast programme, again lambasting the Government for following a “living without restrictions ideology”.

The Confederation has appeared repeatedly in the media this week calling for “mitigating actions”, reported to include new restrictions on people mixing indoors, and a new push to make people wear face masks. Taylor was also keen to explain that NHS managers should be given leniency when it came to targets due to the impact of Covid. Whether the public will still buy this defence — two years after the start of the pandemic —remains to be seen. ...  Continue reading

by Amy Jones
Monday, 11
April 2022

Calorie counting menus will make eating disorders worse

Successive lockdowns have already exacerbated the problem nationwide

The first part of a key government drive to tackle obesity came into force last week. From now on, diners will be greeted with calories on menus when visiting restaurants, cafes and takeaways with more than 250 employees.

Many people will be supportive of such a policy — after all, rates of obesity have ballooned during the pandemic, particularly among children, and some intervention is urgently needed. However, the benefit of including calorie counts on menus remains to be seen. Research from America — where the practice of putting calories on menus is widespread — has shown mixed results, with many studies showing no overall impact on calories consumed...  Continue reading

by Amy Jones
Wednesday, 30
March 2022

Are Brits giving up on the NHS?

A new poll finds that over two-thirds of the population are dissatisfied

The latest poll on public views of the NHS, undertaken by the King’s Fund and the Nuffield Trust, makes for grim reading. Not only has satisfaction in the NHS dropped to its lowest level in 25 years, the speed at which it has fallen has also been dramatic: between 2020-2021, satisfaction plummeted by a record 17 points to 36%.

This is a far cry from the early days of the pandemic when satisfaction with the NHS soared. As newspapers filled with images of valiant healthcare workers and rainbows were repurposed to show support for our beleaguered healthcare system, the NHS enjoyed a huge bump in support. ...  Continue reading

by Amy Jones
Monday, 14
March 2022

Britain’s refugee hosts need vetting too

Vulnerable Ukrainians should be protected from exploitation

After spending weeks dithering over how many refugees to accept from Ukraine, the Government has finally announced their landmark “Homes for Ukraine” policy. Rather than a government-led scheme that would enable refugees to live independently in social housing, the policy instead relies on individuals offering their own homes to Ukrainians, and paying them £350 a month to do so.

The scheme has been met with huge public support. According to one survey, nearly one in three Brits said they would be willing to give a struggling Ukrainian refugee a roof over their head.

Some, however, have raised concerns about the scheme. Mark Harper MP, for instance, has warned of Russian sleeper agents who will be waiting for the opportunity to undertake another Salisbury style attack. This is a legitimate worry, but in many ways the Ukrainian refugees are far more at risk from people in Britain. These are, after all, mostly traumatised women and children who may have a limited grasp of the language. In the space of a few weeks, they have found themselves isolated in a strange country, trying to find a home in a stranger’s house. ...  Continue reading

by Amy Jones
Friday, 25
February 2022

Watch out for the Covid to Ukraine expert pivot

Members of the pandemic commentariat are trying to reinvent themselves

Less than two days after all of the UK’s remaining Covid restrictions were lifted, the news cycle has already moved on. And with it, so have the commentators.

After two years spent tirelessly opining on all things Covid, it might be tempting to believe that the Covid commentators would take this opportunity for a well-earned rest. But as quickly as the headlines moved on to the situation in Ukraine, the Covid pundits followed suit. Deftly switching from discussions on herd immunity, variants, and vaccine efficacy, Twitter feeds were quickly filled with threads about the comparative nuclear capabilities of Russia and the US, demands to shut down Russia Today — Russia’s state owned media channel — coupled with a history lesson of Russia and complaints that the UK government was doing nothing ...  Continue reading

1 2 3 6