Tag Archives: been

I’ve been an NHS doctor for five years. The Home Office wants to deport me

A year ago I had a stable job working as a trainee GP in Greater Manchester and was due to qualify in February this year. I was in a relationship, had my own car and everything was great.

But for the last eight months my life has been a living hell.

My troubles began towards the end of last year when I applied for indefinite leave to remain in the UK. I am from Singapore. I was five months away from qualifying as a GP and had studied medicine at Manchester University, starting as a doctor in the NHS in 2012.

I booked an appointment and paid for it before my visa ran out. I thought that was fine. In reality, the application is made when you attend the appointment, by which time my visa had been invalid for 18 days. I was refused residency for that reason, and since then it’s been a battle to reverse the decision. An immigration judge ruled that it “would not be proportionate” to remove me; the Home Office lodged an appeal. My lawyer told me on Friday morning it is reconsidering my original application.

Everything flies in the face of common sense. NHS England is paying £100m to recruitment agencies to get GPs to work in England and here I am, five months away from becoming a GP, and I’m being kicked out. Meanwhile, demand in the NHS is rising and GP numbers are falling.

I haven’t been allowed to work since the initial appointment. When I was told, my first thought was: “What am I going to do about all the patients I’ve booked next week? Who is going to see them?”

I’m not entitled to benefits so I’ve been living off my savings and help from my parents.

My mental health has deteriorated. There have been days when I’ve woken at 5am, my heart racing, and thought: “What should I do? Are they going to deport me? Am I going to be detained?” It was constantly on my mind. It placed a lot of strain on my relationship, which has now ended, party because of the stress.


I chose general practice because I like having the time to sit with patients and build up a relationship

Everything has ground to a halt. It takes a lot to be resilient and say I’m going to carry on regardless of what happens. If I can’t finish my training, everything will have been for nothing. I would have to go to another country – Singapore or Australia – and start over again as a trainee.

I’ve loved the UK since I visited as a child. When it came to university, my mind was set on the UK. I chose general practice because I like having the time to sit with patients and build up a relationship. It’s always nice to see what happens to them.

I remember learning about the NHS at school in Singapore. It’s this massive institution that takes care of you from when you’re born to your very last days. You always have to pay something for healthcare in Singapore. The NHS is amazing – it is unimaginable in other countries to have a system that gives you what you need, when you need it. I’m so proud to have worked for it.

I feel I have a personal debt to the NHS. It has invested in me – it costs hundreds of thousands of pounds to train a GP (pdf) from medical school through to qualification. Some of that I’ve paid for but I’m immensely grateful. I really want to be able to contribute and give back to the NHS.

Dr Ong has started a petition asking the Home Office to reconsider

Join the Healthcare Professionals Network to read more pieces like this. And follow us on Twitter (@GdnHealthcare) to keep up with the latest healthcare news and views

If you’re looking for a healthcare job or need to recruit staff, visit Guardian Jobs

I’ve been an NHS doctor for five years. The Home Office wants to deport me

A year ago I had a stable job working as a trainee GP in Greater Manchester and was due to qualify in February this year. I was in a relationship, had my own car and everything was great.

But for the last eight months my life has been a living hell.

My troubles began towards the end of last year when I applied for indefinite leave to remain in the UK. I am from Singapore. I was five months away from qualifying as a GP and had studied medicine at Manchester University, starting as a doctor in the NHS in 2012.

I booked an appointment and paid for it before my visa ran out. I thought that was fine. In reality, the application is made when you attend the appointment, by which time my visa had been invalid for 18 days. I was refused residency for that reason, and since then it’s been a battle to reverse the decision. An immigration judge ruled that it “would not be proportionate” to remove me; the Home Office lodged an appeal. My lawyer told me on Friday morning it is reconsidering my original application.

Everything flies in the face of common sense. NHS England is paying £100m to recruitment agencies to get GPs to work in England and here I am, five months away from becoming a GP, and I’m being kicked out. Meanwhile, demand in the NHS is rising and GP numbers are falling.

I haven’t been allowed to work since the initial appointment. When I was told, my first thought was: “What am I going to do about all the patients I’ve booked next week? Who is going to see them?”

I’m not entitled to benefits so I’ve been living off my savings and help from my parents.

My mental health has deteriorated. There have been days when I’ve woken at 5am, my heart racing, and thought: “What should I do? Are they going to deport me? Am I going to be detained?” It was constantly on my mind. It placed a lot of strain on my relationship, which has now ended, party because of the stress.


I chose general practice because I like having the time to sit with patients and build up a relationship

Everything has ground to a halt. It takes a lot to be resilient and say I’m going to carry on regardless of what happens. If I can’t finish my training, everything will have been for nothing. I would have to go to another country – Singapore or Australia – and start over again as a trainee.

I’ve loved the UK since I visited as a child. When it came to university, my mind was set on the UK. I chose general practice because I like having the time to sit with patients and build up a relationship. It’s always nice to see what happens to them.

I remember learning about the NHS at school in Singapore. It’s this massive institution that takes care of you from when you’re born to your very last days. You always have to pay something for healthcare in Singapore. The NHS is amazing – it is unimaginable in other countries to have a system that gives you what you need, when you need it. I’m so proud to have worked for it.

I feel I have a personal debt to the NHS. It has invested in me – it costs hundreds of thousands of pounds to train a GP (pdf) from medical school through to qualification. Some of that I’ve paid for but I’m immensely grateful. I really want to be able to contribute and give back to the NHS.

Dr Ong has started a petition asking the Home Office to reconsider

Join the Healthcare Professionals Network to read more pieces like this. And follow us on Twitter (@GdnHealthcare) to keep up with the latest healthcare news and views

If you’re looking for a healthcare job or need to recruit staff, visit Guardian Jobs

I’ve been an NHS doctor for five years. The Home Office wants to deport me

A year ago I had a stable job working as a trainee GP in Greater Manchester and was due to qualify in February this year. I was in a relationship, had my own car and everything was great.

But for the last eight months my life has been a living hell.

My troubles began towards the end of last year when I applied for indefinite leave to remain in the UK. I am from Singapore. I was five months away from qualifying as a GP and had studied medicine at Manchester University, starting as a doctor in the NHS in 2012.

I booked an appointment and paid for it before my visa ran out. I thought that was fine. In reality, the application is made when you attend the appointment, by which time my visa had been invalid for 18 days. I was refused residency for that reason, and since then it’s been a battle to reverse the decision. An immigration judge ruled that it “would not be proportionate” to remove me; the Home Office lodged an appeal. My lawyer told me on Friday morning it is reconsidering my original application.

Everything flies in the face of common sense. NHS England is paying £100m to recruitment agencies to get GPs to work in England and here I am, five months away from becoming a GP, and I’m being kicked out. Meanwhile, demand in the NHS is rising and GP numbers are falling.

I haven’t been allowed to work since the initial appointment. When I was told, my first thought was: “What am I going to do about all the patients I’ve booked next week? Who is going to see them?”

I’m not entitled to benefits so I’ve been living off my savings and help from my parents.

My mental health has deteriorated. There have been days when I’ve woken at 5am, my heart racing, and thought: “What should I do? Are they going to deport me? Am I going to be detained?” It was constantly on my mind. It placed a lot of strain on my relationship, which has now ended, party because of the stress.


I chose general practice because I like having the time to sit with patients and build up a relationship

Everything has ground to a halt. It takes a lot to be resilient and say I’m going to carry on regardless of what happens. If I can’t finish my training, everything will have been for nothing. I would have to go to another country – Singapore or Australia – and start over again as a trainee.

I’ve loved the UK since I visited as a child. When it came to university, my mind was set on the UK. I chose general practice because I like having the time to sit with patients and build up a relationship. It’s always nice to see what happens to them.

I remember learning about the NHS at school in Singapore. It’s this massive institution that takes care of you from when you’re born to your very last days. You always have to pay something for healthcare in Singapore. The NHS is amazing – it is unimaginable in other countries to have a system that gives you what you need, when you need it. I’m so proud to have worked for it.

I feel I have a personal debt to the NHS. It has invested in me – it costs hundreds of thousands of pounds to train a GP (pdf) from medical school through to qualification. Some of that I’ve paid for but I’m immensely grateful. I really want to be able to contribute and give back to the NHS.

Dr Ong has started a petition asking the Home Office to reconsider

Join the Healthcare Professionals Network to read more pieces like this. And follow us on Twitter (@GdnHealthcare) to keep up with the latest healthcare news and views

If you’re looking for a healthcare job or need to recruit staff, visit Guardian Jobs

I’ve been an NHS doctor for five years. The Home Office wants to deport me

A year ago I had a stable job working as a trainee GP in Greater Manchester and was due to qualify in February this year. I was in a relationship, had my own car and everything was great.

But for the last eight months my life has been a living hell.

My troubles began towards the end of last year when I applied for indefinite leave to remain in the UK. I am from Singapore. I was five months away from qualifying as a GP and had studied medicine at Manchester University, starting as a doctor in the NHS in 2012.

I booked an appointment and paid for it before my visa ran out. I thought that was fine. In reality, the application is made when you attend the appointment, by which time my visa had been invalid for 18 days. I was refused residency for that reason, and since then it’s been a battle to reverse the decision. An immigration judge ruled that it “would not be proportionate” to remove me; the Home Office lodged an appeal. My lawyer told me on Friday morning it is reconsidering my original application.

Everything flies in the face of common sense. NHS England is paying £100m to recruitment agencies to get GPs to work in England and here I am, five months away from becoming a GP, and I’m being kicked out. Meanwhile, demand in the NHS is rising and GP numbers are falling.

I haven’t been allowed to work since the initial appointment. When I was told, my first thought was: “What am I going to do about all the patients I’ve booked next week? Who is going to see them?”

I’m not entitled to benefits so I’ve been living off my savings and help from my parents.

My mental health has deteriorated. There have been days when I’ve woken at 5am, my heart racing, and thought: “What should I do? Are they going to deport me? Am I going to be detained?” It was constantly on my mind. It placed a lot of strain on my relationship, which has now ended, party because of the stress.


I chose general practice because I like having the time to sit with patients and build up a relationship

Everything has ground to a halt. It takes a lot to be resilient and say I’m going to carry on regardless of what happens. If I can’t finish my training, everything will have been for nothing. I would have to go to another country – Singapore or Australia – and start over again as a trainee.

I’ve loved the UK since I visited as a child. When it came to university, my mind was set on the UK. I chose general practice because I like having the time to sit with patients and build up a relationship. It’s always nice to see what happens to them.

I remember learning about the NHS at school in Singapore. It’s this massive institution that takes care of you from when you’re born to your very last days. You always have to pay something for healthcare in Singapore. The NHS is amazing – it is unimaginable in other countries to have a system that gives you what you need, when you need it. I’m so proud to have worked for it.

I feel I have a personal debt to the NHS. It has invested in me – it costs hundreds of thousands of pounds to train a GP (pdf) from medical school through to qualification. Some of that I’ve paid for but I’m immensely grateful. I really want to be able to contribute and give back to the NHS.

Dr Ong has started a petition asking the Home Office to reconsider

Join the Healthcare Professionals Network to read more pieces like this. And follow us on Twitter (@GdnHealthcare) to keep up with the latest healthcare news and views

If you’re looking for a healthcare job or need to recruit staff, visit Guardian Jobs

I’ve been an NHS doctor for five years. The Home Office wants to deport me

A year ago I had a stable job working as a trainee GP in Greater Manchester and was due to qualify in February this year. I was in a relationship, had my own car and everything was great.

But for the last eight months my life has been a living hell.

My troubles began towards the end of last year when I applied for indefinite leave to remain in the UK. I am from Singapore. I was five months away from qualifying as a GP and had studied medicine at Manchester University, starting as a doctor in the NHS in 2012.

I booked an appointment and paid for it before my visa ran out. I thought that was fine. In reality, the application is made when you attend the appointment, by which time my visa had been invalid for 18 days. I was refused residency for that reason, and since then it’s been a battle to reverse the decision. An immigration judge ruled that it “would not be proportionate” to remove me; the Home Office lodged an appeal. My lawyer told me on Friday morning it is reconsidering my original application.

Everything flies in the face of common sense. NHS England is paying £100m to recruitment agencies to get GPs to work in England and here I am, five months away from becoming a GP, and I’m being kicked out. Meanwhile, demand in the NHS is rising and GP numbers are falling.

I haven’t been allowed to work since the initial appointment. When I was told, my first thought was: “What am I going to do about all the patients I’ve booked next week? Who is going to see them?”

I’m not entitled to benefits so I’ve been living off my savings and help from my parents.

My mental health has deteriorated. There have been days when I’ve woken at 5am, my heart racing, and thought: “What should I do? Are they going to deport me? Am I going to be detained?” It was constantly on my mind. It placed a lot of strain on my relationship, which has now ended, party because of the stress.


I chose general practice because I like having the time to sit with patients and build up a relationship

Everything has ground to a halt. It takes a lot to be resilient and say I’m going to carry on regardless of what happens. If I can’t finish my training, everything will have been for nothing. I would have to go to another country – Singapore or Australia – and start over again as a trainee.

I’ve loved the UK since I visited as a child. When it came to university, my mind was set on the UK. I chose general practice because I like having the time to sit with patients and build up a relationship. It’s always nice to see what happens to them.

I remember learning about the NHS at school in Singapore. It’s this massive institution that takes care of you from when you’re born to your very last days. You always have to pay something for healthcare in Singapore. The NHS is amazing – it is unimaginable in other countries to have a system that gives you what you need, when you need it. I’m so proud to have worked for it.

I feel I have a personal debt to the NHS. It has invested in me – it costs hundreds of thousands of pounds to train a GP (pdf) from medical school through to qualification. Some of that I’ve paid for but I’m immensely grateful. I really want to be able to contribute and give back to the NHS.

Dr Ong has started a petition asking the Home Office to reconsider

Join the Healthcare Professionals Network to read more pieces like this. And follow us on Twitter (@GdnHealthcare) to keep up with the latest healthcare news and views

If you’re looking for a healthcare job or need to recruit staff, visit Guardian Jobs

Doctors knew my son was suicidal. I should have been told before he died

Three years back I joined a club no one wants to be a member of. I became a parent who lost their child to suicide. He was 20. I didn’t think it was possible. I trusted his doctors to take good care of him. I trusted they would tell me if there was a real risk of him dying, given I was his mother and prime carer. I thought they had the expertise to identify and address a crisis when they saw it. Suicide was not in the script.

I turn the events around his sudden death over and over in my head, and it makes no sense. He had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder 10 weeks before he died. Initially his response to medication was good but then he plunged into a deep dark depression, which I thought was being managed by his GP. All this time, he lived at home with me. None of the medical staff mentioned the word “suicide” at any stage.

When the coroner’s inquest was a couple of months away, a big brown envelope of medical and other documents arrived in the post. I was afraid to open it for fear of the poison that might spill out. After a few days of preparing myself, I sat down with the envelope on a groundsheet in the sun.

Sagaar Mahajan


‘Three years ago, I became a parent who lost their child (Sagaar pictured) to suicide.’ Photograph: Sangeeta Mahajan

One of the many white A4 sheets was a photocopy of a health questionnaire, filled out and signed by my son two weeks before his death. It was designed to evaluate his state of mind over the two preceding weeks.

It showed that his depression was the worst it could be, his score was the highest it could be.

My brain froze. He had been feeling severely depressed and suicidal for at least a month before he could take it no more. He wrote it down, but couldn’t talk about it.

My son had been on antidepressants for two weeks at that point. We were told they would start working after three to four weeks. He was given a slip of paper advising him to go to A&E or call the Samaritans in case of crisis. It was like sending someone with crushing chest pain home with paracetamol.


A father was told by the GP: ‘Now that your son’s dead, I can tell you this wasn’t his first attempt at ending his life.

The shock of this revelation paralysed me. I took a deep breath before collapsing into a puddle on the floor, mourning the unnecessary loss of my son who asked for help but didn’t get it; who suffered silently while waiting for someone to understand him; who died alone on a cold day feeling worthless and hopeless. He didn’t deserve this.

There are hundreds of distraught and bewildered families like mine in this club whose stories have a common thread. A father told by the family doctor, “Now that your son is dead, I can tell you this was not his first attempt at ending his life.” Another parent said: “The GP knew our child wanted to end his life but they didn’t discuss that with us even though he was a minor.” Before ending his life, one young man had asked a mental health nurse to let his mother know that he was suicidal. She didn’t.

The first step in reducing risk is to ask about suicidal thoughts. Responses, however minor, require a compassionate, competent and timely response from clinicians. Safety planning comes next and is a collaborative process where patient and medical professional devise strategies for what to do when the ideas of suicide take hold. Then it is a matter of establishing a network of support with friends, family and the community as an essential part of keeping people safe for now and the future.

I was denied the chance to be there for my son when he needed me the most. My son’s answers to medical experts were largely ignored. I have found that suicide is a taboo subject not only in our society but also within the medical profession.

The doctor declared “suicides are not predictable or preventable” at the coroner’s inquest. His other argument was professional obligation of patient confidentiality.

Is confidentiality more important than helping someone at risk to stay alive?

“First do no harm” is a basic principle of medical practice. The Department of Health published a statement entitled Information sharing and suicide prevention in 2014. It states that practitioners should disclose relevant confidential information to an appropriate person – including family or friends – or authority to protect a vulnerable person from risk of death or serious harm.

Four years on, information is still not being shared with those best placed to help a suicidal person. Now, when there is a huge emphasis on care in the community, this is more important than ever before. The inadequacy of mental health services to cope with increased demand is worsened by a huge shortage of funds, psychiatrists and inpatient beds. A report published in 2015 said that unpaid carers save the government £132bn a year. They are a valuable resource if acknowledged as such.

The world of medicine is conservative and defensive. The GMC, Royal Colleges and NHS trusts should reassure practitioners that their decision to share information appropriately will be supported by them.

As a consultant anaesthetist working at a leading teaching hospital in central London, every day I am part of the extreme measures taken to save lives of patients with physical illnesses. Yet, healthy young people are allowed to die in the community from preventable causes in dire circumstances.

Confidentiality versus life. It’s a no-brainer.

  • In the UK the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international suicide helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.

Join the Healthcare Professionals Network to read more pieces like this. And follow us on Twitter (@GdnHealthcare) to keep up with the latest healthcare news and views

If you’re looking for a healthcare job or need to recruit staff, visit Guardian Jobs

Doctors knew my son was suicidal. I should have been told before he died

Three years back I joined a club no one wants to be a member of. I became a parent who lost their child to suicide. He was 20. I didn’t think it was possible. I trusted his doctors to take good care of him. I trusted they would tell me if there was a real risk of him dying, given I was his mother and prime carer. I thought they had the expertise to identify and address a crisis when they saw it. Suicide was not in the script.

I turn the events around his sudden death over and over in my head, and it makes no sense. He had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder 10 weeks before he died. Initially his response to medication was good but then he plunged into a deep dark depression, which I thought was being managed by his GP. All this time, he lived at home with me. None of the medical staff mentioned the word “suicide” at any stage.

When the coroner’s inquest was a couple of months away, a big brown envelope of medical and other documents arrived in the post. I was afraid to open it for fear of the poison that might spill out. After a few days of preparing myself, I sat down with the envelope on a groundsheet in the sun.

Sagaar Mahajan


‘Three years ago, I became a parent who lost their child (Sagaar pictured) to suicide.’ Photograph: Sangeeta Mahajan

One of the many white A4 sheets was a photocopy of a health questionnaire, filled out and signed by my son two weeks before his death. It was designed to evaluate his state of mind over the two preceding weeks.

It showed that his depression was the worst it could be, his score was the highest it could be.

My brain froze. He had been feeling severely depressed and suicidal for at least a month before he could take it no more. He wrote it down, but couldn’t talk about it.

My son had been on antidepressants for two weeks at that point. We were told they would start working after three to four weeks. He was given a slip of paper advising him to go to A&E or call the Samaritans in case of crisis. It was like sending someone with crushing chest pain home with paracetamol.


A father was told by the GP: ‘Now that your son’s dead, I can tell you this wasn’t his first attempt at ending his life.

The shock of this revelation paralysed me. I took a deep breath before collapsing into a puddle on the floor, mourning the unnecessary loss of my son who asked for help but didn’t get it; who suffered silently while waiting for someone to understand him; who died alone on a cold day feeling worthless and hopeless. He didn’t deserve this.

There are hundreds of distraught and bewildered families like mine in this club whose stories have a common thread. A father told by the family doctor, “Now that your son is dead, I can tell you this was not his first attempt at ending his life.” Another parent said: “The GP knew our child wanted to end his life but they didn’t discuss that with us even though he was a minor.” Before ending his life, one young man had asked a mental health nurse to let his mother know that he was suicidal. She didn’t.

The first step in reducing risk is to ask about suicidal thoughts. Responses, however minor, require a compassionate, competent and timely response from clinicians. Safety planning comes next and is a collaborative process where patient and medical professional devise strategies for what to do when the ideas of suicide take hold. Then it is a matter of establishing a network of support with friends, family and the community as an essential part of keeping people safe for now and the future.

I was denied the chance to be there for my son when he needed me the most. My son’s answers to medical experts were largely ignored. I have found that suicide is a taboo subject not only in our society but also within the medical profession.

The doctor declared “suicides are not predictable or preventable” at the coroner’s inquest. His other argument was professional obligation of patient confidentiality.

Is confidentiality more important than helping someone at risk to stay alive?

“First do no harm” is a basic principle of medical practice. The Department of Health published a statement entitled Information sharing and suicide prevention in 2014. It states that practitioners should disclose relevant confidential information to an appropriate person – including family or friends – or authority to protect a vulnerable person from risk of death or serious harm.

Four years on, information is still not being shared with those best placed to help a suicidal person. Now, when there is a huge emphasis on care in the community, this is more important than ever before. The inadequacy of mental health services to cope with increased demand is worsened by a huge shortage of funds, psychiatrists and inpatient beds. A report published in 2015 said that unpaid carers save the government £132bn a year. They are a valuable resource if acknowledged as such.

The world of medicine is conservative and defensive. The GMC, Royal Colleges and NHS trusts should reassure practitioners that their decision to share information appropriately will be supported by them.

As a consultant anaesthetist working at a leading teaching hospital in central London, every day I am part of the extreme measures taken to save lives of patients with physical illnesses. Yet, healthy young people are allowed to die in the community from preventable causes in dire circumstances.

Confidentiality versus life. It’s a no-brainer.

  • In the UK the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international suicide helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.

Join the Healthcare Professionals Network to read more pieces like this. And follow us on Twitter (@GdnHealthcare) to keep up with the latest healthcare news and views

If you’re looking for a healthcare job or need to recruit staff, visit Guardian Jobs

Why Ribena fans have been left with a bad taste in their mouths

Name: Ribena.

Appearance: Purple.

Origin: A wartime vitamin C supplement for children, named after the blackcurrant plant (AKA Ribes nigrum).

Taste: Here, try some.

Mmm, thanks. I love Ri … Yeurgh! What’s that? Ribena.

But Ribena combines the natural sharpness of blackcurrants with the natural sweetness of a lorryful of sugar. This stuff’s just weird. Well, it has been quietly reformulated recently. Some people did notice a new flavour profile.

It tastes like a robot’s armpit. Yes, not everyone likes it at first. Suntory, the Japanese megacorporation that owns Ribena, has replaced a lot of the sugar with the sweeteners acesulfame K and sucralose. And it has added polydextrose, a soluble fibre, to keep it gloopy.

Why would they do a crazy thing like that? It’s called the soft drinks industry levy, and it comes into force on 6 April. It makes drinks companies pay a tax for adding sugar.

Hey! I like sugar. I know, I know. We all like sugar. That’s the problem. We consume too much of it, particularly in drinks, which don’t have to be sugary at all.

But sugary drinks are nice! And obesity isn’t. So you take your choice. The British Medical Association thinks the levy is the way to go.

Oh, them. They’re always like, “Let’s cure you of this … avoid dying of that … Ribena is worse than anthrax.” I’m not sure they would go that far. Drinks companies had to decide whether to pay the tax – which means less profit or higher prices – or to reformulate, which is what Ribena did, along with Lucozade, Irn-Bru, Robinsons Fruit Shoot and others.

Yeah, but acesulfame K? Sucralose? Those sound like chemicals. Don’t chemicals give you cancer? Those don’t, according to all the evidence. But being obese increases your risk. And it gives you a lot of other nasty things as well.

How about polydextrose? The internet says it can cause bloating, farting and soggy poos. Well, it’s fibre, so … yeah, maybe. But I doubt there’s enough in a glass of Ribena.

I think you’re missing the point. Ribena used to be yummy. It also used to be 29% sugar. Now it’s 13%.

Still, they could have warned us. How?

With a big advertising campaign saying they were about to make their product taste worse. Ribena must have decided against that. I didn’t notice any other companies doing it either.

In that case, I’m going to boycott all sweet drinks. I’ll just drink tap water when I’m thirsty. That’s kind of the idea …

Do say: “It’s all been downhill since they took the cocaine out of Coca-Cola.”

Don’t say: “We’ll always have coffee.”

Will Self: ‘I’m fitter than I’ve ever been’

The novelist, 56, on the health benefits of eating less and walking more

Will Self


‘You’ve got to make your peace with getting older. It’s the key to good mental health in later years’: Will Self. Photograph: Rex

When I was a child and my parents separated, I went on walking holidays with my dad. My rubric’s always been to walk from home – I’m not a rambler. It’s about a sense of being and place and engagement with the environment around me.

I like wild swimming, particularly in the sea – I swim out, then float and look at the horizon. I think that’s extremely good for the imagination. I still cycle even though I was knocked off my bike a few years ago, but mostly in the summer – it’s too dangerous in the winter in London.

I’m on meds for a blood condition, which lowers my immunity so I can get a bit snippy with people if they’re breathing snot in my face. I’ll say: ‘Look, it’s really not great for me to get a cold.’

At 56, I’m up a few times in the night because of prostatitis. I have terrible trouble sleeping and I’m guilty of all the things we tell our children not to do – I stay online, I have my phone next to the bed as I’m concerned about my kids and want them to reach me.

You’ve got to make your peace with getting older. It’s the key to good mental health in later years. In adjusting to it lies a great deal of acceptance of mortality and the reality of your life.

I’m not 100% vegetarian, I’m that awful thing they call a flexitarian. I will have a bit of fish or meat because there’s nothing else available. Red meat just started to look unappealing. The ethical stuff is secondary to an aesthetic reaction to it. It’s eating a corpse and having it rotting inside you.

I’m an unlikely health guru what with 20 years of serious polysubstance abuse, but all things being equal I’ve had a healthy life of being Dorian Gray – my fittest years were my 40s, everything went into reverse. All you have to do is walk a bit more and eat a bit less and you’ll be fine. And don’t smoke.

Phone by Will Self (Penguin, £8.99) is published on 1 March

Will Self: ‘I’m fitter than I’ve ever been’

The novelist, 56, on the health benefits of eating less and walking more

Will Self


‘You’ve got to make your peace with getting older. It’s the key to good mental health in later years’: Will Self. Photograph: Rex

When I was a child and my parents separated, I went on walking holidays with my dad. My rubric’s always been to walk from home – I’m not a rambler. It’s about a sense of being and place and engagement with the environment around me.

I like wild swimming, particularly in the sea – I swim out, then float and look at the horizon. I think that’s extremely good for the imagination. I still cycle even though I was knocked off my bike a few years ago, but mostly in the summer – it’s too dangerous in the winter in London.

I’m on meds for a blood condition, which lowers my immunity so I can get a bit snippy with people if they’re breathing snot in my face. I’ll say: ‘Look, it’s really not great for me to get a cold.’

At 56, I’m up a few times in the night because of prostatitis. I have terrible trouble sleeping and I’m guilty of all the things we tell our children not to do – I stay online, I have my phone next to the bed as I’m concerned about my kids and want them to reach me.

You’ve got to make your peace with getting older. It’s the key to good mental health in later years. In adjusting to it lies a great deal of acceptance of mortality and the reality of your life.

I’m not 100% vegetarian, I’m that awful thing they call a flexitarian. I will have a bit of fish or meat because there’s nothing else available. Red meat just started to look unappealing. The ethical stuff is secondary to an aesthetic reaction to it. It’s eating a corpse and having it rotting inside you.

I’m an unlikely health guru what with 20 years of serious polysubstance abuse, but all things being equal I’ve had a healthy life of being Dorian Gray – my fittest years were my 40s, everything went into reverse. All you have to do is walk a bit more and eat a bit less and you’ll be fine. And don’t smoke.

Phone by Will Self (Penguin, £8.99) is published on 1 March