Tag Archives: Live

How can we make healthcare a better place for women to work? Live event

The NHS is the UK’s biggest employer, with a workforce of of 1.7 million people across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, 77% of whom are women.

While healthcare is seen as a good place for women to work, many in the sector feel there is a glass ceiling. Despite women making up more than three-quarters of all NHS staff, they are still in the minority in senior roles. Healthcare professionals have also raised concerns about whether it is possible to strike a good work-life balance.

The Guardian is hosting a discussion and networking event to consider how to make healthcare a better place for women to work.

The event will take place at the Guardian’s London offices from 6pm on Thursday 12 July. Our panel of speakers will debate, among other things:

  • Is there a glass ceiling in the NHS? If so, what is causing it?
  • What are the barriers to flexible working and why do these disproportionately affect women?
  • Are women underrepresented in any roles or specialisms? What is being done to bring women into these professions?
  • Could employers do more in terms of professional support and mentoring to ensure women develop in their careers?
  • What are the benefits to the NHS and patients in being a more representative employer at all levels?
  • Do women need to leave the NHS to fulfil ambitions in healthcare? Are there employers beyond the NHS that are able to be more flexible?

The event is aimed at healthcare professionals – men and women – and while it is free, please be aware that space is limited. If you’d like to attend, please fill in the form below. Those who have been successful will receive an email to confirm their place.

The panel

Samantha Jones, director of the new care models programme, NHS England
Dido Harding, Baroness Harding of Winscombe, chair, NHS Improvement

Further panellists and discussion chair to be announced

Programme

6pm-6.45pm: Attendee arrival, registration, refreshments, networking

6.45pm-6.50pm: Chair’s welcome

6.50pm-7.40pm: Panel discussion

7.40pm-7.55pm: Audience Q&A

7.55pm-8pm: Chair closing comments

8pm-8.45pm: Networking and mentor partnering

8.45pm: Event ends, goody bags handed out

Senior Tory tells May any NHS funding increase worth less than 4% could be ‘disastrous’ – Politics live

In an article in this week’s Spectator Fraser Nelson, the magazine’s editor, and James Forsyth, its political editor, claim the government is planning to announce a 3% increase in NHS spending around the time of its 70th anniversary in July. They say:

[Simon Stevens, the NHS England chief executive] is about to get what he demanded. Theresa May plans to give the NHS a present, ahead of its 70th birthday in July — a settlement of 3% extra a year, which would mean that by the next election NHS spending would be £350 million a week more than it is today. This means, much to [Philip] Hammond’s rage, that the famous Brexit bus pledge is to be honoured — though not of course with money saved by leaving the EU.

Stevens, ever wily, now wants the figure to be closer to 4%, and for the next decade. Hammond, a political realist, has accepted the case for giving significantly more money to the NHS. But the Treasury prefers an increase of around 3% and for five years, not ten. Nor has Hammond agreed that this sum ought to be dressed up as an NHS birthday present.

According to the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg, this increase has not yet been agreed, and there is talk of the increase in NHS spending being as low as 2% a year.

But even if the Spectator is right, and 3% is on the cards, May has been told this morning that this would not be enough. In fact, Sarah Wollaston, the Conservative MP and GP who chairs the Commons health committee, suggested on the Today programme that any increase less than 4% could be “disastrous”. She said:

The difficulty would be if [the government] make a funding announcement that is way below expectations, I think that would be disastrous. The figure we are hearing touted today, of 3%, that simply wouldn’t be high enough.

If we look at the long-term average since the start of the NHS, that’s been around 3.7%. And what we are hearing very clearly from today’s report is that we need a longterm average of 4%, and if possible more in the short term, to make up for the eight long years where we’ve had the longest squeeze in the NHS’s history.

By “today’s report”, she was referring to the report (pdf) from the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Health Foundation saying the NHS needs a funding increase of around 4% just to secure “modest improvements”. We’ve splashed on the report.

Paul Johnson (@paul__johnson)

Cost of NHS that can cope:
-£2k tax every household.
The choice
-Tomorrow’s Guardian pic.twitter.com/0hXt6iHEE8

May 23, 2018

And here’s our story.

On the Today programme Wollaston said that a 3.3% increase in NHS funding (what the Specatator says is being planned) would just be enough to “stay where we are”. She went on:

If we want to improve services, we’re looking at 5% in the immediate few years, and 4% as a longterm average. And I think the government should look very seriously at these figures.

She also said she thought the public would be willing to pay more in tax to fund an increase in NHS spending.

Wollaston’s demand for a 5% increase in spending in the short term echoes what the IFS/Health Foundation report says. Here is an extract from the news release summarising its findings. (Their bold type, not mine.)

To secure some modest improvements in NHS services, funding increases of nearer 4% a year would be required over the medium term, with 5% annual increases in the short run. This would allow some immediate catch-up, enable waiting time targets to be met, and tackle some of the underfunding in mental health services. This would take spending in 2033–34 to 9.9% of national income, an increase of 2.6% of national income relative to 2018–19.

At the same time, pressures on social care spending are increasing and, if we continue with something like the current funding arrangements, adult social care spending is likely to have to rise by 3.9% a year over the next 15 years taking an extra 0.4% of national income, relative to today.

Put these figures together and health and social care spending is likely to have to rise by 2–3% of national income over the next 15 years.

I expect there will be more on this as the day goes on. But there is a lot else around, including Brexit developments.

Here is the agenda for the day.

After 10.30am: Andrea Leadsom, the leader of the Commons, will make her weekly business statement. She is expected to announce when MPs will debate the Lords amendments to the EU withdrawal bill.

11am: Jeremy Corbyn gives a speech at Queen’s University, Belfast. As Pippa Crerar and Jessica Elgot report, he will call on Theresa May to reconvene the British-Irish intergovernmental conference, set up under the Good Friday Agreement, to help restore the power-sharing government to Northern Ireland.

1pm: The Commons Brexit committee publishes a report on the Brexit negotiations.

4.15pm: Philip Hammond, the chancellor, gives a speech at the European Business Summit in Brussels.

As usual, I will be covering breaking political news as it happens, as well as bringing you the best reaction, comment and analysis from the web. I plan to post a summary at lunchtime and another in the afternoon.

You can read all today’s Guardian politics stories here.

Here is the Politico Europe round-up of this morning’s political news from Jack Blanchard. And here is the PoliticsHome list of today’ top 10 must reads.

If you want to follow me or contact me on Twitter, I’m on @AndrewSparrow.

I try to monitor the comments BTL but normally I find it impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer direct questions, although sometimes I miss them or don’t have time.

If you want to attract my attention quickly, it is probably better to use Twitter.

Feel the beat: deaf fans fight for access to live music

Growing up among the reggae soundsystems and pirate radio stations of 1980s Hackney, Troi Lee was surrounded by music, “speakers on the street corners blaring”. After getting a Walkman for his 14th birthday, he would wander through his neighbourhood playing songs by Public Enemy on repeat: “It was pure joy,” he says. This passion led Lee to follow in the footsteps of his cousin John and become a DJ. It’s a common enough path – except that Lee was born severely deaf.

Deaf Rave founder Troi Lee.
Deaf Rave founder Troi Lee. Photograph: Vaya Media

With his hearing aids on the telecoil setting, he could hear certain frequencies of his Walkman – the bass vibrations from the percussion and glimpses of lyrics – through a magnetic wireless signal. When DJing, Lee, now 44, uses digital software to visualise the instrumental elements that he mixes together. “We need to reverse the myth that deaf people can’t enjoy music,” Lee says. “I don’t let my deafness affect me. I want to show the world that deaf people can play music just as well as our hearing peers.”

The idea that deafness impedes the appreciation of music is gradually being debunked. In 2013, sign language interpreter Amber Galloway Gallego went viral in the US for her animated performance for rapper Kendrick Lamar at the Lollapalooza festival. Rather than merely signing the words, she embodies musical textures with her face and movements, showcasing a unique technique that she describes as “showing the density of sounds visually”. To represent bass, she places her arms in front of the lower part of her body and inflates her face, replicating the sign for “fat”, while higher frequencies are placed at head height and above. After her performance, US talk show host Jimmy Kimmel took notice, inviting her and fellow interpreters Holly Maniatty and JoAnn Benfield on his show for a “sign language rap battle” in 2014.

[embedded content]

Amber Galloway Gallego signing for Kendrick Lamar at Lollapalooza festival, 2013 – video

Despite some progress, a report by accessibility charity Attitude Is Everything recently stated that in the UK over 80% of deaf and disabled music fans have experienced problems when booking tickets to live music events. The UK’s live music census in February also found that only 30% of surveyed venues have dedicated disabled-access areas and only 7% of surveyed promoters have a policy to provide PA (personal assistant for deaf and disabled customers) tickets as standard. Yet it’s estimated that more than 3.3m deaf and disabled fans attend live music events every year, with a 70% rise in disabled-access ticket sales reported in 2016.

With one in six people suffering from hearing loss in the UK and around one in 1,000 children born profoundly deaf, the lack of accessibility to live music for deaf people is a significant challenge, and deaf fans believe too little is being done to serve their needs. “I don’t go to live shows very often as they’re not that accessible,” says writer Rebecca Withey, who is profoundly deaf. “There is absolutely not enough provision for us, and ironically when some venues do host accessible shows, they don’t promote them well enough for us to find out about them.”

For some fans, difficulties around access can put an end to nights out altogether. “Being ignored by the music industry has made me disengage from live music,” says deaf journalist and film-maker Charlie Swinbourne. Fans say specialist provisions are crucial: interpreting should be as readily available in the UK as it appears to be in the US, says student Liam O’Dell, while Lee believes that “all promoters should allocate a certain number of tickets for deaf and disabled people”.

Clubbers at Troi Lee’s Deaf Rave night.


Clubbers at Troi Lee’s Deaf Rave night. Photograph: Vaya Media

Small steps are being made towards inclusivity: festivals such as Glastonbury and Festival Republic events Reading, Leeds and Latitude all provide BSL interpreting on request. Still, the provision can face obstacles. “When access is permitted it is often done so reluctantly – it is not widely advertised, left unregulated and is often of an inadequate standard,” says Marie Pascall, director of Performance Interpreting, which provides the service for Festival Republic. She describes one instance where “an act refused to have the interpreter on stage, and then refused for the interpreter to sign any of their performance”.

Troi Lee has taken matters into his own hands. In 2003 he founded Deaf Rave, a quarterly event in London designed specifically for deaf clubbers. The inspiration came from his experiences at illegal warehouse parties in the early 1990s, where the speakers amplified the vibrations he had once enjoyed through his Walkman. “It’s something I can’t quite describe,” he says, “the lasers blazing up the place and the biggest soundsystems I have ever seen or felt, shaking the entire warehouse.” From that moment in 1991, he set out to convince the deaf community that clubbing was as much a part of their culture as the hearing world’s. Through heightened bass levels and the use of new technology such as SubPac – a wearable speaker that intensifies vibrations – Lee can make his events immersive.

The organisation celebrates its 15th anniversary this year, but Lee says there is still much to be done. Deaf people are twice as likely to suffer from depression as hearing people. Withey says: “There’s still a huge stigma attached to being a deaf music fan.” Says Lee: “We are one of the most marginalised groups in society, owing to our isolation, unemployment, lack of BSL in mainstream schools and the daily frustrations of communication barriers. We organised Deaf Rave because we have empathy for our community.”

I live a healthier life now I’m free of the trappings of modernity | Mark Boyle

When people learn of my decision to reject modern complex technology in favour of older, slower, forgotten ways, their first line of inquiry usually involves healthcare. Considering its importance to our lives, this is hardly surprising. Yet because of its emotive nature – which of us, after all, doesn’t have friends or family needing glasses, hearing aids, stents or prescription drugs? – it seems difficult to have a calm, objective discussion on the subject.

The more concerned and curious inquirers often ask me what I would do if I got seriously ill. While the long answer is complicated and nuanced, honestly, I don’t know. It’s easy to live by your values when times are good, much harder when you’re having a stroke or dying of cancer.

One thing I can say with more confidence is this: if we continue pursuing this political ideology of mass industrialism – which has given us ambulances, dialysis machines, wheelchairs and antidepressants – not only will we continue to harm our physical, emotional and mental health (leading to even more people needing such things) we’ll also wipe out much of life on Earth.

Industrial civilisation, itself only 200 years old, is already causing the sixth mass extinction of species of the last half billion years. What’s that got to do with an ambulance? Well, both nothing and everything. The ambulance itself undoubtedly saves lives (including my dad’s). Yet deconstruct a single ambulance – with its plastics, oils, fluids, copper, acids, glass, rubber, PVC, minerals and steel – and I’ll show you how to lay waste to the very thing all our lives depend upon: the planet.

Big picture aside, most of what afflicts us today – cancer, obesity, mental illness, diabetes, stress, auto-immune disorders, heart disease, along with those slow killers: meaninglessness, clock-watching and loneliness – are industrial ailments. We create stressful, toxic, unhealthy lifestyles fuelled by sugar, caffeine, tobacco, antidepressants, adrenaline, discontent, energy drinks and fast food, and then defend the political ideology that got us hooked on these things in the first place. Our sedentary jobs further deplete our physical, emotional and mental wellbeing, but instead of honestly addressing the root cause of the illness we exert ever more effort, energy, genius and money trying to treat the symptoms and contain the epidemics.

We’ve developed Stockholm syndrome, sympathising with the very system that has economically held us hostage since the 18th century. Industrialism, along with its partner in crime, capitalism, has even persuaded us that, in order to save ourselves and loved ones from the horrors of disease we should spray every surface with chemicals, keep children’s hands out of the dirt and muck, and try to sterilise our entire world. With our immune systems compromised as a result, multi-billion-dollar pharmaceutical companies then sell us products to fend off what our bodies should be able to fight off naturally.

In their cleverness they have even persuaded us to pop painkillers for things that hardier generations would balk at. My own approach to healthcare won’t satisfy the critics, the advocates of this strange thing called progress that seems to have us all more stressed and less content. And that’s OK; I’m not trying to tell people what to do, and I’ve got no product to sell. I share it only because my editor tells me it’s the most common online inquiry.

In doing so I’m very aware that I’ve been blessed to be born without any serious long-term health issues, and that at 38 I’m relatively young. That said, I’m not convinced that it’s necessary to fall into such poor physical shape, as civilised peoples tend to do. My dad is almost 73 and he can still cycle 150km before dinner, simply because he has never stopped looking after his health.

The philosophy underlying my approach is that of any herbalist: keep the vitality in your body strong, and be mindful to do it every day. When it goes out of ease and into disease, use the appropriate plants – the original source of many industrial medicines – to bring your body and mind back into balance, and to restore optimal functioning. Your body is always aiming for balance and health, and listening to it is one of the best things you can do. Illness is feedback – the sooner you heed it and restore your vitality, the less likely it is you’ll develop more serious problems.

I find it impossible to describe my approach to health without describing my approach to life. I wouldn’t dream of suggesting that this is a prescriptive solution for anyone else; but with the exception of a voluntary vasectomy, I haven’t seen a doctor or nurse for 20 years.

I pick my own fruit and vegetables from the garden and hedgerows, and eat them as fresh, raw and unwashed as is optimal. I cycle 120km each week to lakes and rivers, where I then spend three evenings of that week relaxing and catching the following day’s dinner. I work outdoors, getting sweaty and dirty doing things I enjoy. I made the tough decision to live in the natural world so that I could breathe clean air, drink pure water and create life that allows others the same. I wash with water, and water only. I use no chemicals inside or outside the house. I wear as few clothes as I need, I use nothing electrical – no fridge, no screens, no phone. I avoid sugar, caffeine and stress like the plague.

Sleep comes and goes with the light – I find six hours of peaceful rest sufficient. If and when I do feel ill or out of balance, my girlfriend Kirsty (who illustrates these articles and is teaching herself herbalism) recommends a plant from our herb patch and I slowly feel vital again. She’s currently drying yarrow, horsetail, silverweed, self-heal, calendula and chamomile for the winter months.

I’ve suffered from hay fever – something becoming more common as CO2 levels in the atmosphere increase – since I was a child. These days I eat a handful of plantain leaves – a natural antihistamine – three or four times a day, and that sorts it. Plantain comes out just before hay fever season and goes to seed shortly afterwards, and is a common in the cracks of city pavements and lawns as it is in the countryside.

I appreciate that this may sound unrealistic to many. When I was working 60 hours a week in a low-paid job in the City, 10 years ago, it did to me too. I only managed to do it by stripping away modernity’s bullshit, learning to live with the land, and reducing my bills down to zero. Simplicity in these times is hard won, but I’ve found that it’s worth it.

I can only speak for myself, and I support everyone’s decision to care for their own health as they see fit. Ultimately, we’re all going to die and I wish to go out like the American writer and conservationist Edward Abbey: by taking off to the wilderness, where wildlife can feed on my dead body just as I have done on theirs. It seems only fair.

Two things, in this respect, I find important. One is that like Henry David Thoreau once remarked, I do not safely reach death and “discover that I had not lived”. Second, that I don’t cling to my own fading light so desperately that I extinguish it for all else. Like all good guests, it’s wise not to overstay your welcome.

This article was written by hand and posted to an editor at the Guardian, who typed it up to go online. Get in touch with Mark Boyle, the Guardian’s Living Without Technology columnist, here or in the comments below, a selection of which will be posted to him

I live a healthier life now I’m free of the trappings of modernity | Mark Boyle

When people learn of my decision to reject modern complex technology in favour of older, slower, forgotten ways, their first line of inquiry usually involves healthcare. Considering its importance to our lives, this is hardly surprising. Yet because of its emotive nature – which of us, after all, doesn’t have friends or family needing glasses, hearing aids, stents or prescription drugs? – it seems difficult to have a calm, objective discussion on the subject.

The more concerned and curious inquirers often ask me what I would do if I got seriously ill. While the long answer is complicated and nuanced, honestly, I don’t know. It’s easy to live by your values when times are good, much harder when you’re having a stroke or dying of cancer.

One thing I can say with more confidence is this: if we continue pursuing this political ideology of mass industrialism – which has given us ambulances, dialysis machines, wheelchairs and antidepressants – not only will we continue to harm our physical, emotional and mental health (leading to even more people needing such things) we’ll also wipe out much of life on Earth.

Industrial civilisation, itself only 200 years old, is already causing the sixth mass extinction of species of the last half billion years. What’s that got to do with an ambulance? Well, both nothing and everything. The ambulance itself undoubtedly saves lives (including my dad’s). Yet deconstruct a single ambulance – with its plastics, oils, fluids, copper, acids, glass, rubber, PVC, minerals and steel – and I’ll show you how to lay waste to the very thing all our lives depend upon: the planet.

Big picture aside, most of what afflicts us today – cancer, obesity, mental illness, diabetes, stress, auto-immune disorders, heart disease, along with those slow killers: meaninglessness, clock-watching and loneliness – are industrial ailments. We create stressful, toxic, unhealthy lifestyles fuelled by sugar, caffeine, tobacco, antidepressants, adrenaline, discontent, energy drinks and fast food, and then defend the political ideology that got us hooked on these things in the first place. Our sedentary jobs further deplete our physical, emotional and mental wellbeing, but instead of honestly addressing the root cause of the illness we exert ever more effort, energy, genius and money trying to treat the symptoms and contain the epidemics.

We’ve developed Stockholm syndrome, sympathising with the very system that has economically held us hostage since the 18th century. Industrialism, along with its partner in crime, capitalism, has even persuaded us that, in order to save ourselves and loved ones from the horrors of disease we should spray every surface with chemicals, keep children’s hands out of the dirt and muck, and try to sterilise our entire world. With our immune systems compromised as a result, multi-billion-dollar pharmaceutical companies then sell us products to fend off what our bodies should be able to fight off naturally.

In their cleverness they have even persuaded us to pop painkillers for things that hardier generations would balk at. My own approach to healthcare won’t satisfy the critics, the advocates of this strange thing called progress that seems to have us all more stressed and less content. And that’s OK; I’m not trying to tell people what to do, and I’ve got no product to sell. I share it only because my editor tells me it’s the most common online inquiry.

In doing so I’m very aware that I’ve been blessed to be born without any serious long-term health issues, and that at 38 I’m relatively young. That said, I’m not convinced that it’s necessary to fall into such poor physical shape, as civilised peoples tend to do. My dad is almost 73 and he can still cycle 150km before dinner, simply because he has never stopped looking after his health.

The philosophy underlying my approach is that of any herbalist: keep the vitality in your body strong, and be mindful to do it every day. When it goes out of ease and into disease, use the appropriate plants – the original source of many industrial medicines – to bring your body and mind back into balance, and to restore optimal functioning. Your body is always aiming for balance and health, and listening to it is one of the best things you can do. Illness is feedback – the sooner you heed it and restore your vitality, the less likely it is you’ll develop more serious problems.

I find it impossible to describe my approach to health without describing my approach to life. I wouldn’t dream of suggesting that this is a prescriptive solution for anyone else; but with the exception of a voluntary vasectomy, I haven’t seen a doctor or nurse for 20 years.

I pick my own fruit and vegetables from the garden and hedgerows, and eat them as fresh, raw and unwashed as is optimal. I cycle 120km each week to lakes and rivers, where I then spend three evenings of that week relaxing and catching the following day’s dinner. I work outdoors, getting sweaty and dirty doing things I enjoy. I made the tough decision to live in the natural world so that I could breathe clean air, drink pure water and create life that allows others the same. I wash with water, and water only. I use no chemicals inside or outside the house. I wear as few clothes as I need, I use nothing electrical – no fridge, no screens, no phone. I avoid sugar, caffeine and stress like the plague.

Sleep comes and goes with the light – I find six hours of peaceful rest sufficient. If and when I do feel ill or out of balance, my girlfriend Kirsty (who illustrates these articles and is teaching herself herbalism) recommends a plant from our herb patch and I slowly feel vital again. She’s currently drying yarrow, horsetail, silverweed, self-heal, calendula and chamomile for the winter months.

I’ve suffered from hay fever – something becoming more common as CO2 levels in the atmosphere increase – since I was a child. These days I eat a handful of plantain leaves – a natural antihistamine – three or four times a day, and that sorts it. Plantain comes out just before hay fever season and goes to seed shortly afterwards, and is a common in the cracks of city pavements and lawns as it is in the countryside.

I appreciate that this may sound unrealistic to many. When I was working 60 hours a week in a low-paid job in the City, 10 years ago, it did to me too. I only managed to do it by stripping away modernity’s bullshit, learning to live with the land, and reducing my bills down to zero. Simplicity in these times is hard won, but I’ve found that it’s worth it.

I can only speak for myself, and I support everyone’s decision to care for their own health as they see fit. Ultimately, we’re all going to die and I wish to go out like the American writer and conservationist Edward Abbey: by taking off to the wilderness, where wildlife can feed on my dead body just as I have done on theirs. It seems only fair.

Two things, in this respect, I find important. One is that like Henry David Thoreau once remarked, I do not safely reach death and “discover that I had not lived”. Second, that I don’t cling to my own fading light so desperately that I extinguish it for all else. Like all good guests, it’s wise not to overstay your welcome.

This article was written by hand and posted to an editor at the Guardian, who typed it up to go online. Get in touch with Mark Boyle, the Guardian’s Living Without Technology columnist, here or in the comments below, a selection of which will be posted to him

I live a healthier life now I’m free of the trappings of modernity | Mark Boyle

When people learn of my decision to reject modern complex technology in favour of older, slower, forgotten ways, their first line of inquiry usually involves healthcare. Considering its importance to our lives, this is hardly surprising. Yet because of its emotive nature – which of us, after all, doesn’t have friends or family needing glasses, hearing aids, stents or prescription drugs? – it seems difficult to have a calm, objective discussion on the subject.

The more concerned and curious inquirers often ask me what I would do if I got seriously ill. While the long answer is complicated and nuanced, honestly, I don’t know. It’s easy to live by your values when times are good, much harder when you’re having a stroke or dying of cancer.

One thing I can say with more confidence is this: if we continue pursuing this political ideology of mass industrialism – which has given us ambulances, dialysis machines, wheelchairs and antidepressants – not only will we continue to harm our physical, emotional and mental health (leading to even more people needing such things) we’ll also wipe out much of life on Earth.

Industrial civilisation, itself only 200 years old, is already causing the sixth mass extinction of species of the last half billion years. What’s that got to do with an ambulance? Well, both nothing and everything. The ambulance itself undoubtedly saves lives (including my dad’s). Yet deconstruct a single ambulance – with its plastics, oils, fluids, copper, acids, glass, rubber, PVC, minerals and steel – and I’ll show you how to lay waste to the very thing all our lives depend upon: the planet.

Big picture aside, most of what afflicts us today – cancer, obesity, mental illness, diabetes, stress, auto-immune disorders, heart disease, along with those slow killers: meaninglessness, clock-watching and loneliness – are industrial ailments. We create stressful, toxic, unhealthy lifestyles fuelled by sugar, caffeine, tobacco, antidepressants, adrenaline, discontent, energy drinks and fast food, and then defend the political ideology that got us hooked on these things in the first place. Our sedentary jobs further deplete our physical, emotional and mental wellbeing, but instead of honestly addressing the root cause of the illness we exert ever more effort, energy, genius and money trying to treat the symptoms and contain the epidemics.

We’ve developed Stockholm syndrome, sympathising with the very system that has economically held us hostage since the 18th century. Industrialism, along with its partner in crime, capitalism, has even persuaded us that, in order to save ourselves and loved ones from the horrors of disease we should spray every surface with chemicals, keep children’s hands out of the dirt and muck, and try to sterilise our entire world. With our immune systems compromised as a result, multi-billion-dollar pharmaceutical companies then sell us products to fend off what our bodies should be able to fight off naturally.

In their cleverness they have even persuaded us to pop painkillers for things that hardier generations would balk at. My own approach to healthcare won’t satisfy the critics, the advocates of this strange thing called progress that seems to have us all more stressed and less content. And that’s OK; I’m not trying to tell people what to do, and I’ve got no product to sell. I share it only because my editor tells me it’s the most common online inquiry.

In doing so I’m very aware that I’ve been blessed to be born without any serious long-term health issues, and that at 38 I’m relatively young. That said, I’m not convinced that it’s necessary to fall into such poor physical shape, as civilised peoples tend to do. My dad is almost 73 and he can still cycle 150km before dinner, simply because he has never stopped looking after his health.

The philosophy underlying my approach is that of any herbalist: keep the vitality in your body strong, and be mindful to do it every day. When it goes out of ease and into disease, use the appropriate plants – the original source of many industrial medicines – to bring your body and mind back into balance, and to restore optimal functioning. Your body is always aiming for balance and health, and listening to it is one of the best things you can do. Illness is feedback – the sooner you heed it and restore your vitality, the less likely it is you’ll develop more serious problems.

I find it impossible to describe my approach to health without describing my approach to life. I wouldn’t dream of suggesting that this is a prescriptive solution for anyone else; but with the exception of a voluntary vasectomy, I haven’t seen a doctor or nurse for 20 years.

I pick my own fruit and vegetables from the garden and hedgerows, and eat them as fresh, raw and unwashed as is optimal. I cycle 120km each week to lakes and rivers, where I then spend three evenings of that week relaxing and catching the following day’s dinner. I work outdoors, getting sweaty and dirty doing things I enjoy. I made the tough decision to live in the natural world so that I could breathe clean air, drink pure water and create life that allows others the same. I wash with water, and water only. I use no chemicals inside or outside the house. I wear as few clothes as I need, I use nothing electrical – no fridge, no screens, no phone. I avoid sugar, caffeine and stress like the plague.

Sleep comes and goes with the light – I find six hours of peaceful rest sufficient. If and when I do feel ill or out of balance, my girlfriend Kirsty (who illustrates these articles and is teaching herself herbalism) recommends a plant from our herb patch and I slowly feel vital again. She’s currently drying yarrow, horsetail, silverweed, self-heal, calendula and chamomile for the winter months.

I’ve suffered from hay fever – something becoming more common as CO2 levels in the atmosphere increase – since I was a child. These days I eat a handful of plantain leaves – a natural antihistamine – three or four times a day, and that sorts it. Plantain comes out just before hay fever season and goes to seed shortly afterwards, and is a common in the cracks of city pavements and lawns as it is in the countryside.

I appreciate that this may sound unrealistic to many. When I was working 60 hours a week in a low-paid job in the City, 10 years ago, it did to me too. I only managed to do it by stripping away modernity’s bullshit, learning to live with the land, and reducing my bills down to zero. Simplicity in these times is hard won, but I’ve found that it’s worth it.

I can only speak for myself, and I support everyone’s decision to care for their own health as they see fit. Ultimately, we’re all going to die and I wish to go out like the American writer and conservationist Edward Abbey: by taking off to the wilderness, where wildlife can feed on my dead body just as I have done on theirs. It seems only fair.

Two things, in this respect, I find important. One is that like Henry David Thoreau once remarked, I do not safely reach death and “discover that I had not lived”. Second, that I don’t cling to my own fading light so desperately that I extinguish it for all else. Like all good guests, it’s wise not to overstay your welcome.

This article was written by hand and posted to an editor at the Guardian, who typed it up to go online. Get in touch with Mark Boyle, the Guardian’s Living Without Technology columnist, here or in the comments below, a selection of which will be posted to him

Donated organs of 13-year-old girl help record eight people to live

A 13-year-old girl who died unexpectedly of a brain aneurysm has had her organs transplanted to eight people – the largest number in the history of the organ donation service.

Jemima Layzell was “lovely – clever, funny, compassionate and creative”, said her mother, Sophy Layzell, 43, a drama teacher from Horton in Somerset. Just a couple of weeks before her sudden collapse in March 2012, the family had a conversation about organ donation because a family friend had died in a car crash.

“They were on the register but their organs couldn’t be donated because of the circumstances of their death,” said Sophy. “Jemima had never heard of organ donation before and found it a little bit unsettling, but totally understood the importance of it.”

Her parents found the decision hard, but are glad they made it. Jemima’s heart, small bowel, and pancreas were transplanted into three people. Two people received her kidneys. Her liver was split and transplanted into another two people, while her lungs were transplanted into one patient.

The eight recipients included five children, who came from all over England.

Jemima collapsed during the preparations for her mother’s 38th birthday party and died in hospital four days later. A brain aneurysm, rare in a child, is a swelling in an artery wall and there are no symptoms unless it ruptures. When it bursts, it causes a haemorrhage in the brain which can kill or cause lasting damage.

Her parents set up the Jemima Layzell Trust in her memory to help survivors. “If Jemima had survived, the ruptured aneurysm would have severely affected her communication and the right side of her body,” they say on the trust website.

Her parents went through clothes and possessions, looking for clues as to why she had died so young. They didn’t find them, but they did discover about 20 diaries and notebooks she had been keeping since she was four years old. These they have turned into a book, called The Draft, sales of which will raise funds for the charity.

They tell the story of her brief life.

Saturday 9 July 2011

Dear Diary

It is times like this when I sit and wonder ‘where’s my Romeo? What happened to my Prince Charming?’ But then I stop and think, do I really deserve him?
… I want to leap out of bed, draw back the curtains and gaze out into the night.
To lean out the window, sing for my true love, the love I do not yet
possess and possibly never will. If only I weren’t so afraid.

Monday 8 August 2011

Some people say that God can’t exist because if he did he would help all the poor people in the world.
I object to that. I feel their despair but WE have to help them. They
are there because we did this to them. They are there because we have a
wrong to right. They are there to stop us from turning into complete
monsters before it’s too late.

One extract even foretells the future:

Sunday 7 August 2011

Anyway I need to write what I think and feel. Not all that you see
here actually ‘happened’ but it’s still very real to me. I don’t care if
I let my imagination run away with me!
Plenty of brilliant artists and writers were mad! In fact it made their work more interesting! Even if they did cut their ears off, commit suicide, run round doing crazy stuff etc etc.
People still loved them and their work just the same. And I want to be loved too. I almost feel as though I will never live long enough to become an author, to be married and have a family.

Her mother, her father, Harvey, 49, the manager of a building company, and her sister, Amelia, aged 17, run the Jemima Layzell Trust, which also promotes organ donation. They are proud that Jemima’s organs helped eight other lives continue.

“Shortly after Jemima died, we watched a programme about children awaiting heart transplants and being fitted with Berlin Hearts in Great Ormond Street hospital,” said her mother. “It affirmed for us that saying ‘no’ would have been denying eight other people the chance for life, especially over Jemima’s heart, which Harvey had felt uncomfortable about donating at the time.

“We feel it’s very important for families to talk about organ donation. Every parent’s instinct is to say no, as we are programmed to protect our child. It’s only with prior knowledge of Jemima’s agreement that we were able to say yes.”

NHS Blood and Transplant is hoping Jemima’s story will encourage more families to have the crucial conversation, because a shortage of donated organs is costing hundreds of lives every year, it says.

Last year, 457 people died waiting for a transplant, including 14 children. There are 6,414 people on the transplant waiting list including 176 children.

Anthony Clarkson, of NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “Every donor is special and Jemima’s unique story shows the extraordinary difference a few words can make. Hundreds of people are still dying unnecessarily waiting for a transplant because too many families say no to organ donation.

“Please tell your family you want to donate, and if you are unsure, ask yourself; if you needed a transplant would you accept one? If so, shouldn’t you be prepared to donate?”

To join the NHS organ donor register visit organdonation.nhs.uk or contact the 24-hour donor line on 0300 123 23 23.

Donated organs of 13-year-old girl help record eight people to live

A 13-year-old girl who died unexpectedly of a brain aneurysm has had her organs transplanted to eight people – the largest number in the history of the organ donation service.

Jemima Layzell was “lovely – clever, funny, compassionate and creative”, said her mother, Sophy Layzell, 43, a drama teacher from Horton in Somerset. Just a couple of weeks before her sudden collapse in March 2012, the family had a conversation about organ donation because a family friend had died in a car crash.

“They were on the register but their organs couldn’t be donated because of the circumstances of their death,” said Sophy. “Jemima had never heard of organ donation before and found it a little bit unsettling, but totally understood the importance of it.”

Her parents found the decision hard, but are glad they made it. Jemima’s heart, small bowel, and pancreas were transplanted into three people. Two people received her kidneys. Her liver was split and transplanted into another two people, while her lungs were transplanted into one patient.

The eight recipients included five children, who came from all over England.

Jemima collapsed during the preparations for her mother’s 38th birthday party and died in hospital four days later. A brain aneurysm, rare in a child, is a swelling in an artery wall and there are no symptoms unless it ruptures. When it bursts, it causes a haemorrhage in the brain which can kill or cause lasting damage.

Her parents set up the Jemima Layzell Trust in her memory to help survivors. “If Jemima had survived, the ruptured aneurysm would have severely affected her communication and the right side of her body,” they say on the trust website.

Her parents went through clothes and possessions, looking for clues as to why she had died so young. They didn’t find them, but they did discover about 20 diaries and notebooks she had been keeping since she was four years old. These they have turned into a book, called The Draft, sales of which will raise funds for the charity.

They tell the story of her brief life.

Saturday 9 July 2011

Dear Diary

It is times like this when I sit and wonder ‘where’s my Romeo? What happened to my Prince Charming?’ But then I stop and think, do I really deserve him?
… I want to leap out of bed, draw back the curtains and gaze out into the night.
To lean out the window, sing for my true love, the love I do not yet
possess and possibly never will. If only I weren’t so afraid.

Monday 8 August 2011

Some people say that God can’t exist because if he did he would help all the poor people in the world.
I object to that. I feel their despair but WE have to help them. They
are there because we did this to them. They are there because we have a
wrong to right. They are there to stop us from turning into complete
monsters before it’s too late.

One extract even foretells the future:

Sunday 7 August 2011

Anyway I need to write what I think and feel. Not all that you see
here actually ‘happened’ but it’s still very real to me. I don’t care if
I let my imagination run away with me!
Plenty of brilliant artists and writers were mad! In fact it made their work more interesting! Even if they did cut their ears off, commit suicide, run round doing crazy stuff etc etc.
People still loved them and their work just the same. And I want to be loved too. I almost feel as though I will never live long enough to become an author, to be married and have a family.

Her mother, her father, Harvey, 49, the manager of a building company, and her sister, Amelia, aged 17, run the Jemima Layzell Trust, which also promotes organ donation. They are proud that Jemima’s organs helped eight other lives continue.

“Shortly after Jemima died, we watched a programme about children awaiting heart transplants and being fitted with Berlin Hearts in Great Ormond Street hospital,” said her mother. “It affirmed for us that saying ‘no’ would have been denying eight other people the chance for life, especially over Jemima’s heart, which Harvey had felt uncomfortable about donating at the time.

“We feel it’s very important for families to talk about organ donation. Every parent’s instinct is to say no, as we are programmed to protect our child. It’s only with prior knowledge of Jemima’s agreement that we were able to say yes.”

NHS Blood and Transplant is hoping Jemima’s story will encourage more families to have the crucial conversation, because a shortage of donated organs is costing hundreds of lives every year, it says.

Last year, 457 people died waiting for a transplant, including 14 children. There are 6,414 people on the transplant waiting list including 176 children.

Anthony Clarkson, of NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “Every donor is special and Jemima’s unique story shows the extraordinary difference a few words can make. Hundreds of people are still dying unnecessarily waiting for a transplant because too many families say no to organ donation.

“Please tell your family you want to donate, and if you are unsure, ask yourself; if you needed a transplant would you accept one? If so, shouldn’t you be prepared to donate?”

To join the NHS organ donor register visit organdonation.nhs.uk or contact the 24-hour donor line on 0300 123 23 23.

Donated organs of 13-year-old girl help record eight people to live

A 13-year-old girl who died unexpectedly of a brain aneurysm has had her organs transplanted to eight people – the largest number in the history of the organ donation service.

Jemima Layzell was “lovely – clever, funny, compassionate and creative”, said her mother, Sophy Layzell, 43, a drama teacher from Horton in Somerset. Just a couple of weeks before her sudden collapse in March 2012, the family had a conversation about organ donation because a family friend had died in a car crash.

“They were on the register but their organs couldn’t be donated because of the circumstances of their death,” said Sophy. “Jemima had never heard of organ donation before and found it a little bit unsettling, but totally understood the importance of it.”

Her parents found the decision hard, but are glad they made it. Jemima’s heart, small bowel, and pancreas were transplanted into three people. Two people received her kidneys. Her liver was split and transplanted into another two people, while her lungs were transplanted into one patient.

The eight recipients included five children, who came from all over England.

Jemima collapsed during the preparations for her mother’s 38th birthday party and died in hospital four days later. A brain aneurysm, rare in a child, is a swelling in an artery wall and there are no symptoms unless it ruptures. When it bursts, it causes a haemorrhage in the brain which can kill or cause lasting damage.

Her parents set up the Jemima Layzell Trust in her memory to help survivors. “If Jemima had survived, the ruptured aneurysm would have severely affected her communication and the right side of her body,” they say on the trust website.

Her parents went through clothes and possessions, looking for clues as to why she had died so young. They didn’t find them, but they did discover about 20 diaries and notebooks she had been keeping since she was four years old. These they have turned into a book, called The Draft, sales of which will raise funds for the charity.

They tell the story of her brief life.

Saturday 9 July 2011

Dear Diary

It is times like this when I sit and wonder ‘where’s my Romeo? What happened to my Prince Charming?’ But then I stop and think, do I really deserve him?
… I want to leap out of bed, draw back the curtains and gaze out into the night.
To lean out the window, sing for my true love, the love I do not yet
possess and possibly never will. If only I weren’t so afraid.

Monday 8 August 2011

Some people say that God can’t exist because if he did he would help all the poor people in the world.
I object to that. I feel their despair but WE have to help them. They
are there because we did this to them. They are there because we have a
wrong to right. They are there to stop us from turning into complete
monsters before it’s too late.

One extract even foretells the future:

Sunday 7 August 2011

Anyway I need to write what I think and feel. Not all that you see
here actually ‘happened’ but it’s still very real to me. I don’t care if
I let my imagination run away with me!
Plenty of brilliant artists and writers were mad! In fact it made their work more interesting! Even if they did cut their ears off, commit suicide, run round doing crazy stuff etc etc.
People still loved them and their work just the same. And I want to be loved too. I almost feel as though I will never live long enough to become an author, to be married and have a family.

Her mother, her father, Harvey, 49, the manager of a building company, and her sister, Amelia, aged 17, run the Jemima Layzell Trust, which also promotes organ donation. They are proud that Jemima’s organs helped eight other lives continue.

“Shortly after Jemima died, we watched a programme about children awaiting heart transplants and being fitted with Berlin Hearts in Great Ormond Street hospital,” said her mother. “It affirmed for us that saying ‘no’ would have been denying eight other people the chance for life, especially over Jemima’s heart, which Harvey had felt uncomfortable about donating at the time.

“We feel it’s very important for families to talk about organ donation. Every parent’s instinct is to say no, as we are programmed to protect our child. It’s only with prior knowledge of Jemima’s agreement that we were able to say yes.”

NHS Blood and Transplant is hoping Jemima’s story will encourage more families to have the crucial conversation, because a shortage of donated organs is costing hundreds of lives every year, it says.

Last year, 457 people died waiting for a transplant, including 14 children. There are 6,414 people on the transplant waiting list including 176 children.

Anthony Clarkson, of NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “Every donor is special and Jemima’s unique story shows the extraordinary difference a few words can make. Hundreds of people are still dying unnecessarily waiting for a transplant because too many families say no to organ donation.

“Please tell your family you want to donate, and if you are unsure, ask yourself; if you needed a transplant would you accept one? If so, shouldn’t you be prepared to donate?”

To join the NHS organ donor register visit organdonation.nhs.uk or contact the 24-hour donor line on 0300 123 23 23.

Donated organs of 13-year-old girl help record eight people to live

A 13-year-old girl who died unexpectedly of a brain aneurysm has had her organs transplanted to eight people – the largest number in the history of the organ donation service.

Jemima Layzell was “lovely – clever, funny, compassionate and creative”, said her mother, Sophy Layzell, 43, a drama teacher from Horton in Somerset. Just a couple of weeks before her sudden collapse in March 2012, the family had a conversation about organ donation because a family friend had died in a car crash.

“They were on the register but their organs couldn’t be donated because of the circumstances of their death,” said Sophy. “Jemima had never heard of organ donation before and found it a little bit unsettling, but totally understood the importance of it.”

Her parents found the decision hard, but are glad they made it. Jemima’s heart, small bowel, and pancreas were transplanted into three people. Two people received her kidneys. Her liver was split and transplanted into another two people, while her lungs were transplanted into one patient.

The eight recipients included five children, who came from all over England.

Jemima collapsed during the preparations for her mother’s 38th birthday party and died in hospital four days later. A brain aneurysm, rare in a child, is a swelling in an artery wall and there are no symptoms unless it ruptures. When it bursts, it causes a haemorrhage in the brain which can kill or cause lasting damage.

Her parents set up the Jemima Layzell Trust in her memory to help survivors. “If Jemima had survived, the ruptured aneurysm would have severely affected her communication and the right side of her body,” they say on the trust website.

Her parents went through clothes and possessions, looking for clues as to why she had died so young. They didn’t find them, but they did discover about 20 diaries and notebooks she had been keeping since she was four years old. These they have turned into a book, called The Draft, sales of which will raise funds for the charity.

They tell the story of her brief life.

Saturday 9 July 2011

Dear Diary

It is times like this when I sit and wonder ‘where’s my Romeo? What happened to my Prince Charming?’ But then I stop and think, do I really deserve him?
… I want to leap out of bed, draw back the curtains and gaze out into the night.
To lean out the window, sing for my true love, the love I do not yet
possess and possibly never will. If only I weren’t so afraid.

Monday 8 August 2011

Some people say that God can’t exist because if he did he would help all the poor people in the world.
I object to that. I feel their despair but WE have to help them. They
are there because we did this to them. They are there because we have a
wrong to right. They are there to stop us from turning into complete
monsters before it’s too late.

One extract even foretells the future:

Sunday 7 August 2011

Anyway I need to write what I think and feel. Not all that you see
here actually ‘happened’ but it’s still very real to me. I don’t care if
I let my imagination run away with me!
Plenty of brilliant artists and writers were mad! In fact it made their work more interesting! Even if they did cut their ears off, commit suicide, run round doing crazy stuff etc etc.
People still loved them and their work just the same. And I want to be loved too. I almost feel as though I will never live long enough to become an author, to be married and have a family.

Her mother, her father, Harvey, 49, the manager of a building company, and her sister, Amelia, aged 17, run the Jemima Layzell Trust, which also promotes organ donation. They are proud that Jemima’s organs helped eight other lives continue.

“Shortly after Jemima died, we watched a programme about children awaiting heart transplants and being fitted with Berlin Hearts in Great Ormond Street hospital,” said her mother. “It affirmed for us that saying ‘no’ would have been denying eight other people the chance for life, especially over Jemima’s heart, which Harvey had felt uncomfortable about donating at the time.

“We feel it’s very important for families to talk about organ donation. Every parent’s instinct is to say no, as we are programmed to protect our child. It’s only with prior knowledge of Jemima’s agreement that we were able to say yes.”

NHS Blood and Transplant is hoping Jemima’s story will encourage more families to have the crucial conversation, because a shortage of donated organs is costing hundreds of lives every year, it says.

Last year, 457 people died waiting for a transplant, including 14 children. There are 6,414 people on the transplant waiting list including 176 children.

Anthony Clarkson, of NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “Every donor is special and Jemima’s unique story shows the extraordinary difference a few words can make. Hundreds of people are still dying unnecessarily waiting for a transplant because too many families say no to organ donation.

“Please tell your family you want to donate, and if you are unsure, ask yourself; if you needed a transplant would you accept one? If so, shouldn’t you be prepared to donate?”

To join the NHS organ donor register visit organdonation.nhs.uk or contact the 24-hour donor line on 0300 123 23 23.