Tag Archives: role

Digital disruption: the role of tech entrepreneurs in improving healthcare

Technology in the NHS is the bane of many healthcare professionals’ jobs. Clinicians have spoken about decrepit computer systems on hospital wards and not being able to access patient information at the right time.

Other sectors, such as the airline industry, banking and retail, are years ahead and incorporate the latest technology to make life easier for customers and employees while also protecting users’ data. The NHS, which uses one in 10 of the world’s pagers and still relies on fax machines, has yet to catch on to some of the more modern developments in technology.

So how do healthcare professionals who have grown up with technology at their fingertips find working in the NHS? What are they faced with in their jobs and how do archaic and creaking IT systems impact on patient care?

Who are the digital entrepreneurs trying to do something about the situation? What innovations are out there? And what challenges do people face trying to introduce them into the NHS?

Join us at the Guardian’s offices in London on 7 February to discuss these questions and more. The event is aimed at healthcare professionals and those with an interest in healthcare tech, 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.

Programme

6.30pm-7pm: Arrival, registration, refreshments, networking

7pm-7.05pm: Chair’s welcome, Denis Campbell, health policy editor, the Guardian and the Observer

7.05pm-8pm: Panel discussion

Panellists

  • Harpreet Sood, associate chief clinical information officer for NHS England and a practising NHS doctor
  • Mahiben Maruthappu, London-based doctor and co-founder of Cera
  • Nadia Masood, junior doctor and Justice for Health campaigner
  • Neomi Bennet, registered nurse and chief executive, Neo-Innovations UK Ltd

8pm-8.15pm: Audience Q&A

8.15pm-8.45pm: Networking

Digital disruption: the role of tech entrepreneurs in improving healthcare

Technology in the NHS is the bane of many healthcare professionals’ jobs. Clinicians have spoken about decrepit computer systems on hospital wards and not being able to access patient information at the right time.

Other sectors, such as the airline industry, banking and retail, are years ahead and incorporate the latest technology to make life easier for customers and employees while also protecting users’ data. The NHS, which uses one in 10 of the world’s pagers and still relies on fax machines, has yet to catch on to some of the more modern developments in technology.

So how do healthcare professionals who have grown up with technology at their fingertips find working in the NHS? What are they faced with in their jobs and how do archaic and creaking IT systems impact on patient care?

Who are the digital entrepreneurs trying to do something about the situation? What innovations are out there? And what challenges do people face trying to introduce them into the NHS?

Join us at the Guardian’s offices in London on 7 February to discuss these questions and more. The event is aimed at healthcare professionals and those with an interest in healthcare tech, 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.

Programme

6.30pm-7pm: Arrival, registration, refreshments, networking

7pm-7.05pm: Chair’s welcome, Denis Campbell, health policy editor, the Guardian and the Observer

7.05pm-8pm: Panel discussion

Panellists

  • Harpreet Sood, associate chief clinical information officer for NHS England and a practising NHS doctor
  • Mahiben Maruthappu, London-based doctor and co-founder of Cera
  • Nadia Masood, junior doctor and Justice for Health campaigner
  • Neomi Bennet, registered nurse and chief executive, Neo-Innovations UK Ltd

8pm-8.15pm: Audience Q&A

8.15pm-8.45pm: Networking

Treating a dying child made me reflect on my role as a paramedic

We arrived at the scene in an ambulance to see the usual collection of bystanders clustered around a body. It was a child. She was still alive. A pale grey face, mumbling and moaning, eyes half shut and flickering. There was blood pooling from a wound to the back of her head and one of her legs was facing the wrong way.

The five-year-old girl had been struck by a car. The driver hadn’t been speeding or driving recklessly. The road was quiet. She had been out on her scooter. Suddenly, with a child’s spontaneity, she rode her scooter off the pavement and onto the road. The driver didn’t have time to brake.

We started high-flow oxygen and inserted a plastic airway into her mouth to stop her tongue blocking her airway, taking extreme care not to move her head in case she had a spinal injury. A dressing was placed under her head and her leg was realigned to a neutral position to prevent further tissue damage. Although she was breathing and her lungs sounded normal, we placed a bag valve mask over her mouth.

I shone a light into the child’s eyes. The right pupil was fixed and dilated. I advised the rest of the team of my finding and a colleague started to cry as she knew it meant bad news.

When the helicopter arrived, the doctor administered anaesthetic drugs and passed a tube down the child’s throat to manually control her breathing.

At some point the parents arrived. I can’t remember when, but it was before the helicopter had landed. I remember the mother running up to our huddle of green paramedic shirts and seeing her daughter lying there, her hands clamping over her mouth in horror. I cannot begin to imagine what she was going through. Seeing your small child, grey, moaning, bleeding and unable to respond to you is something no parent should experience. We encouraged her to kneel next to her daughter’s head, hold her hand and keep talking to her. Even now, years later, I’m crying while typing this.

As the crescendo of the ascending helicopter became a distant clatter I reflected on the picturesque setting. This was a tranquil village – in complete contrast to the trauma that had unfolded at its centre.

In the post adrenaline-fuelled, great-team-work atmosphere we bantered with each other. There was dark, dark humour as we checked over our shoulders to make sure the bystanders were out of range. Lots of swearing and jokes that only paramedics remain hardened to. Each of us adding another layer of veneer to shield our bravado.

After a quick debrief back at base we were back on the road, dealing with all the usual mundane shit.

I thought I would be ok.

When I got home my seven-year-old wanted to dance with me in the kitchen while my wife was preparing dinner. I remembered how three short years ago he had been riding his green scooter around our neighbourhood, carefree and happy, jumping off curbs crying: “Watch me do this, watch me do this.”

During dinner I held his hands and remembered how I had held smaller hands a few hours earlier, my blue examination gloves sticky with blood.

I remember an anecdote about a city where the ambulance service went on strike. The police were called upon to fill the gap in emergency medical response. When someone dialled the emergency number they would turn up, throw the patient in the back of a police car, no matter how serious the condition, and rush them to hospital. It was reported that patient survival rates significantly increased during this period, which caused the public to question the utility of the ambulance service.

I was left with similar questions. Two ambulances and a helicopter didn’t make any real difference to the outcome for this little girl. We made a difference to the parents and the bystanders. For as long as we were still treating their child, they held on to the fragile hope that everything would be ok in the end.

I guess sometimes that’s the only difference you can make.

Some details have been changed.

If you would like to contribute to our Blood, sweat and tears series about experiences in healthcare, read our guidelines and get in touch by emailing sarah.johnson@theguardian.com.

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.

Princess Diana’s very real role in fighting the stigma of Aids | Letters

I’d like to take issue with the statements about Aids in Hilary Mantel’s otherwise wonderful Princess Diana essay (The princess myth, Review, 26 August). It is not right to say that in 1987 only the ignorant or bigoted thought that casual contact would infect them – or perhaps it’s more true to say that the ignorant and bigoted made up the majority of the population.

In 1987 the US banned HIV-infected immigrants and travellers. 1987 was the year President Reagan first mentioned the disease in public, and the beginning of the UK’s “Don’t Die in Ignorance” campaign. It was also the year that the activist group Act Up was founded, meaning the very beginning of concerted public information. There wasn’t just ignorance about transmission, but widespread uncertainty in the medical community itself. As the New York Times reported in February 1987 in an article entitled Facts, theory and myth on the spread of Aids, “Experts say there is no danger in a peck on the cheek of an infected person but they recommend against any exchange of saliva and deep kissing with an infected person.” Stigma played a huge part in the ongoing nightmare of an Aids diagnosis, and whatever else one may think of Princess Diana, her gesture in touching a person with Aids did occur in a climate of widespread and unnecessary ignorance and prejudice that she did her best to dispel.
Olivia Laing
Cambridge

Ms Mantel dismisses in a one-liner Diana’s impact on the Aids “epidemic” of 1987 referring to “legend”. As best friend and executor of Ivan Cohen, I wish to put into context the very real threat perceived and not restricted to the “bigoted and ignorant”. Ivan was the only person in the special wing of the Middlesex Hospital willing to be photographed with the princess and only on condition that he was photographed from behind. The stigma associated with Aids is difficult for an outsider to gauge in retrospect and Ivan certainly saw it as such. She was indeed instrumental in highlighting the incongruous attitude.
Philip Chklar
Lewes, East Sussex

In 2013 Hilary Mantel wrote a piece for the London Review of Books entitled Royal Bodies, in which she took an erudite and articulate swipe at Kate Middleton and Princess Diana among others. She also referred to a theory, not her own, that attempted to attribute Henry VIII’s terminal decline to the McLeod syndrome, and his wives’ recurrent failed pregnancies to Kell blood group incompatibility causing haemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn.

I wrote to LRB to point out that the theory was based on several false premises and was untenable. Hilary Mantel graciously replied to acknowledge my contribution and to explain that she had raised the matter merely as an interesting idea that encourages us to think more kindly about Henry and his unfortunate wives. She finished her response with a touching personal aside and her observation that “a bit of posthumous sympathy doesn’t go amiss”. The public response to Diana’s tragic death may have been excessive, but it was in part driven by the perception that a vulnerable young woman with psychiatric problems had not been given the support she needed. What’s Hilary Mantel’s problem with royal women?
Dr Gerald Smith
London

Hilary Mantel both elevates and skewers the princess myth in her brilliant exposition on Diana, the people’s princess. The comparison with Marie Antoinette is apt: “Diana’s experience as daughter of a landed family did not prepare her for Buckingham Palace, any more than Schönbrunn prepared the teenage Marie Antoinette for Versailles.”

In 1770, the marriage of the Hapsburg princess, Maria Antonia, to Louis Auguste, heir to the French throne, was arranged for political reasons. Marie Antoinette, as she would thenceforth be known, was introduced to her prospective husband, for the first time, two days before the wedding. She was 14. He was 15 and shy. It is not surprising that their bedding ritual at Versailles was observed to be unsuccessful. The non-consummation of the marriage for the next seven years frustrated all interested parties. A couple of teenagers were responsible for the great union of France and Austria that their marriage symbolised. It had to work. This was politics.

The ex-King Louis XVI was taken to his execution in a carriage. Marie Antoinette was put in an open cart for the hour-long trip to the guillotine in Place de la Révolution on 16 October 1793. Aged 37, in a white dress, hair shorn, hands tied behind her back and on a leash, she could hear the crowd screaming “Autri-chienne!” (Austrian-bitch).
Alison Hackett
Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin, Ireland

Referring to Lady Diana’s boyfriends as “non-white” (Diana was society’s warning, 31 August) is the fallacy that Plato drew attention to, of dividing all the people in the world into the Hellenic race and the rest, alias barbarians, as is shown if we describe Prince Charles’s second wife as “non-black”.
Vivian Cook
Colchester

Twenty years ago this week a woman died whose charitable work was legion and whose care for others was universally known. Has anyone recognised in writing or broadcasting the memory of Saint Teresa of Calcutta? Thought not.
Edward Thomas
Eastbourne

In reviewing Diana: Seven Days, Tim Dowling says (G2, 28 August) the outpouring of public grief caught those in charge on the hop. Maybe, but one amazing aspect of that amazing week was the speed with which those in charge made and sometimes changed the arrangements for the funeral. The princess died on a Sunday morning. By Monday it had been decided to invite representatives of the charities with which she had been involved to walk behind her coffin to the abbey. On the Tuesday I was chosen as one of the London Lighthouse representatives. We were told the procession would start from St James’s Palace. Then we heard that we would be walking the longer distance from Kensington Palace. Then it was decided that the coffin would start from Kensington Palace but that we, with Earl Spencer and the royals, would tag on behind the coffin when it reached St James’s Palace.

After I had carefully chosen my shirt, tie, socks etc, I got a registered letter from the lord chamberlain saying: “There is on this occasion no formality in what you should wear,” and that I should, if possible, wear a T-shirt with the London Lighthouse logo. These had to be specially made. We were supposed to get them on the Friday but, in the event, I didn’t get mine until the Saturday, the day of the funeral. Luckily it fitted. That was a day I’ll never forget: the heavy silence, broken only by the sound of the horses’ hooves, the tolling of the abbey’s tenor bell and sobbing from the crowds.
Chris Birch
London

Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit gu.com/letters

Princess Diana’s very real role in fighting the stigma of Aids | Letters

I’d like to take issue with the statements about Aids in Hilary Mantel’s otherwise wonderful Princess Diana essay (The princess myth, Review, 26 August). It is not right to say that in 1987 only the ignorant or bigoted thought that casual contact would infect them – or perhaps it’s more true to say that the ignorant and bigoted made up the majority of the population.

In 1987 the US banned HIV-infected immigrants and travellers. 1987 was the year President Reagan first mentioned the disease in public, and the beginning of the UK’s “Don’t Die in Ignorance” campaign. It was also the year that the activist group Act Up was founded, meaning the very beginning of concerted public information. There wasn’t just ignorance about transmission, but widespread uncertainty in the medical community itself. As the New York Times reported in February 1987 in an article entitled Facts, theory and myth on the spread of Aids, “Experts say there is no danger in a peck on the cheek of an infected person but they recommend against any exchange of saliva and deep kissing with an infected person.” Stigma played a huge part in the ongoing nightmare of an Aids diagnosis, and whatever else one may think of Princess Diana, her gesture in touching a person with Aids did occur in a climate of widespread and unnecessary ignorance and prejudice that she did her best to dispel.
Olivia Laing
Cambridge

Ms Mantel dismisses in a one-liner Diana’s impact on the Aids “epidemic” of 1987 referring to “legend”. As best friend and executor of Ivan Cohen, I wish to put into context the very real threat perceived and not restricted to the “bigoted and ignorant”. Ivan was the only person in the special wing of the Middlesex Hospital willing to be photographed with the princess and only on condition that he was photographed from behind. The stigma associated with Aids is difficult for an outsider to gauge in retrospect and Ivan certainly saw it as such. She was indeed instrumental in highlighting the incongruous attitude.
Philip Chklar
Lewes, East Sussex

In 2013 Hilary Mantel wrote a piece for the London Review of Books entitled Royal Bodies, in which she took an erudite and articulate swipe at Kate Middleton and Princess Diana among others. She also referred to a theory, not her own, that attempted to attribute Henry VIII’s terminal decline to the McLeod syndrome, and his wives’ recurrent failed pregnancies to Kell blood group incompatibility causing haemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn.

I wrote to LRB to point out that the theory was based on several false premises and was untenable. Hilary Mantel graciously replied to acknowledge my contribution and to explain that she had raised the matter merely as an interesting idea that encourages us to think more kindly about Henry and his unfortunate wives. She finished her response with a touching personal aside and her observation that “a bit of posthumous sympathy doesn’t go amiss”. The public response to Diana’s tragic death may have been excessive, but it was in part driven by the perception that a vulnerable young woman with psychiatric problems had not been given the support she needed. What’s Hilary Mantel’s problem with royal women?
Dr Gerald Smith
London

Hilary Mantel both elevates and skewers the princess myth in her brilliant exposition on Diana, the people’s princess. The comparison with Marie Antoinette is apt: “Diana’s experience as daughter of a landed family did not prepare her for Buckingham Palace, any more than Schönbrunn prepared the teenage Marie Antoinette for Versailles.”

In 1770, the marriage of the Hapsburg princess, Maria Antonia, to Louis Auguste, heir to the French throne, was arranged for political reasons. Marie Antoinette, as she would thenceforth be known, was introduced to her prospective husband, for the first time, two days before the wedding. She was 14. He was 15 and shy. It is not surprising that their bedding ritual at Versailles was observed to be unsuccessful. The non-consummation of the marriage for the next seven years frustrated all interested parties. A couple of teenagers were responsible for the great union of France and Austria that their marriage symbolised. It had to work. This was politics.

The ex-King Louis XVI was taken to his execution in a carriage. Marie Antoinette was put in an open cart for the hour-long trip to the guillotine in Place de la Révolution on 16 October 1793. Aged 37, in a white dress, hair shorn, hands tied behind her back and on a leash, she could hear the crowd screaming “Autri-chienne!” (Austrian-bitch).
Alison Hackett
Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin, Ireland

Referring to Lady Diana’s boyfriends as “non-white” (Diana was society’s warning, 31 August) is the fallacy that Plato drew attention to, of dividing all the people in the world into the Hellenic race and the rest, alias barbarians, as is shown if we describe Prince Charles’s second wife as “non-black”.
Vivian Cook
Colchester

Twenty years ago this week a woman died whose charitable work was legion and whose care for others was universally known. Has anyone recognised in writing or broadcasting the memory of Saint Teresa of Calcutta? Thought not.
Edward Thomas
Eastbourne

In reviewing Diana: Seven Days, Tim Dowling says (G2, 28 August) the outpouring of public grief caught those in charge on the hop. Maybe, but one amazing aspect of that amazing week was the speed with which those in charge made and sometimes changed the arrangements for the funeral. The princess died on a Sunday morning. By Monday it had been decided to invite representatives of the charities with which she had been involved to walk behind her coffin to the abbey. On the Tuesday I was chosen as one of the London Lighthouse representatives. We were told the procession would start from St James’s Palace. Then we heard that we would be walking the longer distance from Kensington Palace. Then it was decided that the coffin would start from Kensington Palace but that we, with Earl Spencer and the royals, would tag on behind the coffin when it reached St James’s Palace.

After I had carefully chosen my shirt, tie, socks etc, I got a registered letter from the lord chamberlain saying: “There is on this occasion no formality in what you should wear,” and that I should, if possible, wear a T-shirt with the London Lighthouse logo. These had to be specially made. We were supposed to get them on the Friday but, in the event, I didn’t get mine until the Saturday, the day of the funeral. Luckily it fitted. That was a day I’ll never forget: the heavy silence, broken only by the sound of the horses’ hooves, the tolling of the abbey’s tenor bell and sobbing from the crowds.
Chris Birch
London

Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit gu.com/letters

Princess Diana’s very real role in fighting the stigma of Aids | Letters

I’d like to take issue with the statements about Aids in Hilary Mantel’s otherwise wonderful Princess Diana essay (The princess myth, Review, 26 August). It is not right to say that in 1987 only the ignorant or bigoted thought that casual contact would infect them – or perhaps it’s more true to say that the ignorant and bigoted made up the majority of the population.

In 1987 the US banned HIV-infected immigrants and travellers. 1987 was the year President Reagan first mentioned the disease in public, and the beginning of the UK’s “Don’t Die in Ignorance” campaign. It was also the year that the activist group Act Up was founded, meaning the very beginning of concerted public information. There wasn’t just ignorance about transmission, but widespread uncertainty in the medical community itself. As the New York Times reported in February 1987 in an article entitled Facts, theory and myth on the spread of Aids, “Experts say there is no danger in a peck on the cheek of an infected person but they recommend against any exchange of saliva and deep kissing with an infected person.” Stigma played a huge part in the ongoing nightmare of an Aids diagnosis, and whatever else one may think of Princess Diana, her gesture in touching a person with Aids did occur in a climate of widespread and unnecessary ignorance and prejudice that she did her best to dispel.
Olivia Laing
Cambridge

Ms Mantel dismisses in a one-liner Diana’s impact on the Aids “epidemic” of 1987 referring to “legend”. As best friend and executor of Ivan Cohen, I wish to put into context the very real threat perceived and not restricted to the “bigoted and ignorant”. Ivan was the only person in the special wing of the Middlesex Hospital willing to be photographed with the princess and only on condition that he was photographed from behind. The stigma associated with Aids is difficult for an outsider to gauge in retrospect and Ivan certainly saw it as such. She was indeed instrumental in highlighting the incongruous attitude.
Philip Chklar
Lewes, East Sussex

In 2013 Hilary Mantel wrote a piece for the London Review of Books entitled Royal Bodies, in which she took an erudite and articulate swipe at Kate Middleton and Princess Diana among others. She also referred to a theory, not her own, that attempted to attribute Henry VIII’s terminal decline to the McLeod syndrome, and his wives’ recurrent failed pregnancies to Kell blood group incompatibility causing haemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn.

I wrote to LRB to point out that the theory was based on several false premises and was untenable. Hilary Mantel graciously replied to acknowledge my contribution and to explain that she had raised the matter merely as an interesting idea that encourages us to think more kindly about Henry and his unfortunate wives. She finished her response with a touching personal aside and her observation that “a bit of posthumous sympathy doesn’t go amiss”. The public response to Diana’s tragic death may have been excessive, but it was in part driven by the perception that a vulnerable young woman with psychiatric problems had not been given the support she needed. What’s Hilary Mantel’s problem with royal women?
Dr Gerald Smith
London

Hilary Mantel both elevates and skewers the princess myth in her brilliant exposition on Diana, the people’s princess. The comparison with Marie Antoinette is apt: “Diana’s experience as daughter of a landed family did not prepare her for Buckingham Palace, any more than Schönbrunn prepared the teenage Marie Antoinette for Versailles.”

In 1770, the marriage of the Hapsburg princess, Maria Antonia, to Louis Auguste, heir to the French throne, was arranged for political reasons. Marie Antoinette, as she would thenceforth be known, was introduced to her prospective husband, for the first time, two days before the wedding. She was 14. He was 15 and shy. It is not surprising that their bedding ritual at Versailles was observed to be unsuccessful. The non-consummation of the marriage for the next seven years frustrated all interested parties. A couple of teenagers were responsible for the great union of France and Austria that their marriage symbolised. It had to work. This was politics.

The ex-King Louis XVI was taken to his execution in a carriage. Marie Antoinette was put in an open cart for the hour-long trip to the guillotine in Place de la Révolution on 16 October 1793. Aged 37, in a white dress, hair shorn, hands tied behind her back and on a leash, she could hear the crowd screaming “Autri-chienne!” (Austrian-bitch).
Alison Hackett
Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin, Ireland

Referring to Lady Diana’s boyfriends as “non-white” (Diana was society’s warning, 31 August) is the fallacy that Plato drew attention to, of dividing all the people in the world into the Hellenic race and the rest, alias barbarians, as is shown if we describe Prince Charles’s second wife as “non-black”.
Vivian Cook
Colchester

Twenty years ago this week a woman died whose charitable work was legion and whose care for others was universally known. Has anyone recognised in writing or broadcasting the memory of Saint Teresa of Calcutta? Thought not.
Edward Thomas
Eastbourne

In reviewing Diana: Seven Days, Tim Dowling says (G2, 28 August) the outpouring of public grief caught those in charge on the hop. Maybe, but one amazing aspect of that amazing week was the speed with which those in charge made and sometimes changed the arrangements for the funeral. The princess died on a Sunday morning. By Monday it had been decided to invite representatives of the charities with which she had been involved to walk behind her coffin to the abbey. On the Tuesday I was chosen as one of the London Lighthouse representatives. We were told the procession would start from St James’s Palace. Then we heard that we would be walking the longer distance from Kensington Palace. Then it was decided that the coffin would start from Kensington Palace but that we, with Earl Spencer and the royals, would tag on behind the coffin when it reached St James’s Palace.

After I had carefully chosen my shirt, tie, socks etc, I got a registered letter from the lord chamberlain saying: “There is on this occasion no formality in what you should wear,” and that I should, if possible, wear a T-shirt with the London Lighthouse logo. These had to be specially made. We were supposed to get them on the Friday but, in the event, I didn’t get mine until the Saturday, the day of the funeral. Luckily it fitted. That was a day I’ll never forget: the heavy silence, broken only by the sound of the horses’ hooves, the tolling of the abbey’s tenor bell and sobbing from the crowds.
Chris Birch
London

Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit gu.com/letters

Princess Diana’s very real role in fighting the stigma of Aids | Letters

I’d like to take issue with the statements about Aids in Hilary Mantel’s otherwise wonderful Princess Diana essay (The princess myth, Review, 26 August). It is not right to say that in 1987 only the ignorant or bigoted thought that casual contact would infect them – or perhaps it’s more true to say that the ignorant and bigoted made up the majority of the population.

In 1987 the US banned HIV-infected immigrants and travellers. 1987 was the year President Reagan first mentioned the disease in public, and the beginning of the UK’s “Don’t Die in Ignorance” campaign. It was also the year that the activist group Act Up was founded, meaning the very beginning of concerted public information. There wasn’t just ignorance about transmission, but widespread uncertainty in the medical community itself. As the New York Times reported in February 1987 in an article entitled Facts, theory and myth on the spread of Aids, “Experts say there is no danger in a peck on the cheek of an infected person but they recommend against any exchange of saliva and deep kissing with an infected person.” Stigma played a huge part in the ongoing nightmare of an Aids diagnosis, and whatever else one may think of Princess Diana, her gesture in touching a person with Aids did occur in a climate of widespread and unnecessary ignorance and prejudice that she did her best to dispel.
Olivia Laing
Cambridge

Ms Mantel dismisses in a one-liner Diana’s impact on the Aids “epidemic” of 1987 referring to “legend”. As best friend and executor of Ivan Cohen, I wish to put into context the very real threat perceived and not restricted to the “bigoted and ignorant”. Ivan was the only person in the special wing of the Middlesex Hospital willing to be photographed with the princess and only on condition that he was photographed from behind. The stigma associated with Aids is difficult for an outsider to gauge in retrospect and Ivan certainly saw it as such. She was indeed instrumental in highlighting the incongruous attitude.
Philip Chklar
Lewes, East Sussex

In 2013 Hilary Mantel wrote a piece for the London Review of Books entitled Royal Bodies, in which she took an erudite and articulate swipe at Kate Middleton and Princess Diana among others. She also referred to a theory, not her own, that attempted to attribute Henry VIII’s terminal decline to the McLeod syndrome, and his wives’ recurrent failed pregnancies to Kell blood group incompatibility causing haemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn.

I wrote to LRB to point out that the theory was based on several false premises and was untenable. Hilary Mantel graciously replied to acknowledge my contribution and to explain that she had raised the matter merely as an interesting idea that encourages us to think more kindly about Henry and his unfortunate wives. She finished her response with a touching personal aside and her observation that “a bit of posthumous sympathy doesn’t go amiss”. The public response to Diana’s tragic death may have been excessive, but it was in part driven by the perception that a vulnerable young woman with psychiatric problems had not been given the support she needed. What’s Hilary Mantel’s problem with royal women?
Dr Gerald Smith
London

Hilary Mantel both elevates and skewers the princess myth in her brilliant exposition on Diana, the people’s princess. The comparison with Marie Antoinette is apt: “Diana’s experience as daughter of a landed family did not prepare her for Buckingham Palace, any more than Schönbrunn prepared the teenage Marie Antoinette for Versailles.”

In 1770, the marriage of the Hapsburg princess, Maria Antonia, to Louis Auguste, heir to the French throne, was arranged for political reasons. Marie Antoinette, as she would thenceforth be known, was introduced to her prospective husband, for the first time, two days before the wedding. She was 14. He was 15 and shy. It is not surprising that their bedding ritual at Versailles was observed to be unsuccessful. The non-consummation of the marriage for the next seven years frustrated all interested parties. A couple of teenagers were responsible for the great union of France and Austria that their marriage symbolised. It had to work. This was politics.

The ex-King Louis XVI was taken to his execution in a carriage. Marie Antoinette was put in an open cart for the hour-long trip to the guillotine in Place de la Révolution on 16 October 1793. Aged 37, in a white dress, hair shorn, hands tied behind her back and on a leash, she could hear the crowd screaming “Autri-chienne!” (Austrian-bitch).
Alison Hackett
Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin, Ireland

Referring to Lady Diana’s boyfriends as “non-white” (Diana was society’s warning, 31 August) is the fallacy that Plato drew attention to, of dividing all the people in the world into the Hellenic race and the rest, alias barbarians, as is shown if we describe Prince Charles’s second wife as “non-black”.
Vivian Cook
Colchester

Twenty years ago this week a woman died whose charitable work was legion and whose care for others was universally known. Has anyone recognised in writing or broadcasting the memory of Saint Teresa of Calcutta? Thought not.
Edward Thomas
Eastbourne

In reviewing Diana: Seven Days, Tim Dowling says (G2, 28 August) the outpouring of public grief caught those in charge on the hop. Maybe, but one amazing aspect of that amazing week was the speed with which those in charge made and sometimes changed the arrangements for the funeral. The princess died on a Sunday morning. By Monday it had been decided to invite representatives of the charities with which she had been involved to walk behind her coffin to the abbey. On the Tuesday I was chosen as one of the London Lighthouse representatives. We were told the procession would start from St James’s Palace. Then we heard that we would be walking the longer distance from Kensington Palace. Then it was decided that the coffin would start from Kensington Palace but that we, with Earl Spencer and the royals, would tag on behind the coffin when it reached St James’s Palace.

After I had carefully chosen my shirt, tie, socks etc, I got a registered letter from the lord chamberlain saying: “There is on this occasion no formality in what you should wear,” and that I should, if possible, wear a T-shirt with the London Lighthouse logo. These had to be specially made. We were supposed to get them on the Friday but, in the event, I didn’t get mine until the Saturday, the day of the funeral. Luckily it fitted. That was a day I’ll never forget: the heavy silence, broken only by the sound of the horses’ hooves, the tolling of the abbey’s tenor bell and sobbing from the crowds.
Chris Birch
London

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What is the role of patients in healthcare? Live discussion

The role of the patient is changing. Gone are the days when they were a passive recipient of care. Doctors are now expected to engage patients in their own health, care and treatment. There are also a number of initiatives to foster patient involvement in the design, planning and delivery of health services.

With advances in technology, there is scope for patients to have more control over their care. A raft of apps and digital innovations can help keep patients with long-term conditions at home longer. Patients now manage their own health with the support of doctors.

In a column for the Healthcare Professionals Network, commentator Richard Vize wrote: “The ubiquitous availability of medical information is irrevocably putting more power in the hands of patients.”

He added that in the UK, access to information is growing in a random and patchy way, while the ability of patients to use that information effectively in their discussions with doctors and other clinicians is entirely at the whim of the professional who is seeing them.

How can this be changed? What is the role of technology in empowering patients and healthcare professionals? What examples are there of patients being involved in designing and delivering health services? How can patient feedback play a part? Join our expert panel on Thursday 20 July from 12.30pm to 2pm to answer these questions and more.

The live chat is not video or audio-enabled but will take place in the comments section (below). If you would like to feature on the panel or propose questions, please get in touch via sarah.johnson@theguardian.com or @GdnHealthcare (#Gdnpatients) on Twitter.

Discussion commissioned and controlled by the Guardian, funded by Brother

The panel so far

Michael Seres, blogger and devises social media strategies around patient engagement. He was diagnosed aged 12 with the incurable bowel condition Crohn’s disease

Angela Coulter, senior researcher at the department of public health, University of Oxford

Sophie Castle-Clarke, fellow in health policy, Nuffield Trust

James Munro, chief executive, Care Opinion

What is the role of patients in healthcare? Live discussion

The role of the patient is changing. Gone are the days when they were a passive recipient of care. Doctors are now expected to engage patients in their own health, care and treatment. There are also a number of initiatives to foster patient involvement in the design, planning and delivery of health services.

With advances in technology, there is scope for patients to have more control over their care. A raft of apps and digital innovations can help keep patients with long-term conditions at home longer. Patients now manage their own health with the support of doctors.

In a column for the Healthcare Professionals Network, commentator Richard Vize wrote: “The ubiquitous availability of medical information is irrevocably putting more power in the hands of patients.”

He added that in the UK, access to information is growing in a random and patchy way, while the ability of patients to use that information effectively in their discussions with doctors and other clinicians is entirely at the whim of the professional who is seeing them.

How can this be changed? What is the role of technology in empowering patients and healthcare professionals? What examples are there of patients being involved in designing and delivering health services? How can patient feedback play a part? Join our expert panel on Thursday 20 July from 12.30pm to 2pm to answer these questions and more.

The live chat is not video or audio-enabled but will take place in the comments section (below). If you would like to feature on the panel or propose questions, please get in touch via sarah.johnson@theguardian.com or @GdnHealthcare (#Gdnpatients) on Twitter.

Discussion commissioned and controlled by the Guardian, funded by Brother

The panel so far

Michael Seres, blogger and devises social media strategies around patient engagement. He was diagnosed aged 12 with the incurable bowel condition Crohn’s disease

Angela Coulter, senior researcher at the department of public health, University of Oxford

Sophie Castle-Clarke, fellow in health policy, Nuffield Trust

James Munro, chief executive, Care Opinion

Trump set to hand key family planning role to anti-contraception advocate

Donald Trump has reportedly appointed to a position overseeing the US’s family planning safety net a law professor who once stated that “contraception doesn’t work” and “family planning is something that occurs between a husband and a wife and God, and it doesn’t really involve the federal government.”

The prospect of Teresa Manning becoming deputy assistant secretary for population affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services, first reported by PoliticoPro, has led reproductive rights activists to demand that Trump withdraw the appointment, saying his choice could jeopardize the federal program responsible for preventing millions of unplanned pregnancies, and by extension, abortions.

Manning’s appointment would give her oversight of Title X, a quarter-of-a-billion-dollar federal program that provides contraceptive services to low-income and uninsured women and men, and a hand in guiding the federal government’s policy toward teen pregnancy, family planning, and pregnancy prevention.

“Teresa Manning’s appointment is unacceptable,” said Dawn Laguens, Planned Parenthood’s executive vice-president. “This is the fox guarding the hen house, and women with low incomes will pay the price. We are at the lowest rate of unintended pregnancy in 30 years and a historic low for teen pregnancy because of access to birth control. Someone who promotes myths about birth control and reproductive care should not be in charge of the office that is responsible for family planning at HHS.”

Manning is an adjunct law professor teaching legal research and writing at George Mason University. She previously worked with the National Right to Life Committee, an anti-abortion group, and the Family Research Council, an arch-conservative lobbying group known for its virulent opposition to LGBT rights.

Manning once sued the University of Iowa law school for passing her over for a professorship, claiming the dean of the law school had discriminated on the basis of her political views. (The school claimed that Manning didn’t offer to fulfill all of the job’s requirements.)

The administration has not publicly confirmed Manning’s appointment, but PoliticoPro reports that she already appears in the agency’s directory.

Manning made her comments on contraception and family planning during a 2003 media tour to promote a book she had edited about the future of the anti-abortion movement.

“I always shake my head,” she told C-Span, explaining her views on family planning. “You know, family planning is something that occurs between a husband and a wife and God, and it doesn’t really involve the federal government, much less the United Nations, where we hear about family planning all the time. What are they doing in that business?”

In an interview with Boston’s NPR affiliate, Manning, who at the time went by Teresa Wagner, claimed that “contraception doesn’t work”.

“Its efficacy is very low,” she said, “especially when you consider over years – which, a lot of contraception health advocates want to start women in their adolescent years, when they’re extremely fertile, incidentally, and continue for 10, 20, 30 years. The prospect that contraception would always prevent the conception of a child is preposterous.”

In fact, many types of contraception, particularly IUDs and other implants designed to stay in the body for long periods of time, have a nearly 100% success rate at preventing pregnancy.

The federal family planning program which Manning will oversee has provided thousands of such devices to US women.

In 2014, Title X provided contraceptive drugs, devices, and counseling for nearly 4 million women who rely on the public safety net for their family planning needs. The same year, the program prevented nearly 1 million unintended pregnancies and more than 300,000 abortions.

Earlier this year, in a move that could weaken the network of family planning clinics that use Title X funds, Trump signed legislation encouraging states to divert Title X funding away from Planned Parenthood.

Manning is not the first opponent of reproductive rights to receive a high-level appointment in the Trump administration.

Tom Price, the head of the HHS, opposes the Obama-era requirement that health insurance plans cover contraception with no co-pay and once challenging a reporter to “bring me one woman” who struggled to afford contraception on her own.

In February, Trump named a health policy aide to the White House Domestic Policy Council, Katy Talento, who believes that taking birth control before pregnancy can lead to miscarriages and infertility, assertions unsupported by any medical evidence.

And on Friday, the administration named Charmaine Yoest, the former president of Americans United for Life, to head the health department’s public communications strategy. Yoest is a longtime foe of abortion rights who dismisses the notion that contraception has a role to play in reducing abortions as a “red herring”.