February 02, 2009 “Intelligence: Late Breaking Lab News”

Last week, THE DARK REPORT was in Birmingham, England, to participate in the sixth annual Frontiers in Laboratory Medicine (FiLM) conference. This event is co-produced by the Association of Clinical Biochemistry (ACB) and THE DARK REPORT. It provides an opportunity to learn more about healthcare in the United Kingdom and how clinical laboratories serve this single-payer health system. As most readers in the United States know, the National Health Service (NHS) of the United Kingdom is often held up as an example of a universal coverage health system that might inspire a similar universal health program in this country.


What follows is a sampling of three items which appeared in one day’s newspaper coverage. They show that the UK’s National Health Service does have its share of problems. In the January 27, 2009, issue of the Daily Mail, a national newspaper in England, the first health story discussed the latest delays in implementing the NHS’ ambitious £12 billion (US$17.2 billion) project to implement a single national electronic medical record (EMR) system. The project, launched in 2002, will link 30,000 general practitioners with 300 hospitals. Originally scheduled to be completed by 2010, the news was of another pushback in implementation. It will now likely be later than the current target of 2015. This IT challenge is mirrored in the United States, as the Veterans Administration (VA) has similarly overshot its national EMR implementation timetable.


Another healthcare news story in the Daily Mail carried the headline “The NHS is ageist, say half of doctors.” A survey of 201 doctors in the British Geriatrics Society (BGS) determined that 47% thought that the NHS was ageist—meaning that elderly people were less likely to have their symptoms diagnosed and treated. A recent report in the British Medical Journal indicated that only 62% of people aged 50 or older in England get the care recommended for their condition. Legislation or new regulations may address the issue of age discrimination in health and social care.

ADD TO: Food Search

This odd news story in the Daily Mail reported that six councils were participating in a pilot program that would pay inspectors $12.20 per hour to visit people in their homes and offer advice on what people were eating and the food they were throwing away. By year’s end, it is expected that 8,000 of these inspectors will be out visiting residents in the UK and providing dietary advice!

Dark Daily Update

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