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BBC Radio 4 - Medical Matters

Inside Health

Series that demystifies health issues, separating fact from fiction and bringing clarity to conflicting health advice.

Inside Health

  • How Bangor Hospital's Intensive Care Unit is Preparing for Winter
    Saleyha Ahsan reports from Ysbyty Gwynedd, her own hospital in Bangor, North Wales about how the Intensive Care Unit is preparing for winter. Saleyha meets Val and the Critical Care team who have looked after her since the pandemic began. Val was admitted to the unit in March and has become part of the intensive care family. Producer, Erika Wright

  • 20/10/2020
    Covid-19 damages the lungs, leaving people struggling to get enough oxygen into their body. In the early stages of the pandemic many patients needed a lot of support in intensive care - including artificial ventilation. But there are other ways of boosting oxygen levels in the body - which are being studied in the Recovery-RS trial. Professor Gavin Perkins from the University of Warwick is comparing oxygen delivered by a mask called CPAP with both regular and high-flow oxygen to see which works best. Physiotherapy is one of the hands-on therapies which has been disrupted by the lockdown. Patients who need to do bespoke exercises following a fall or a heart attack might have been offered online sessions instead. But Manchester University researcher Dr Helen Hawley-Hague says these don't suit everyone - including people who don't have access to the internet or a smartphone. We hear from Jennifer and George - both of them have taken part in Helen's studies and have accessed physiotherapy either face-to-face or via a phone app. An Inside Health listener wanted to know if live vaccines like the polio vaccine could protect us against Covid. Oxford University's Andy Pollard explains about the theory behind this idea and how it might help. Dr Margaret McCartney looks at whether it makes a difference if you do a Covid throat and nose yourself - or if it's carried out by a healthcare professional.

  • Covid-19 Test and Trace; Non-drug trials in a pandemic
    Margaret McCartney on National Test and Trace and why households are receiving multiple calls. Beth tells of being contacted many times when her child tested positive and began to think all the family had been separately in contact with different cases, until the penny dropped that the calls were all about the same contact - her daughter. Professor Kate Ardern, director of Public Health in Wigan explains why these calls from the national system aren't joined up. And is there time in a pandemic to do trials for non-drug interventions like pub curfews or social distancing? Professor Paul Glaziou explains that there are currently just 8 such trials globally, while Professor Martin McKee highlights the problems involved. And Margaret hears from Professor Atle Fretheim who is trying to set up a trial in Norway into the impact of school closures on infection control.

  • Touch in Health Care
    The Radio 4 Touch Test included questions about touch in health care. Dr Natalie Bowling who's a psychologist from the University of Greenwich helped to create the test with colleagues at Goldsmith's University. Analysing the data revealed that a positive attitude towards touch in treatment settings increases as we get older. Surprisingly men reported being more likely to feel comfortable with touch in treatment settings - despite women preferring tactile treatments more than men. GPs Margaret McCartney and Ann Robinson agree on the importance of touch in their consulting rooms - both to help tell the difference between constipation and a ruptured appendix - and to place a comforting hand on the shoulder of a distressed patient. Chemotherapy cannot cure 82 year old Anne Townsend who was given a diagnosis of ovarian cancer a year ago - but it's hoped it will help to relieve her symptoms. One side effect has been a loss of her sense of touch - devastating because she loves to sew quilts. She found that reflexology sessions helped - though they stopped because of lockdown and she now uses acupressure techniques which she was taught online by therapists at St Christopher's hospice. Deborah Bowman, Professor of Bioethics at St George's University, also felt calmer and better-prepared for medical procedures when she was having cancer treatment. She explains how she trains medical students to approach their patients in a sensitive way and use touch with care.

  • Antibodies to Covid in Kids, Covid and Colds, PIMS-TS,
    The story of one child's recovery from PIMS-TS, the rare new condition that caught doctors by surprise in April. James Gallagher visits specialists at the Evelina London Children's Hospital to hear how they coped with identifying and treating a condition they'd never seen before. Dr Jenni Handforth and Dr Sara Hanna explain how 'they had to reinvent and tweak the rule book' to manage PIMS-TS, where 'the immune system has gone a bit crazy' and treatments worked 'like a fire blanket to dampen down the immune system'. And scientists at the Francis Crick Institute have discovered that children can have Coronavirus-fighting antibodies from before the pandemic started. Dr George Kassiotis explains how kids could have them and what this might mean. And Dr Margaret McCartney unpicks the tricky issue of spotting Covid and cold symptoms in children.