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Archive for April, 2011


 Professor Chris Sanderson will be giving a seminar on Friday 15th April at 1pm in the Cancer Research Centre’s ground floor lecture theatre. Recommended!

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In praise of the NHS


Monday evening I had a stomach ache. Around midnight this localised to the bottom right hand quadrant of my abdomen. Even though the pain wasn’t that great, this is a classic sign of appendicitis and anatomically a man doesn’t have anything else there, so off the A&E at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital at 1 am on Tuesday morning.

SHO arrives at 5 am, apologises for the delay, but they had five urgent resuscitation cases arrive that night. Results from bloods and a surgeon arrive at 6 am. I am in a ward at 7 am and see the consultant, Chris Halloran – instant recognition, we had met at some basic science surgical discussion group in the past- on his morning round.

At 2 pm I was in theatre, where Chris removed the offending appendix. After a night on the ward and 42 h after my admission into A&E I was back home.

Fantastically efficient, very effective and great care from the ward staff, who are stunningly cheerful and helpful even in the face of some difficult patients. My brother who is over from Canada was amazed at how good the NHS is. The food wasn’t bad either. My fish pie was nice, and well balanced with carrots and broccoli, both nicely cooked (aka not boiled to death, but steamed and firm) and the Spanish omelette was quite reasonable. I have had a lot worse in restaurants!

So why do politicians what to fix the NHS – these doesn’t seem to be much to fix, except for the obvious – we could do with a few more doctors on duty at night and to relieve pressure on hospitals, where is the out of hours GP service? From 10 pm to 8 am there isn’t a GP service in Liverpool so one has to go to A&E. Had there been a GP, I could have been admitted straight to a ward, which would have saved space, time and cash in terms of A&E.

So not much to fix really, except for patient access to out of hours GPs. One might be cynical and consider that politicians are looking for advancement or perhaps a lucrative job in a private sector healthcare multinational when they retire from politics….

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Alessandro’s paper on the heparin/HS interactome is now out at JBC. This is a landmark paper, pulling together the heparin/HS interactome from the literature and by mass spec analysis of a rat liver fraction (the biochemists favorite!). We also delve into genomic data, which suggest that the choanoflagellate Monosiga brevicollis possesses a primitive HS (and CS) biosynthetic machinery. A descendant of the last common unicellular ancestor of animals? Someone needs to grow some of this beast up and check whether they actually make the polysaccharides…

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