Thursday 28 March 2013

Dogs and cancer

Walked out of the house this morning listening to a strange item on R4; apparently scientists have identified 16 different forms of ice. And I thought those train station announcements about different types of snow were daft!

The Hound was off early for a walk this morning. Cold enough for some form of snow I thought. "Dog walking not leg chopping" is the only sane approach to diabetes care. And we are chopping at an alarming rate (rising to 7,000 a year Barbara Young Diabetes UK head and ACEVO member tells me) in our repair not prevention NHS. So today I was amused by the story in The Times which said that for an average dog walker we will cover the equivalent of 2863 marathons over their dog's life!  Each year we Hound owners clock up 575 miles according to a recent survey. And I see that we stroke our dogs 58,000 times and can expect to be licked 50,000 times. I'm sure my Hound exceeds these national averages!

So Jeremy Hunt; stop the NHS chopping and give us all dog vouchers. I'm sure my friend Clarissa Baldwin at the Dogs Trust will happily participate in a voucher scheme. All diabetics need a dog. I can see the national campaign now.

 And what great news about the major advance in cancer care; identifying genetic markers will both help identify risk and lead to better prognosis and treatment. So let's remember who funded this. Was it the government? Or the NHS?  No; it was our sector. This breakthrough is the result of work by Cancer Research UK. When people talk about the role of charities they think too much about volunteers and forget (or don't even know) that much of the medical research in this country is done through charities. In some conditions practically all research is funded by charities. Whether that is neurological conditions or cancer, migraine or heart disease. I also like to remind those who try to belittle the work of national charities that these mostly national charities work at a level where they save lives and promote better health, so the old battle of local vs. national is so unhelpful.

And of course our charities are not just doing research. They campaign for change. Demand action from Government on things like obesity or drinking. To look at just one of those national charities, Prostate Cancer UK, ably led by Owen Sharp,  they are at the forefront of pioneering research but also campaign to raise awareness of this little discussed disease and work to persuade Government and the NHS to do get better at diagnosis and treatment.

So let's give a big hand to ACEVO member Harpal Kumar, CEO of Cancer UK and remember that if George Osborne had not seen sense on the Charity tax this work would have been significantly damaged.

Anyway, enough on that. I'm off to lunch with the CEO of Leonard Cheshire and then Maundy Thursday Mass in Westminster Abbey.  Then to the Charlbury for a relaxing Easter break.

Have a very Happy Easter all.

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