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I am interested in no form of ‘accelerator’ nor any form of prescription drugs….

The wider issue of withheld medical treatment

I am aware that my posts of late have been getting increasingly political in nature, something I didn’t want to do when I started this blog, and I promise to get back to talking about WPF, Vista and how I’m using it soon, but I felt I had to post on this topic.

Whilst traveling into London on Saturday the guy across the isle was reading The Telegraph, and I noticed the headline Mother is denied Pill by Muslim pharmacist.  After reading something that Lindsay and Amanda had posted about on a similar subject, I looked it up.

A Muslim chemist repeatedly refused a mother the "morning after" pill because of his religious beliefs.

Jo-Ann Thomas, a school crossing patrolwoman with two children, was told that even though the item was in stock she should go to her doctor for her supplies.

When she was denied the pill at a Lloyds Pharmacy near her home in Thurcroft, Rotherham, she asked why and says she was told the pharmacist was a "deeply religious Muslim".

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society‘s Head of Professional Ethics, Lyndsey Balmer, replied with

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s Code of Ethics and Standards requires that pharmacists act in the interests of patients and the public.

However, as with other regulators of healthcare professionals, the RPSGB recognises that a pharmacist’s beliefs or personal convictions might prevent him or her from providing a particular professional service (for example the supply of emergency hormonal contraception). Although the code does not compel a pharmacist to provide a service that is contrary to his or her religious or moral beliefs, it does require pharmacists to respect patients’ decisions and beliefs, and to advise them of other ways in which they can access the required service to ensure that their care is not unduly compromised.

If a pharmacist’s beliefs or personal convictions prevent him or her providing a particular service, the pharmacist must not criticise the patient, and either the pharmacist or a member of staff must advise the patient of an alternative source for the service requested.

Now I suppose you can argue that the pharmacist did fulfill this obligation by recommending she see her doctor, but given the crucial time requirements of EC, and the usual time it takes to get an appointment to see a GP, you have to ask yourself, at what point do personal beliefs and convictions actually become harmful to others?  Quite frankly I think it is reprehensible that the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and, if the above quote is to believed, other healthcare regulators allow those that they regulate to abscond from duty based on belief, when that duty is the provision of care to society.

Amanda puts it neatly when comparing this scenario to a diabetic using insulin.

In terms of actual use, hormonal contraception reminds me most of insulin. Insulin was invented to deal with an inborn medical issue that could, in theory, be controlled through abstemious behavior [but] if you suggested to a diabetic that eating a sandwich was wildly irresponsible, as if they aren’t demonstrating responsibility by measuring their blood sugar and dosing themselves with insulin, you’d rightly be called an asshole. And probably crazy.

I can’t even imagine what would happen if a sourpuss pharmacist refused to give out insulin prescriptions under the theory that he thinks that the people getting them just want to eat too much.

Although she’s coming at this from a different angle it’s still a valid point for my argument – that no healthcare worker should be protected because of belief (or any other reason) when they refuse to do their job – but why limit this to a discussion about woman’s and sexual health care?  Shouldn’t everyone be entitled to expect their health care professionals to deliver no matter what?

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Living with someone who lives with Fibromyalgia

As I said in my previous post, Lindsey, Archie and I went into London yesterday. To most people this is an easy affair, you hop on the train, get out at the other end, walk around all day, eat, drink and come home.

If you suffer from fibromyalgia (FMS), or are a carer for someone with the condition, it is slightly less easy. For everything that Lindsey does there are preparations to make and consequences to assess.

Preparations include phoning ahead to wherever we are going to explain about Archie and what a service dog is, making sure people know where we are going, packing snacks, water and drugs for all eventualities. Consequences are much of an unknown, but following a day out like yesterday, Lindsey will probably spend a good proportion of the next week in bed. The more immediate consequences are trying to get passed over-zealous security guards with a hyper-active springer spanial, trying not to cause too much trouble for anyone else you are with, making sure Lindsey is not over doing it, whilst at the same time trying to enjoy yourself.

It’s quite hard, but definitely worth it, because yesterday was fantastic, we stayed a bit too long though as when we finally got back Lindsey had a migraine, which will add another few days to her recovery time.

Meeting PZ

Yesterday Linz, Archie and I (more on how that went later) travelled into London to meet up with Professor Paul Myers of Pharyngula fame (photos here) along with about 20 others who read his blog.  We started at the Natural History Museum which is even more incredible than I remember (from about 20 years ago when I last went). 

We were only in there for about 2 hours (not nearly enough time I can assure you) before we disappeared off to the pub where I got to watch Americans drinking real ale, which is less funny than you would imagine, they just, well, drink it…

Met some quite cool people too, Larry, Robin, Louise and Kate being the one’s I remember, none of whose contact details I got hold of as we rushed off so quickly but never mind.

The crux of the day out though was realising I seriously need to get me a digital camera, if only so I could have got a photo of the juxtaposition of a church advertising the ‘alpha course’ with "Discover the meaning of life" written on it, against the backdrop of the Natural History Museum.

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inspirational insignificance

I’m a bit of a space buff, and have been since being awed by seeing the launch of Columbia (STS-61-C) in January 1986.  Despite only just having turned 6 years old I know it was that mission on that date because I remember even clearer the next one; 16 days later, on 28th January 1986; STS-51-L, I’m not sure I totally understood what I was seeing, but I knew it was bad, and it certainly had a big effect on me.

I still get moments of complete awe, most recently while looking at the latest pictures to come back from Cassini, taken whilst Saturn was occluding the sun.  They are stunning, all of them, but the moment of awe, of ‘inspirational insignificance’, came when, well, look for yourself; in the top left quadrant, just above where the most prominent rings stop, that white speck, that’s us.

Click to enlarge

Carolyn Porco the Cassini Imaging Team Leader puts it rather eloquently;

[A]s we looked back in the direction of the sun, we captured from across the depths of space our own planet, a pale blue orb, seen amidst the pageantry and colorful splendor of Saturn’s rings. Nothing has greater power to alter our perception of ourselves and our place in the cosmos than the sight of Earth from faraway places. In the end, this ever-widening view of our own little planet against the immensity of space is perhaps the greatest legacy of all our interplanetary travels.

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Things have been so crazy lately that I completely forgot to blog about the launch of HMV’s new download store last month.

Based on ASP.NET 2.0 and using the new ASP.NET 2.0 AJAX Extensions, the Microsoft AJAX Library and the ASP.NET AJAX Control Toolkit (all formally known by the codename ‘Atlas’) to add an air of responsiveness and user interaction that has become a staple of Web 2.0 portals. 

Presented to the user through new releases, 15 genre pages, Top 40 albums & singles and the HMV Top 100 along with a whole load of playlists and of course search, songs from the huge 2 million track catalogue can be sampled, purchased and downloaded using the player, basket and download manager respectively.

You can also subscribe to an RSS feeds for each of the genre’s a feed of HMV’s current favourite tracks.

So get browsing and buying!

Oh the irony…