HEAL UoS

Archive for the ‘2011’ Category

World Mental Health Day 10th October

In 2011, Mental Health on October 3, 2011 at 7:17 am

Sandy Walker‚ lecturer in Mental Health in the Faculty of Health Sciences‚ is organising a week of activity around World Mental Health Day‚ which is on Monday October 10th 2011.

The week of activity kicks off on Saturday 8th October with stalls in Portsmouth town centre giving out information on Mental Health and an evening opening celebration of open mic poetry with a mental health theme at the Florence Arms in Southsea.

The week of activity is focused around the main conference to be held on the Monday at Portsmouth Guildhall, entitled “Mental Health – Everyone’s Business” and will be opened by the Major of Portsmouth to celebrate service user empowerment and to help reduce the stigma towards mental health.

Further information is available here and on Facebook.  If you would like to be involved contact Sandy by email at s.c.walker@soton.ac.uk.

Donor matching: (not) in the red?

In 2011, Genetics, Reproduction on September 27, 2011 at 10:39 am

News broke last week that red-haired sperm donors were being turned away by Cryos, a Danish sperm bank, due to their currently high ‘stock levels’ and lower demand than for donors with other characteristics. The Telegraph quoted Cryos’ director, Oleu Schou, as stating that Ireland provided ‘the only reliable demand’ for red-haired donors. In contrast, an article in the Irish Times indicated that Mr Schou had stated that Ireland was actually in the top 3 of countries with the highest demand for red-haired donors, placed behind Denmark and Germany.

But, irrespective of whether or not Ireland is the place in Europe where red-haired donors are especially in demand, the story draws attention to a long-established approach to donor conception; that is, ‘donor matching’, where the characteristics of donors are (often, but  not always) matched to the characteristics of the intending parent(s). Whilst there are no guarantees that using the gametes from a donor with similar characteristics will necessarily result in a child that will physically ‘match’ the intending parent(s), which clinics should discuss with patients; difficulties can arise where gamete donors with the desired characteristics cannot be found – the example given in the Telegraph article is of the scarcity of Indian sperm donors.

While the practice of donor matching began in the context of the provision of donor sperm to married couples, in order that they might pass as ‘the family’ at a time where secrecy and anonymity in this field were both promoted, the desirability of donor matching is not restricted to those in heterosexual relationships – Caroline Jones has previously explored the significance of implied cultural and racial bio-genetic links in families with two mothers, drawing on small scale empricial research – see Sexualities (2005) Vol.8(2): 221-237.

 

Other Links

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/denmark/8768598/Sperm-bank-turns-down-redheads.html

http://www.bionews.org.uk/page_107061.asp

http://www.parentpages.co.uk/family-2/families/no-sex-please-were-danish linking to: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2038499/Sperm-bank-Cryos-turns-redheads-No-sex-Danish.html

This week’s meeting!

In 2011, Capacity, Meetings, Mental Health on September 26, 2011 at 8:45 am

On Wednesday 28 September, we’re meeting at 4pm in room 2007/4 (Law, Highfield) to discuss the ‘Adults With Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000 – Consultation On Certification Of Incapacity For Medical Treatment, with a view to formulating and submitting a response on behalf of HEAL.

This consultation seeks views on four issues on Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000 Part 5 in relation to medical treatment. The issues are:  1.widening the range of institutions which can offer training; 2.whether dentists should be required to undertake training for this purpose; 3.whether multiple section 47 medical treatment certificates should be required in some circumstances; 4.and whether other medical practitioners not specified should be enabled to certify incapacity for medical treatment.

Storage problems? Legal principles on the storage of human tissue

In 2011, Human tissue on September 14, 2011 at 7:00 am

One of our HEAL UoS colleagues, Dr Remi Nwabueze, spoke last Friday, 9 September, at the inaugural symposium on ‘Legal principles underlying the law on storage of human tissue’, a two-year Oxford-Melbourne Research Partnership set up to explore how the storage and use of human body parts and tissue should be regulated. Remi’s paper was entitled: ‘Philosophical perspectives on the concept of property and its applicability to human tissue’, and builds on some of his earlier work in this field, including his monograph on Biotechnology and the Challenge of Property.

This time last month: Tom Condliff & his gastric band request

In 2011, NHS, Testing project on September 12, 2011 at 8:57 am

On 15 August 2011, the BBC reported that Tom Condliff’s renewed request for a ‘gastric band’ had been granted by North Staffs PCT. Mr Condliff had previously requested this surgery, but the PCT in question had turned down his request as his BMI (body mass index) fell below the required threshold set out in the relevant policy – his was reported to be 43, whereas the policy in question required a minimum BMI of 50 before this operation would be routinely provided (among other conditions, including the clinicians indicating it was necessary, and the consent of the patient in question).

Part of the PCT’s policy excluded consideration of social factors, meaning that non-medical/non-clinical matters could not be used in consideration of the ‘exceptionality’ of a given case. The PCT refused his ‘individual funding request’ (IFR), which Mr Condliff had made based on the ‘exceptional’ circumstances of his case; and thereafter he sought judicial review of the PCT’s decision.

His application – based on arguments around the applicability of Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998 (right to respect for private and family life), together with section 6 of the same Act (whereby it is unlawful for a public authority to act in a way which is incompatible with a Convention right) – failed in both the High Court on April 7, 2011, and in the Court of Appeal on July 27, 2011. 

He submitted a new IFR in August 2011, and it was reported (by the BBC, above) that he was informed soon after that the request and additional medical evidence brought him within the exceptional category as per the PCT’s policy.

Other links:

Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/jul/31/tom-condliff-gastric-band-appeal?INTCMP=SRCH

Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/8703065/NHS-funds-weight-surgery-for-obese-man-despite-court-loss.html

Mills and Reeve (the N Staffs PCT’s solicitors) briefing on CA decision (27/07/11): http://www.mills-reeve.com/files/Publication/34b1ea56-ce83-4b47-a714-b7e2255cecd9/Preview/PublicationAttachment/a56af14a-d151-488f-96d9-bb64ab85d749/R_(Condliff)vNorth_Staffordshire_PCT_26_July%20_2011.pdf

Consent and confidentiality in genetics

In 2011, Genetics, News on September 8, 2011 at 8:05 pm

The Joint Committee on Clinical Genetics has recently published an updated document Consent and confidentiality in clinical genetic practice: Guidance on genetic testing and sharing genetic information (http://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/sites/default/files/consent_and_confidentiality_2011.pdf)

The document was substantially rewritten from the previous edition of 2006 by HEAL member Professor Anneke Lucassen and Alison Hall from the PHG Foundation (see http://www.phgfoundation.org/)

It was a privilege to contribute a foreword to the document, which provides guidance on acceptable practice, illustrates it with case studies and contains some useful flow charts to assist clinicians in making decisions.

Reliable information is the keystone to good practice in all healthcare but the distinguishing feature in clinical genetics is that much of this information affects not only the individual patient but also other family members. The normal principles of confidentiality and data protection are not so straightforward in this context. Clinical genetics services will often want to use the information they gather when providing advice to one person to assist another family member but may be unsure whether this is acceptable.

Where a patient agrees to confidential information about them being used in this way, there is little cause for concern. It may even be appropriate to encourage those who are hesitant to permit this to be altruistic in the expression of their ‘genetic solidarity’ with their relatives. Consideration also needs to be given to whether there are circumstances in which it may be legitimate to use such information even without consent. This will not necessarily mean disclosing it to anyone as it may be helpful merely to use it when assessing the risks of genetic disease to another family member.

Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights recognises that people’s right to privacy may be outweighed by the rights and freedoms of others, provided always that it is proportional to do so. This is a difficult balancing act and the new guidance aims to help professionals strike the appropriate balance.

It is an important document that deserves to be well read.

Jonathan Montgomery is Chair of the Human Genetics Commission but this post represents a personal view, not the position of the Commission and is based on his Foreword to the newly published document.