The £36bn question

My article for Building magazine on the many flaws in the government’s healthcare reforms turned out to be very timely – by the time it appeared, they’d had a major rethink. Indeed, there was so much to say on the unanswered questions in the Health and Social Care Bill that the article ended up expanding over five pages, and that was only looking at a relatively non-emotive aspect of the plans: what exactly is going to happen to the £36bn-worth of property owned by the Primary Care Trusts once they’re gone?

A dignified end

“Would I be surprised if this person were to die at some stage in the near future?” That’s probably not a question many of those working with homeless people will feel comfortable asking themselves. But according to a new NHS guide to end-of-life care in hostels, it’s something they should bear in mind if they’re going to fulfil their clients’ last wishes and offer them a dignified death. It may be the only certainty, but death remains a difficult subject for both hostel residents and workers. In this article for Inside Housing, I spoke to the guide’s authors about starting difficult conversations, coping with serial bereavement and resisting the urge to force a “Cilla” moment.

A simple twist of fate

People blame all sorts of things on their genetic make-up these days, but how much can DNA really tell us? And does its potential outweigh the ethical problems with discriminating on the basis of someone’s genes? Insurers have already agreed not to use genetics test results until at least 2011, but I found out that a dystopian future of DNA-typecasting was probably a lot further away than we might have been led to think…

The future of the NHS

The debate over NHS top-up fees, and whether people should be able to buy better healthcare,  is an ethical minefield. It’s  also a massive business opportunity for the insurance industry.  As the government appears to be relenting on its opposition to top-ups, I wrote for Insurance Times about how the NHS might change, and spoke to the insurers hoping to make money making expensive drugs affordable for everyone.