Friday 21 January 2011

The Health and Social Care Bill

This much talked about Bill was published on 19 January. I have not yet braved the 367 pages of the Bill – I might just wait until the explanatory notes are published and then brave the reading. It is a lot to get through and, as always, the devil will be in the detail.

At first glance the word research does crop up from time to time and I am slightly encouraged to see that The National Health Service Commissioning Board has as two of its remits a “duty” to promote innovation and research. I will read further.

I feel a bit like I did about War and Peace (see earlier blog). But now that I have got into the swing of the story I am eagerly awaiting my tube journeys each day so that I can move onto the next chapter.

Perhaps this will be just the same......

Seriously though – we will read, analyse and inwardly digest and you may even see comments here.

If you can’t contain your excitement, you can see it here Health and Social Care Bill.

Friday 14 January 2011

My electric car is no more....

It is with some sadness that I report the demise of my little electric car. It would have been its fifth birthday this month. Much as I enjoyed using it and could feel smugly “green”, the practicalities eventually ground me down including the requirement for a new battery pack.

Certainly if you wish to drive into central London the economic benefits are very clear – no congestion charge and free parking in Westminster. There is also no road tax and it is in a low insurance group and costs very little to charge. But as I am retiring in the Summer I could not justify the expense.

There are negative consequences about being at the leading edge of technology. Although I believe that the newer models are improved (and hugely more expensive), the range is claimed to be up to 40 miles but it rarely is and certainly is half that during the cold weather and if your journey involves hills. The battery pack is only guaranteed for one year and is hugely expensive to replace. One can make an economic case for doing all that if you are taking advantage of everything I mentioned above but it is no longer justified. I would have had four batteries in five years – one of which was replaced free of charge because the first was faulty – although it took some months to find that out. Additionally, you have only one place to have the car serviced – so no shopping around if you are not pleased.

I am pessimistic about the medium term future of electric cars. There are certainly a number in the pipeline but they are very expensive so very much a rich(er) person’s whim.

So it is back to the Underground which has thankfully been very efficient since the beginning of the year. I am also reading War and Peace. Well not exactly reading – I have never managed to advance beyond a few chapters. I have downloaded an audio version which is exceptionally well read and I am enthralled.

Thursday 6 January 2011

Some personal news to start 2011

It has been a while since I wrote anything – there has almost been too much happening and my brain couldn’t deal with prioritisation and then there were all those holidays....

I start 2011 with some personal news: you may know that I am involved with one of the Livery Companies of the City of London – the Worshipful Company of Needlemakers. All being well I hope to be Master next year. This is hardly a full time job but past Masters have made it clear that combining the role with full-time, full-on work is pretty tough and you end up having to turn down invitations you would have liked to accept.

I will be the first woman to hold this position in the Company’s 355 year history so it will be a very exciting time. It will also be a very busy year with many social and some ceremonial engagements. I have decided that it is not possible to take on this position and to work full time at the same time - to do so would be unfair to both organisations and to my family! I will be retiring from Breast Cancer Campaign during the summer of 2011.

I am very proud that with the support of my colleagues, the scientists we fund, and all the supporters and volunteers who all make up Breast Cancer Campaign, we have built a great organisation which is funding world class innovative research. We have an experienced and dedicated staff, a committed trustee board, a prestigious Scientific Advisory Board and exciting developments in the coming year.

The Trustee Board has started the process for the recruitment of a new Chief Executive and the post will be advertised at the end of this week.

Campaign will have, as always, my full commitment and energies until my successor is on board. I continue to be passionate about what we do and why we do it and look forward to seeing the charity not only flourish in a new chapter of its life but our research make a positive impact on the lives of those affected by breast cancer.

One of the advantages of having been here as long as I have is that I can recall and reflect on the progress that has been made in scientific research and the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.
You may see a bit more about the Needlemakers over the coming months. If the Livery Companies are a mystery to you – have a look at the website: The Needlemakers Company.