by Admin 1. May 2005 10:10
Most managers have had experiences interviewing candidates for job openings. I'm sure each of you has, at one time or another, been baffled by interviewee behaviour, but we're betting you haven't faced some of the behaviours that we list below. Certainly head-scratchers, and amusing (at least to read about). Strange but true.
Based on a survey published via the Internet, here are some of the odd things reported by interviewing managers:
  1. "... said he was so well-qualified that if he didn't get the job, it would prove that the company's management was incompetent."
  2. "... stretched out on the floor to fill out the job application."
  3. "... brought her large dog to the interview."
  4. "... chewed bubble gum and constantly blew bubbles."
  5. "Candidate kept giggling through serious interview."
  6. "She wore a Walkman and said she could listen to me and the music at the same time."
  7. "Balding candidate abruptly excused himself. Returned to office a few minutes later, wearing a hairpiece."
  8. "Applicant challenged interviewer to arm wrestle."
  9. "... asked to see interviewer's resume to see if the personnel executive was qualified to judge the candidate."
  10. "... announced she hadn't had lunch and proceeded to eat a hamburger and french fries in the interviewer's office."
  11. "Without saying a word, candidate stood up and walked out during the middle of the interview."
  12. "Man wore jogging suit to interview for position as financial vice president."
  13. "Stated that, if he were hired, he would demonstrate his loyalty by having the corporate logo tattooed on his forearm."
  14. "Interrupted to phone his therapist for advice on answering specific interview questions."
  15. "... wouldn't get out of the chair until I would hire him. I had to call the police."
  16. "When I asked him about his hobbies, he stood up and started tap dancing around my office."
  17. "... had a little pinball game and challenged me to play with him."
  18. "... bounced up and down on my carpet and told me I must be highly thought of by the company because I was given such a thick carpet."
  19. "At the end of the interview, while I stood there dumbstruck, went through my purse, took out a brush, brushed his hair, and left."
  20. "... pulled out a Polaroid camera and snapped a flash picture of me. Said he collected photos of everyone who interviewed him."
  21. "Candidate asked me if I would put on a suit jacket to insure that the offer I had made was formal."
  22. "Said he wasn't interested because the position paid too much."
  23. "While I was on a long-distance phone call, the applicant took out a copy of Penthouse, and looked through the photos only, stopping longest at the centerfold."
  24. "During the interview, an alarm clock went off from the candidate's brief case. He took it out, shut it off, apologized and said he had to leave for another interview."
  25. "A telephone call came in for the job applicant. It was from his wife. His side of the conversation went like this: "Which company? When do I start? What's the salary?" I said, "I assume you're not interested in conducting the interview any further." He promptly responded, "I am as long as you'll pay me more." "I didn't hire him, but later found out there was no other job offer. It was a scam to get a higher offer."
  26. "An applicant came in wearing only one shoe. She explained that the other shoe was stolen off her foot in the bus."
  27. "His attache [case] opened when he picked it up and the contents spilled, revealing ladies' undergarments and assorted makeup and perfume."
  28. "He came to the interview with a moped and left it in the reception area. He didn't want it to get stolen, and stated that he would require indoor parking for the moped."
  29. "He took off his right shoe and sock, removed a medicated foot powder and dusted it on the foot and in the shoe. While he was putting back the shoe and sock, he mentioned that he had to use the powder four times a day, and this was the time."
  30. "Candidate said he really didn't want to get a job, but the unemployment office needed proof that he was looking for one."
  31. "He whistled when the interviewer was talking."
  32. "... asked who the lovely babe was, pointing to the picture on my desk. When I said it was my wife, he asked if she was home now and wanted my phone number. I called security."
  33. "... she threw-up on my desk, and immediately started asking questions about the job, like nothing had happened.”



Medtech Features

MRSA– super bug or superstar?

by Admin 1. May 2005 10:07


MRSA, or methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureusto give it its full name, has never been so popular!
Working in the devices industry we may forget that we also have a part to play in controlling this evasive disease.
A typical day could mean accessing clinical areas in as many as five hospitals. This has to increase the risk.
This article outlines some of the issues you and your company may wish to consider.
This antibiotic resistant bacteria is the superstar, lets say Brad Pitt, of the microbiology world, hitting the tabloid headlines most weeks!
But what really is the problem with MRSA? Do we know? Do we know how it might affect us as patients, staff or visitors to healthcare settings, and do we know what we can do about it?
Well, the actual problem is more complicated than headlines that tell us ‘MRSA, flesh eating virus, ate my father’s leg’! Headlines like this raise awareness of the fact that there is a problem related to infections acquired while receiving healthcare, however, they are often inaccurate, frightening to would-be patients, and often don’t help to address the true problem.

What is the problem with MRSA ?
The problem with hospital acquired, or healthcare associated infection (HAI) as it is more commonly known, has developed over a number of years, thought to be due to a number of factors. MRSA is thought to be one of the most common bacteria associated with HAI. One factor for this includes the fact that since antibiotics were invented, the bacteria that the antibiotics are used to fight against have been clever and have continued to evolve to protect themselves from certain antibiotics, making some infections harder to treat. This is the case with MRSA. In addition, changing healthcare has led many to believe that the standards within hospitals in particular have fallen, and that this may have contributed to the increased spread of microorganisms such as MRSA, that lead to potentially avoidable infections in susceptible patients.
Some of the problems specifically related to MRSA are reported at a national level, namely MRSA bacteraemia rates. Such blood infections are often the most serious of all infections. In addition, local areas will often report further, more detailed information that they have gathered in order to act upon problem areas, for example those patients who have contracted MRSA infection in surgical wounds.
As Staphylococcus aureusis a bacteria then lives on skin, or can live in dust made up of shedded skin scales, or can cause infection in for example wounds, it is easy to recognise that the most common way in which it might spread is through hand contact. This contact may be directly with a patient or with the healthcare environment where MRSA might be living after being shed from contaminated sites.
The risks associated with contact with the healthcare environment can be considered:
  • Those vulnerable patients, who have compromised health and require intense care, often including the insertion of devices to provide essential treatment, are unfortunately at risk of acquiring infection.
  • Those staff providing such care will also be at risk, of picking up, in particular, bacteria, which may never affect them as healthy individuals, but may be a factor in cross infection to vulnerable patients.
  • Other staff and visitors may be at risk, either to picking bacteria or to being a factor in cross infection. However, this risk should be lower if contact with patients and the healthcare environment is lower.
All of these risks of course depend on how we interact with healthcare environments and the measures that we take to protect ourselves and others.

What can we do to control HAI?
Many recent national and local initiatives have focussed on improving standards to try to ensure all HAI are prevented as far as possible. Recently the focus has been upon hand hygiene and ensuring that all within healthcare settings decontaminate their hands appropriately. The use of alcohol hand solution products, such as gels, has been highlighted in addition to hand washing, to ensure that those who have contact with patients and the healthcare environment can decontaminate their hands at all the appropriate times, especially when staff have many other pressures of work.
Therefore, one of the key messages in the control of MRSA, and other bacteria that can cause HAI, is to adopt simple, fundamental measures that will protect patients and others. If such measures are applied, then we can at least be confident that we have played our part in the fight against MRSA and other HAI.
Training on such measures is crucial, to ensure all within healthcare environments are aware of the actions they can take, and training programmes are available and delivered in many different ways. For visitors, posters are often used to alert them to the problems and actions to be taken. For healthcare workers and other associated staff training programmes delivered by specialists are often given on induction to the workplace, with further updates, at least annually, ensuring awareness is maintained.
Can you guarantee that you and your company are taking this subject seriously and what mechanisms and standards of practice have you put in place to stop the finger being pointed at you.
In the meantime, lets hope it’s not you or one of your family that hit the headlines next along side the MRSA superstar!

Claire Kilpatrick
Nurse Consultant Infection Control
Health Protection Scotland

For further information on Hospital Access please contact Carol Allan on:



Medtech Features


by Admin 1. May 2005 10:05


Language is one of the most important tools you have to influence someone.

The most successful salespeople and persuaders use positive, active sales language that instills confidence in them and their capabilities. Here is one word that you'll want to avoid using as much as possible when you are selling and persuading.
Read the following sentences:
"I really like your company, BUT I am not going to buy from you."
"You gave the best presentation, BUT we are going to buy from the Access Company."

When prospects say things like these, what they are really telling you is that they didn't like your company enough or you didn't give a good enough presentation to get the business.
The prospect's usage of the word 'but' acts to negate whatever came before it. And just as hearing 'but' from a prospect is often a negative message to you, using 'but' in your sales language can hurt your rapport with your prospects.
What would happen if this were your response to a customer's stated project budget?

"I see that you only have a budget of £50,000, BUT let me tell you why our equipment costs £100,000."

You have just given the message to the prospect that you don't care about their budget. You think they should find more money to spend with you (and maybe they should, but such an attitude will not help you get the sale). To stay in rapport with your prospect, replace the word 'but' with the word 'and'.
See here how it works:

"I see that you only have a budget of £50,000, and let me tell you why our equipment costs £100,000."

You have now shown respect for your prospect and his budget.
In using the word 'and' you acknowledge that they only have a budget of £50,000. People like to be acknowledged, and hate to be ignored. Prospects hate it when they feel that a salesperson isn't listening. It’s one of the major reasons why salespeople get little respect in the world today.
The next time you catch yourself using 'but' in a way that disrespects what someone just said, practice changing your sales language by saying the same thing again using 'and' instead of 'but'. Do this a few times and you'll find yourself using 'and' instead of 'but' and you'll have more rapport with more prospects.



Medtech Features

The NHIS Update

by Admin 1. May 2005 05:00
The NHIS update is intended to give a monthly overview of some key issues affecting the NHS. Full access to the National Health Intelligence Service allows these stories to be put into context, by providing background information and facilitating on-going investigation.

If New Labour had transformed the NHS it would probably sail through the coming election. But it hasn’t because, even for Tony, miracles take time. Last month, we quoted the statistic that some two-thirds of us now think that we personally are getting a good service from the NHS – but, irrationally, fewer than half of us think that applies nationally. Perhaps that is because NHS professionals working hard at the coalface provide the local view, while the politicians generate the national view. If that is so, the politicians are doing a lousy public relations job. As the modernised and competitive NHS develops, hospitals are likely to be forced to set up advertising departments to sell their wares. How else are they going to beat the competition? If the consumers don’t choose them, they’ll be out of business with no safety net. So will we see radio jingles and incentives? Alder Hey, Alder Hey, we ain’t got MRSA! Or Convalesce with a free holiday for two in the Bahamas after your Addenbrooke’s hip replacement. And so on. It conjures up what would be, to many, a distasteful and tacky way of organising healthcare. But what would happen if such a system were to deliver real benefits at patient level? Then the local/ national split in perception would be even more skewed. So it would appear that the NHS needs to get much better at selling the Brand. To do this it has to be clear and honest about what the Brand stands for and where it is going, so that the customers (and voters) can understand what is happening and why. The pharmaceutical industry has the same kind of problem. Ask anyone in the street what they think of pharmaceutical companies and the chances are there will be hints of evil, over-charging, over-selling, preventing the poor in developing nations from getting the medicines they need, and paying their executives obscene amounts of money. Ask someone who has just found relief, if not a cure, by using a product from one of these dreadful companies, and they are very, very grateful for the expertise and experience that allowed the product to be developed. In both cases – microscopic and personal good, macroscopic bad. In March, a King’s Fund Audit of NHS performance under New Labour said what must be obvious to most people: a lot has been achieved, but there was no guarantee that the reforms would deliver. Clearly we are in for a long haul. But if I were Mr. Reid, although Aneurin Bevan would turn in his grave, I would start spending an odd few quid on Brand Awareness.

. . . even for Tony, miracles take time

So what else happened in March?

  • Delivering the NHS Improvement Plan was published to help in delivering the NHS Improvement Plan
  • MRSA was down and a statutory code was published on cleanliness in hospitals – but blood clots are said to be 25 times more lethal than MRSA
  • it was announced that prescription changes will rise by 10p
  • Delivering Choosing Health was published – which was about how to deliver the Public Health White Paper Choosing Health
  • substance abuse in the young was reported to be down, and the EU launched a 72 million anti-smoking campaign
  • the EU also launched a platform for action on diet, physical activity and health
  • a new consultation was launched on extending supplementary prescribing; and the DoH published Medicine Matters, a guide to prescribing and medicine delivery
  • a breakdown of NHS costs was published, as were data on the increase in the number of critical care beds
  • there was an initiative to improve mental health services for ethnic minorities
  • there were 48,000 more people working in the NHS than in 2003
  • the National Programme for Information Technology became Connecting for Health
  • a social care Green Paper proposed individual budgets
  • £150 million has already been saved by eliminating Arm’s Length Bodies, and more will follow
  • £1.2 million was allocated for inequality pilots, and PCTs were urged to address vaccination inequalities
  • the Healthcare Commission is to merge with the Commission for Social Care Inspection
  • surgery choice was widened
  • recommended standards were published for sexual health
  • Patient and Public Involvement Forums are to be boosted
  • more details were published on the new NILSI
  • a report on the Pharmaceutical Price regulation scheme was presented to Parliament

National Service Frameworks were also in the news:

  • there were progress reports on the NSFs for coronary heart disease and diabetes the Long-Term Conditions NFS was launched
  • there was a pregnancy exemplar as an extension to the Children’s NSF
  • a chapter on arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death was added to the Coronary Heart Disease NSF . . . and they even fitted in an Easter holiday! Is that hyperactive or what?

Another triumph for the NHIS! Having moaned about the language used by the DoH, we were delighted to see that they had taken on board our constructive criticism, and have begun to talk to the common man with a press release entitled “More Support for ’em.” Although we were not quite sure what it meant, it does seem a move in the right direction.

If you have problems or want to know more, email

cdm Monitor Informing the NHS about key resource developments for the management of chronic disease

Hospitals are likely to be forced to set up advertising departments to sell their wares More elderly people are now living independently in their own homes, but that’s basically because there are more elderly people. The DoH published a compendium of practical examples of self-care support. But the benefits of self-care will not be evident unless more money and thought are invested in the necessary infrastructure. Telemedicine was reported to be on the wane. Therefore, it is interesting to see that Telecare, which is a vital part of that infrastructure, seems to be moving forwards. The technology is not exactly advanced, but it is very appropriate. Systems at Newham are concentrating on COPD and CHD, while Kent County Council has introduced technology to enable patients to self-assess with a range of conditions.

As the premier source of knowledge about the way the English NHS works, the National Health Intelligence Service is a mine of up-to-date structured and “contexted” information, and its very bulk can be intimidating. If you think you are not yet getting the maximum benefit from your use of www.nhis.infoand that you would profit from advice and/or training please contact us at .



Getting through the bad times, By Dr Anna Oldman, consultant at health and well-being consultancy PPC Worldwide

by Admin 1. May 2005 05:00

MILESTONE EVENTS: moving house; your first redundancy; the death of your parents – everyone will have to face some of these during their lives, leading to high levels of stress or anxiety. 91% of the employees questioned in recent research by PPC Worldwide (published as Milestone or Millstone?) admit that such events affect their productivity at work. In fact, six of the top ten reactions that people have at such times relate to work: taking time off, working less productively and making mistakes. The research reveals that performance is reduced by 20% on average, adding up to a day a week in lost productivity. That’s £15 billion a year lost from the UK’s businesses. Some ‘milestones’ are predictable events, such as returning to work after having a baby. By encouraging people to identify and address these events early enough, they will experience a notable reduction in the levels of stress or anxiety they face. Employers are increasingly offering workplace support to help employees through difficult times – for example, through private healthcare programmes or Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs). An EAP provides a 24/7 telephone and face-to-face information and counselling service. The most leading-edge ones take a proactive approach to health and well-being: they encourage employees, whenever possible, to address personal and work issues before their performance or well-being is affected. Information and advice are available on all kinds of issues, from financial and legal problems to stress management and life skills training. An employee at Eli Lilly (Lilly) found her EAP invaluable when she received some upsetting news: her ex-husband had passed away in his hotel room in Cyprus, and she had to make all the arrangements. She asked for some time at work to make phone calls – and as she didn’t know where to start, she called the company’s EAP. “The people on the helpline helped me to contact the Foreign Office and also my children in New Zealand. The EAP gave me structure and helped me out of panic mode by easing the burden. By advising me on what to do and providing a plan, they stopped me from being too overwhelmed to deal with the practicalities.” The more emotionally balanced and supported people feel in their lives generally, the better they will handle and recover from the challenges that milestones in their lives present. Too much to take? Our research explored life’s most stressful events and how people cope with them. The results are surprising. While it’s widely accepted that bereavement and illness are difficult to cope with, other less talked-about events – such as infertility and miscarriage – also have severe effects. We also found that ‘everyday’ events, such as raising teenagers and coping with debt, are among the most problematic milestones. These routine events are often unnoticed or ignored by employers, though they can be just as stressful as apparently bigger milestones such as divorce. Even positive milestones, such as getting married or the birth of a child, can result in stress or be hard to cope with. By providing permanent support, employers can help staff to manage these events through preventative measures rather than reactive treatment. Lilly launched its EAP in 2003, believing that the independent advice and counselling would benefit all of its 2,500 staff and their families. Gay Buchanan, the HR Project Leader for Work-Life Balance, says: “The EAP can be accessed by everyone at any time of day or night, and irrespective of what life stage the employee is at or their personal circumstances. Whether they are starting their career with Lilly, retiring, getting married, coping with a bereavement or caring for an elderly relative, the staff view the EAP as a huge benefit.” The EAP’s information service, which covers legal, financial and general ‘Citizens’ Advice Bureau’ type information, has proved to be the most popular as employees cope with routine events such as debt and moving house. People’s coping mechanisms are not always constructive, so employers need to be aware of destructive behaviours that can signal when an employee is under abnormal stress. While our research found that talking to friends and family is the most common thing that people do to cope, they may also use comfort eating, drinking to excess and drugs – which, over time or at an excessive level, can lead to physical and mental health problems. People may also lose their appetite and need to take time off work, or may become violent and aggressive towards their friends and colleagues. These behaviours can lead to further problems, so it’s vital that employers support their staff to ensure that they remain healthy and able to manage situations effectively. Taking care of business Andrew Armes, head of talent development and resourcing at AstraZeneca, says, “I’m not surprised by PPC’s findings: these days there are so many things that can knock us for six. That is why we offer our staff a range of support services in case they need help to cope with these types of problems. This includes up to 13 weeks of unpaid personal leave, allowable every five years, which can be a godsend if they need to be there for their family or friends without worrying about work or just need to get away from it all for two or three months.” PPC’s research findings are a wake-up call to employers and make the Government’s proposed initiative, Investors in Health, more relevant than ever. Like the employer award Investors in People, this would create an accreditation for organisations that look after the health and well-being of their employees to create a supportive working atmosphere. It is not simply the business benefits of a more productive workplace that should encourage employers to become more active in helping their staff deal with life events, but also the opportunity to show a duty of care towards their employees.

For a free copy of PPC’s new report, Milestone or Millstone?, visit

The healthcare and pharmaceutical sector For those working in healthcare and pharmaceuticals, the outlook is good. Those in healthcare are the least likely to take drugs to cope, compared to other industries. As they are also less likely to drink heavily, PPC’s research suggests those in healthcare can look after their own health as well as that of others. A quarter of respondents say they are happy to seek help outside of work and 13% (double the national average) are willing to seek help through work, showing a comfortable approach towards counselling. This contrasts markedly with those in the banking and finance sector, who are the least likely to seek professional help: just 9% say they would do that, compared to the national average of 19%.

  The 10 biggest milestones This chart shows the most difficult events, as cited by over half our sample. (The % figure is the percentage of people finding these events hard or very hard to cope with.)
  1. Miscarriage/partner who has miscarried (95%). 2. Death of someone close (94%). 3. Serious illness (93%). 4. Infertility problems (88%). 5. Splitting up with a serious partner (86%). 6. Separation (82%). 7. Being made redundant (75%). 8. Divorce (74%). 9. A court case or legal battle (72%). 10. Bringing up teenagers (63%).
  The 10 most popular coping strategies
  1. Talking to family and friends (63%). 2. Comfort eating or binge eating (41%). 3. Drinking more alcohol (38%). 4. Asking for support from family and friends (34%). 5. Spending money on clothes or treats (32%). 6. Going out to forget what he/she is going through (28%). 7. Consulting books or the Internet (28%). 8. Smoking more (27%). 9. Trying to get more sleep (26%). 10. Ignoring the problem and hoping it will go away (21%).
  PPC Worldwide’s top tips 1. What employers can do for staff
  • Provide an Employee Assistance Programme and ensure that managers and staff are familiar with what it is for, the benefits it provides and how to access it. • Promote an active stress management policy: measure and respond to workplace stress factors and educate staff in how to manage and reduce stress from other sources. • Ensure that managers receive training, guidance and support in dealing with a range of sensitive issues. Many are unsure how to approach staff members who they believe have personal difficulties. The right word at the right time is often seen as hugely supportive, and is valued by staff. • Provide ‘breathing spaces’ for staff to communicate informally. • Encourage and support staff to make healthy choices such as quitting smoking, drinking less and eating wisely. This could be linked to stress management. • State clearly and disseminate your policy on compassionate leave and other benefits, such as maternity/paternity leave. • Write updates on ‘milestones’ and publicise them regularly in order to demystify these life events and the ways people respond to them. • Cultivate a healthy working environment with clear policies and wellinformed, confident management.
  PPC Worldwide’s top tips 2. What people can do for themselves
  • Think ahead – some events can be planned for. For example, negotiate expectations with teenagers before they make demands; discuss wills and funeral arrangements with ageing relatives to avoid extra problems during grief. • If you have an EAP, know the benefits it offers and how it works before you need to use it. Remember: it’s there for all life events, not just for a ‘tragedy’. • If you don’t have an EAP, who can you turn to in difficult times? A private counsellor? A religious adviser? You need someone who is trusted, non-judgmental and supportive. • If you sense conflicting demands between personal events and work, speak to your employer. Make space to avoid having to juggle these demands when you may be stretched emotionally. • Cultivate a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Emotional resilience – the ability to ‘bounce back’ – is linked to physical well-being. • Be comfortable with your own attitudes and beliefs. Self-awareness promotes personal growth, which helps to build resilience. • Take up a regular stress-reducing activity. People who already exercise are more likely to use it as a(healthy) coping mechanism when they most need it. • Cultivate healthy relationships at work and outside: they will be beneficial to your psychological and physical health.



Nursing a grievance By Gareth Thomas, Managing Director, Cegedim UK

by Admin 1. May 2005 05:00

THE INFLUX of nurse prescribers into the NHS over the next few years is set to have a major impact on prescription decision-making – particularly in areas of specialist care, such as Parkinson’s Disease, and in the management of conditions such as high cholesterol and diabetes. Yet few pharmaceutical companies have made any serious effort to reach this increasingly important influence network. Nor do they appear to understand the needs and information requirements of nurse prescribers, many of whom spend the major part of their time undertaking home visits. Not only are most representatives still bonused on GP and consultant visits, which gives them no incentive to inform or educate nurses as to new drug efficacy or ease of administering, but there are also limited facilities for providing the ondemand information that is necessary to support individual patient interactions. Is it any wonder that this critical influence group is feeling patronised, aggrieved and overlooked? Indeed, is this persistence in ignoring the nurse prescriber community actually undermining a policy designed to give GPs more consulting time with new patients? With a lack of good, targeted information, many nurse prescribers are not opting to use their new powers. It is time for pharmaceutical companies to step up to the plate and deliver the relevant, timely information required to support the growing number of nurse prescribers in day-to-day patient interaction. A Growing Role A few years ago, there were no nurse prescribers in the UK. Today there are an estimated 50,000 – primarily district and practice nurses – with Government targets for a further 50,000 by the end of this year. Their role – releasing the GP to spend longer with patients, and reducing the need to promote patients to secondary care, by providing specialist expertise within the community – is widely expected to grow as the value of the nurse prescriber is increasingly recognised. Indeed, while they are currently working on a limited formulary, there is a strong move towards extending the formulary in order to provide nurses with full prescribing rights based on the agreed patient plan. Now, when the relevant university courses are oversubscribed with would-be nurse prescribers, perhaps it is time for the pharmaceutical companies to accept the fact that the health service has changed. Certainly, to date, the limited formulary available to nurse prescribers has enabled pharmaceutical companies to ignore their importance in the clinical decision-making process. But it is becoming increasingly evident that a new influence network is in place, and these companies need to develop strategies to inform, educate and convince a different type of clinician. The Big Picture For pharmaceutical companies, the arrival of the nurse prescriber changes the necessary timing and content of the sales message. While GPs and pharmaceutical sales representatives have, by and large, co-existed quite happily for many years, nurses are far less willing to spend time enduring a sales pitch. Furthermore, the majority of nurse prescribers fulfil community and cross-practice roles, so they are unlikely to be available for the standard representative visits. Nor will such visits deliver any reward if the company’s products are not on a PCT formulary, since nurses must remain within prescribing guidelines. Yet nurses will not continue to be tied by the decisions of others on what drugs should or should not be on the formulary. It is inconceivable that the very healthcare professionals who spend the most time with patients will not play an increasingly important role in PCT decisions about the formulary. For every pharmaceutical company dealing with the new NHS, the primary focus must be on attaining formulary status – a strategy that will require delivering targeted, highly relevant messages to the key opinion leaders within PCTs and strategic health authorities. These key opinion leaders will increasingly include nurse prescribers. Once a drug is on formulary, the pharmaceutical company must create a relevant information source for nurse prescribers. For this clinical group, prescribing is just one stage in the complete treatment decision. Key issues include the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of treatment options, the evidence, the benefits and risks of a treatment and the patient’s own involvement in the treatment plan. Nurses, therefore, require information that is precisely tailored to support a specific patient interaction – from the possible side effects of a drug to the different administration options and the key ways to ensure patient compliance with the drug programme. Preferably, given the frequency of community visits made by nurses, the pharmaceutical company must be able to deliver this information on demand. To date, while there is a growing acceptance of the importance of e-detailing in providing information to doctors, few pharmaceutical companies are geared up to meet the needs of the nursing community. Improving the Focus There is a clear opportunity here for pharmaceutical companies to support and influence a key new clinical group. So why are so few seriously addressing this area? For any pharmaceutical company with a specialist niche product, identifying the key nurses will be essential. In addition, pharmaceutical companies must begin to involve nurses in clinical trials and embark upon joint funding studies with PCTs that address not only drug efficacy, but also the key issues that affect nurses’ prescribing decisions, such as compliance and support of the patient management process. Such programmes are essential if pharmaceutical companies are going to earn the respect of nurse prescribers and create the strong, close relationship that will be required in the future. And a key component of that respect will be the use of industry experts, often former nurses, to create and deliver a message that is 100% relevant to the audience. A New Opportunity With the health service and GPs increasingly looking to use nurse prescribers as a means to boost the throughput of key patient types, such as those suffering from diabetes or high cholesterol, the influence of this group can only grow. Pharmaceutical companies need to gear up their resources to support this new network, and they need to do it soon. Those companies that recognise the influence of nurse prescribers and tailor the product message and delivery mechanism to their specific requirements will gain a significant market advantage.



Career Insights with comments from Lucy Randle, STAR Medical

by Admin 1. May 2005 05:00
Jackie Park, Neuroscience Specialist and Hospital Representative, has worked for Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceuticals Ltd for eight of her 25 years in the pharmaceutical industry. Her other roles include GP/Hospital Rep, Area Sales Manager and Commercial Manager. She really thrives on the opportunity to make a difference.

Pf asked Jackie: What is the best thing about the specialist hospital role? The best part of my job is when I am discussing individual case studies with a consultant or doctor, thereby helping people with schizophrenia regain control of the quality of their lives. This is when you realise how important the job we do really is. What is the biggest challenge you face? The product I promote is the first of a new class of drug. Therefore I am educating doctors and discussing data on a new innovation, equipping them with the scientific information to make a decision to use a new drug of which they may have no experience of the class. As you can imagine, this is a huge challenge. What would you consider the biggest success in your role, Jackie? The biggest success for me was formulary inclusion in Greater Glasgow Health Board (GGHB); this was the first in Scotland. A REAL RESULT! Also the SMC (Scottish Medicines Consortium) gave us a positive review. The two votes of confidence, especially in Scotland, are the best successes we could have predicated to increase awareness and use of the product. This was only achieved by good team working. Historically, only a handful of products have gained product inclusion this early in a campaign, so I was pleased and very proud of this result. Having worked in various other roles . . . what is it about Having worked in various other roles . . . what is it about hospital selling that you like? I have the opportunity to be at ‘the coal face’ and get first-hand feedback from doctors, nurses and key workers, denoting exactly how they feel about the product and its effects. I also have the luxury of hearing all the positive life-changing stories, which really motivates me – especially in the area of mental health. Working in mental health really demonstrates the improved quality of life and the overall impact we have on patients. Hospital selling is a real people-oriented job and you know every day that you are making a difference! What qualities make a successful hospital representative? What qualities make a successful hospital representative? The ability to: • Motivate yourself • Work independently • Demonstrate respect for the importance of the role A hospital selling role is the only job that could have held my attention and interest over the years, and given the options I would choose the same career pathway again . . . even after 25 years! Lucy Randle of STAR Medical offers some top tips to help you maximise the impact of your CV: Having spent 25 years in the industry, Jackie has held several roles, from GP Rep to Commercial Manager. Throughout her time in the industry, she has taken the time to update her CV in order to sell herself both internally and externally. Do it now It takes at least two days to write a superb new application, addressing the relevant issues and organising the information so that you sell yourself. You need to take this task seriously right from the start. The biggest error most people make is throwing away a great chance by rushing a mediocre CV out at the last minute. Regard your CV and application letter as a work in progress and give it a polish every couple of months. You never know when you will be asked for it. Make it interesting If you follow a boring format or copy out your job definition, it will be as dull as ditchwater to recruiters who have to read lots of applications every day. You need to reach these people where they get interested. The story of your career needs to build up an expectation that you are worth meeting. You need to tell them the context in which your achievements have taken place, and let them know what value you offer for the future. Edit and edit again Professional writers throw away more stuff than they publish. Put it all down and then reduce it until you fit no more than two pages. If necessary, group all of your early career details under a separate heading and just give each job a line or two. Place the focus on the last five to ten years and the highest levels of activity and achievement. Cut the minor roles and competencies that are already implied by the big stuff you do. Write your brief and powerful introduction last, when you know what you need to say in order to summarise your offering, and don’t bother giving it a heading – anyone can see what it is. Think headline and a few strap lines, making sure they hang together to lead into the story – your story. Good luck in writing/updating your CV – and if you want any assistance or feedback, please give me a call on 0870 242 2025.




by Admin 1. May 2005 05:00

24 April 2005 Dear Pharmaceutical Field I was very interested to read your article in April’s edition on ‘Who’s writing the script?’ As someone who has been a medical representative for the last eight years, I have seen vast changes taking place within our industry. It is certainly true to say that today’s influence networks are very different and that the changes that have been made to deliver improved financial control are here to stay. You asked in your article, “And where does this leave the traditional rep sales force?” In a way you answered your own question by saying firstly that GPs still need product information to inform their choice of on-formulary drugs, and secondly that there is a need to meet evolving GP needs in terms of standard product information, and also to support the new increased budgetary focus. In terms of new products, it is also important to remember that most drug and therapeutic committees include a GP, and that a primary care representative can have a key role in gaining formulary inclusion for new products. With regard to your comment on the qualifications and qualities of a medical representative also needing to change, I believe a better phrase would be to say that we need to adapt – and indeed, as these changes are evolving I can see that this is happening now. Through medical representatives increasing their knowledge and understanding of the new PCOs and developing working alliances, we can remain a valued contributor to our primary care customers. These changes are affecting our GPs too by increasing their workloads, leaving them less time for seeing patients. Our challenge is to remain an integral part of the system in order to continue to provide value to them and their practices. Yours sincerely Kim Hollis Primary Care/Hospital Representative Pfizer Ltd



Abbott: Corporate Social Responsibility

by Admin 1. May 2005 05:00

CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY (CSR) has to be more than a policy. To be effective, it must be at the centre of the operations of a business and its work with all stakeholders – from patients and competitors through to suppliers, communities and the government. Global Policy: Living the Mission Abbott’s approach to ‘citizenship’ entails work to embrace diversity, improve access to medicines and encourage innovation through science. The term ‘citizenship’ as opposed to ‘corporate responsibility’ was chosen because Abbott believes that it best reflects how the company operates worldwide. Citizenship implies both rights and responsibilities, and that all organisations (not only companies) have obligations to make a meaningful contribution to society as citizens. A key component of Abbott’s definition of ‘citizenship’ is how it uses its knowledge, leadership, products and financial resources to address needs around the world. In 2004, the total investment – in cash and products – of Abbott and the Abbott Fund (its philanthropic organisation) towards patient assistance programmes, humanitarian relief, community programmes and AIDS-related philanthropy was more than $300 million. Culture Abbott’s business is focused on improving and adding value to patients’ lives. For Abbott, this culture of Corporate and Social Responsibility has been part of its fabric since the company’s foundation and one that is taken seriously, both globally and in the UK operations. The key to the success of Abbott’s Global Citizenship programme is that the initiatives themselves are placed right at the core of the company’s operations. In addition, all Abbott employees are encouraged to play a role in developing and promoting the policy. Abbott’s vision – to be the world’s leading healthcare company, the best employer, healthcare supplier, business partner and neighbour – can only be achieved through such a strategy. Global Initiatives: Citizenship in Action Access to affordable medicines is a key global concern, and effective solutions require the commitment and collaboration of industry, government, patients and healthcare professionals. Abbott supports a variety of programmes in this regard, including projects that provide the company’s HIV drugs to 69 developing countries, including all of Africa at a financial loss to the company. Abbott also donates its rapid HIV test to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV in these countries. Abbott also supports the Step Forward programme, which provides care and support for orphans and vulnerable children. In 2004 alone, Step Forward helped more than 130,000 children and families in Tanzania, Burkina Faso, India and Romania. In addition, Abbott’s innovation-through-science policy leads the company’s drive to improve health. The Abbott Fund focuses on programmes to encourage young people from diverse backgrounds to experience learning environments. It also supports organisations that advance medical science.

Abbott is investing $100 million over five years in its AIDS-related humanitarian programmes that address critical areas of need in the developing world. For example, by the end of 2004, the Abbott Access Programme had shipped its 25thmillion rapid HIV test to Africa and other developing countries, and the Determine HIV Test Donation Programme had provided nearly two million free rapid HIV tests to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
Diversity and Human Development Abbott believes that its diverse workforce spurs creativity and helps the company to understand the different cultures in which it works. The company employs several initiatives to encourage the development of its diverse workforce. UK Citizenship Programme in Practice Employees in the UK are actively encouraged to help improve the social fabric of their local community, underscoring the company’s commitment to the regions in which it operates. For example, Abbott has been working with stakeholders in HIV/AIDS to establish the British HIV Association’s UK scholarship programme. In partnership with the St Stephen’s AIDS Trust, Abbott helps practising clinicians from resource-poor countries by giving them access to up-to-date treatment and research. Six doctors attended the 2004 programme from Vietnam, Botswana and Russia. On returning to their native countries, they were equipped to disseminate the latest knowledge on HIV/AIDS into their medical communities. In 2005, participants in this programme include doctors from Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia. Abbott also provides ongoing support to those of its own employees who are engaged in welfare work. For example, Anne Smith, a medical representative from Abbott, was recently sponsored by the company to support the charity work of EYESEE. A qualified nurse, Anne helped a team of doctors to screen 400 underprivileged patients and assisted them in performing 150 operations in a two-week visit to Myanmar (formerly Burma).

“I’m delighted to have had this opportunity to come and learn from colleagues in the UK who are at the cutting edge of HIV treatment. The training and education that I have gained in the last three weeks has been invaluable. I’ll be taking this learning back to Botswana to help improve the care of our HIV patients” Dr Masunge, a BHIVA 2004 scholar from Botswana.

Local Charitable Initiatives in the UK Abbott’s production line quality programmes are also linked into the UK’s citizenship initiatives. At Abbott’s Queenborough manufacturing plant, for every quarter in which a zero Lost Time Accident score is achieved among its workforce, money is donated to a local charity nominated by employees, such as the Kent Air Ambulance. In addition, charity events organised by employees also provide a source of funds to UK organisations. Benefits Abbott’s citizenship initiatives are successful because they actively involve all of the business’s key stakeholders. Abbott’s heritage recognises the importance of playing an influential role as a corporate citizen, and the company has a genuine desire to make a contribution to society at every level. The company’s citizenship initiatives generate respect from partners, customers and employees alike, ensuring that CSR will remain a pillar of Abbott’s business strategy. Its work in this regard goes a long way towards realising the company’s ambition of being recognised as the world’s best healthcare company for its products, and as a global citizen.

“We realise that we cannot solve all of our world’s problems. For some stakeholders, what we do will never suffice; and for others, it will be too much. We strive to balance multiple interests and obligations, and to be open to opportunities where our products, expertise and influence can help solve social problems and improve people’s lives.” Miles D. White, Chairman and CEO, Abbott.

Now you know a little more about Abbott, and if you’re interested in a career with the company, please call HR on  01628 773355  01628 773355 .




by Admin 1. May 2005 05:00

SNORING IS NOISY breathing through the mouth and nose during sleep. It can occur when you are breathing in or out. What causes snoring and who is at risk? Snoring occurs when air does not flow smoothly through the air passages, or when the soft tissues or muscles in your air passages vibrate. As you fall into a deep sleep, the muscles in your tongue, throat and roof of your mouth (soft palate) relax. This muscle relaxation causes your throat tissues to sag. As you breathe, the sagging tissues narrow your airway and vibrate or flutter, creating the sound of snoring. The narrower your airway becomes, the greater the vibration . . . and the louder your snoring. Snoring affects 45 per cent of the population from time to time and an estimated 25 per cent of people are habitual snorers. There are a number of reasons why you may snore. Age can be a factor. The older you get, the weaker your throat muscles become. Weak throat muscles cause the surrounding tissues to sag and vibrate. If you are overweight, your throat tissues are less firm and more inclined to vibrate when you breathe. A low-set, thick soft palate, or enlarged tonsils or adenoids (the spongy tissue between the back of the nose and throat) can narrow your airway. A longer-than-normal uvula (the triangular piece of skin that hangs from your soft palate) can limit airflow and increase vibrations as you breathe. Nasal blockages caused by allergies or a deviated septum (when the partition between your nose is crooked) can limit airflow through your nose. This forces you to breathe through your mouth where more flabby tissue is located. Alcohol and certain drugs (such as tranquillisers) affect your central nervous system, causing extreme relaxation of your muscles, including those in your throat. When you sleep on your back, your tongue falls backwards into your throat which can narrow your airway and partly block airflow. When does snoring indicate a more serious problem? Rarely, snoring can indicate a more serious problem. If you snore loudly with occasional pauses in breathing, and you frequently wake up during the night, you may be suffering from sleep apnoea. Ask your partner, or a member of your family to listen for signs of this disorder. Sleep apnoea is periods when you stop breathing while you’re sleeping. These interruptions in your breathing, which can last 10 seconds or longer, occur when the muscles in your soft palate, uvula, tongue and tonsils relax during sleep. This is the same process involved with normal snoring, but with sleep apnoea, the airway narrows so much that it closes. Your breathing stops, cutting off the flow of oxygen into your body and reducing the elimination of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the blood. Your brain detects this rise in CO2 and briefly wakes you up, re-opening your airways and re-starting your breathing. This process can be repeated several times during the night. Proper sleep may become impossible, resulting in severe fatigue and a decreased quality of life. Sleep apnoea in adults can increase the risk of serious health problems such as heart failure, because it deprives the sufferer of adequate levels of oxygen, making the heart work harder than normal. How do doctors recognise sleep apnoea? Your doctor will ask you for any history of disturbed sleep, excessive daytime sleepiness, and loud snoring and/or long pauses in breathing reported by a bed partner. These signs are strongly suggestive of sleep apnoea but your doctor will need to refer you for further investigations before treatment can be started. Usually, these investigations are performed in a sleep laboratory and include: • Visual observation of sleep, to detect laboured breathing, with long pauses, followed by arousal from sleep. • Pulse oximetry, to measure the amount of oxygen in the blood and the pulse rate. The recording is taken for at least 8 hours overnight, and can be carried out at home. Multiple dips in oxygen level and peaks in pulse rate are found in people with sleep apnoea. • Polysomnography, which involves many measures of sleep, including eye movements and chin tone to define sleep stages, flow of air through the nose and mouth, movement of the chest wall, oxygen levels in the blood, and ECG (electrocardiography) to measure any serious abnormal heart rhythms. How are snoring and sleep apnoea treated? Self-care action plan Some causes of snoring (listed above) are the result of lifestyle habits. By altering these habits, you can stop - or at least minimise - your snoring. Try to maintain a healthy diet and weight. A healthy diet means eating a wide variety of foods from four main food groups: • bread, other cereals and potatoes • fruit and vegetables • milk and dairy foods • meat, fish and alternatives. You should aim to eat five servings of fresh, frozen or canned fruits and vegetables in your daily diet. You can also prepare meals in a more healthy way, for example baking or grilling foods instead of frying. This will not only reduce the fat in your throat tissues, but will also help improve your general health. Regular exercise will improve muscle strength. If you are starting out begin with a 10-minute period of light exercise and gradually build from there. When you are ready, it is recommended that you exercise at least three to four times a week. Try to do 20–30 minutes a session. Those 30 minutes don’t have to be continuous: we know that three 10-minute sessions of exercise each day is just as good. Occasional vigorous activity is unwise and possibly dangerous if you are ‘out of shape’. Factsheets on diet and weight and exercise are available and you can talk to your doctor about your ideal target weight, and regular exercise. Other measures include: • Always try to sleep on your side, instead of your back • Avoid alcohol before bedtime • Keeping the body in alignment, which could include raising the head of the bed, may help reduce snoring. This should be done by raising the head of the bed itself or by making sure that your pillow is at the correct height. Medicines If you have allergies that cause nasal congestion, try an oral or spray decongestant available from your chemist. Be careful not to use these over-the-counter (OTC) products on a long-term basis. If your nasal congestion doesn’t clear up in a few days, see your doctor as you may need stronger medication, or other measures to clear your nasal passages. If your nasal congestion is caused by a structural problem in the nose such as a deviated septum, there are surgical techniques that can correct it. If your doctor diagnoses sleep apnoea and none of the simple remedies are successful, he or she may recommend wearing an oxygen mask over your face while you sleep, to force air through your airway so that it won’t close. This treatment is called continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). However, this form of treatment may need to continue for months or years and some people find wearing a mask in bed every night difficult to tolerate. Surgery While making lifestyle changes should be the first step in treating your snoring, these measures are not always effective. If that is the case, you might want to consider a form of surgery called laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP). This relatively new procedure has been found to stop or reduce snoring in most people. LAUP involves removal of excess tissue from your soft palate and uvula with a small, hand-held laser. The operation makes your airway larger, so vibrations are decreased. The procedure is performed under a local anaesthetic and takes about 30 minutes. Depending on the severity of your snoring, you may need more than one session – some people may need up to five or six sessions before their snoring is improved. If you need multiple treatments, they will likely be spaced four to six weeks apart. In general, this surgery does not have serious side effects and you can continue your regular activities immediately after the procedure. Some people may have a sore throat for about one week. In a very few cases, laser surgery can raise or lower the pitch of the voice. Before you decide on laser surgery, talk it over with your doctor. There are also several surgical options for sleep apnoea, depending on the cause: • If your sleep apnoea is caused by a jaw deformity, an operation to correct the deformity (which usually involves lengthening of the jaw bone) will be performed. This is successful in most people • If no cause can be found for your sleep apnoea and it is not considered to be life-threatening, a procedure called uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) can be performed, where a surgeon trims and tightens throat tissues while you are under a general anaesthetic. However, this procedure has only a 30-50% success rate and can affect your ability to have CPAP therapy at a later date • If your sleep apnoea is caused by large tonsils and/or adenoids, these can be removed in a simple operation called a tonsillectomy or adenoidectomy. What is the outcome of snoring and sleep apnoea? Snoring is a mild annoyance for most people, but for those who snore habitually, it can cause serious social and marital discord. Usually, it can be remedied by lifestyle changes and/or surgery. Sleep apnoea is a more serious condition that can cause chronic illness if left untreated, but several effective treatment options are available.

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