March 2016
Mothering Sunday
Picture, Mothering Sunday Flowers
Our 'Mothering Sunday' Service this year took the form of a Family Communion rather than our usual 'non-Eucharist' format (Note: The 'Family Service' will be on Palm Sunday - 20th March instead and not as shown in the Parish Magazine). Some 60 people were in church, including 16 children, to celebrate 'Mothers Day' as well 'Mother Church'. (Return to top)

Whilst people received the bread and wine, the combined choir sang a setting of 'All Things Bright and Beautiful' to one of the modern alternative tunes, and the 'Young Voices' (Junior Choir) sang a special anthem by our organist Bob May extolling the virtues of Mothers, to a traditional jazz tune with solos by one of the young singers on a saxophone, before flowers were distributed to all the mothers present. This year, instead of the traditional daffodils, each mum received a potted polyanthus plant. (Return to top)
Men's Breakfast
Picture, Men's Breakfast
The guest at out Men's Breakfast in March was Mr Peter Shaw, a retired Director of Pharmacy at Gloucester NHS Trust. He spoke about the service and a current problem that’s growing - valuing the cost of a drug against the benefit of patient care. (Return to top)

Pharmacists have to do an MA degree for 4 years plus a year's experience training before being 'let loose' on their own and still go on to do further training, often resulting in a PhD. As a result their skills have traditionally been under-utilised, but high-street Pharmacists now give advice and some can even proscribe drugs previously restricted to doctors, eg: flu vaccinations and AIDS medication - and hospital pharmacists are catching up fast. (Return to top)

Peter headed a department of some 400 staff at Gloucester Royal and Cheltenham General Hospitals, plus some smaller locations, and manufacturing units at Gloucester and Cheltenham for bespoke drugs eg: individual medication for premature babies and some cancers. (Return to top)

And that's the problem that's growing. Modern drugs are more and more focused on an individual (or a very small group, eg: 270 people nationwide) and are based on gene research - eg: there used to be one treatment for breast cancer but now it's known that some 10 different faulty gene causes that need 10 different treatments. That still leaves odd cancer cells that can go elsewhere in the body and start a secondary cancer, so you need a bespoke drug matched to your precise deficiency to boost your individual immune system to kill those. (Return to top)

The moral dilemma that's growing is, should you spend over £100,000 per year on a single patient to produce 6 months delay in death when that amount could be spent on several other patients to produce a much longer benefit for them? Peter suggested we need a public debate within 5 years on what we expect from the NHS, as funds are limited - the drugs budget is already over £15 billion per year. By taking decisions on which drugs to fund for whom, the NHS effectively has to play God with people's lives. We hope to have an MP as our guest soon to address the political aspects of all this. (Return to top)