Troubled firm at centre of NHS body parts scandal 'underestimated' scale of human waste
Healthcare Environmental Services (HES) allowed hundreds of tonnes of waste from hospitals, including body parts, to pile up at four of its sites in England.
Officials today announced the company, which collected in the region of £31 million last year, has been stripped of 15 contracts it held with individual NHS trusts.
And now a whistleblower has told the MailOnline the firm’s cost-cutting tactics to take on more work and win extra disposal contracts was a ‘recipe for disaster’.
He revealed he was shocked to discover HES did not own an incinerator at the site he worked at in Tyneside and had to ship its waste to other rival firms to burn it.
Healthcare Environment Services (HES) allowed hundreds of tonnes of waste from hospitals, including human body parts, to pile up at its facilities (pictured: a site in Normanton, Wakefield, which has a mountain of 350 tonnes of waste)
HES is reportedly attempting to export 750 tonnes of pharmaceutical waste to Holland, according to the Health Service Journal (pictured: the firm's office)
A spokesperson for the company today denied two of nine claims put to it by the whistleblower and said it needed to investigate the other seven.
The firm, based in Scotland, has blamed a lack of ‘incineration capacity in the market’ and desire to reduce the use of landfill on the pile-up of clinical waste.
The unnamed ex-HES employee, who worked at the firm for four months before quitting, refused to be identified over fears of reprisals, including violence.
He said the firm – ran by a husband and wife - ‘under-estimated’ the huge amount of waste it would have to deal with by taking on contracts with dozens of NHS trusts.
It has since emerged that HES took on 'too much work’ and instead of burning the hundreds of tonnes of clinical waste, it has stockpiled it for months.
The firm’s sites in Normanton, Newcastle, Nottingham and Bradford have all breached environmental permits set to them by Government officials.
The ex-employee, who left at the start of 2016, revealed HES cut costs so much it refused to buy gloves, trousers and vaccines for staff.
HES allegedly approached the man from a rival firm, when it won an undisclosed consortium contract to dispose of NHS waste in North East England in October 2015.
Healthcare Environment Services Ltd, paid millions to burn waste from hospitals at 50 trusts across England, reportedly took on too much work (biohazard signs on a vehicle at the firm's site in Normanton)
In a statement to Parliament, Health Minister Stephen Barclay said NHS Improvement concluded HES 'failed to demonstrate that they were operating within their contractual limits
The Environment Agency was first alerted to the fact that Healthcare Environment Services Ltd had a backlog of waste - including body parts - building up.
Healthcare Environment Services Ltd was hit with a series of warnings and enforcement notices giving the firm deadlines by which the waste must be incinerated by.
The Environment Agency alerts Government ministers to the problem.
New Health Secretary Matt Hancock chairs an emergency COBRA meeting to discuss the scandal.
He sets aside £1million to help affected hospitals.
The Environment Agency announced that it has found the firm in breach of its permits at five of its six sites.
It also says it is launching a criminal investigation into the debacle.
He told MailOnline: ‘It was quite clear from the outset that HES had won the contract on a very low profit margin.’
The ex-employee added: [HES] left little wiggle room for any issues they encountered or any large increase in waste levels.
‘They were asking advice on waste levels and had clearly under-estimated the amount of incineration only waste they were about to receive.
‘They were already struggling with this waste stream around various other sites and once I found out they did not own an incinerator I knew they were in for a rough ride.’
He revealed the waste pile at HES’ site in Normanton, West Yorkshire, was there in 2015 and ‘has remained there ever since’.
The site is currently housing around 350 tonnes of amputated limbs and human flesh, among other clinical waste - five times more than its permit allows.
Neighbours backing directly onto the disposal unit last week complained about the 'foul' smell coming from the HES site.
The ex-employee, who left the firm in February 2016, said he ‘dreads to think’ what is in the Normanton unit now, or how long it has been there.
The whistleblower said: ‘[HES] refused to buy latex gloves for staff, citing the cost. Yet they expected staff to handle raw untreated clinical waste.
‘They used to decant the bins daily into anything they could find, in order to get the bins back. But these waste types should not be mixed.
‘They refused to buy needle-resistant gloves and trousers for plant staff and drivers, and this placed staff at huge risk of needle injuries.’
Health officials insisted the waste would not pose a threat to patients or the wider public, adding that contingency plans were being put in place (a HES lorry in Normanton)
Officials have known for months about the stockpiled body parts scandal that has shaken the NHS, the company at the centre of the crisis claimed last week.
The Environment Agency has been updated on the crisis at sites ran by Healthcare Environmental Services every week since January, it claimed.
The firm also alleged the government was first made aware of problems as long ago as 2015.
Yet the NHS is now having to spend millions on last-minute emergency measures to deal with tonnes of stockpiled waste. Some may be stored in ‘open yards’.
The Environment Agency told the Department of Health and Social Care about the problem in July but the details were only made public on Thursday when leaked documents were revealed by the Health Service Journal.
HES, now subject to a criminal investigation over stockpiling medical waste, claimed it is a victim of a government ‘witch-hunt’.
In a letter to NHS trusts, seen by the Daily Mail, Garry Pettigrew, managing director of Healthcare Environmental Services, claimed the NHS plan to deal with the crisis was ‘completely unworkable, illegal and financially unviable’.
Two firms in Liverpool and Wrexham, for example, had been asked to store a combined 330 tonnes of waste outside their building, even though it would usually be earmarked ‘incineration only’.
Another in Pontefract, West Yorkshire, had ‘received dispensation’ to store 300 tonnes in an ‘open yard’, he claimed.
Mr Pettigrew wrote: ‘We have found ourselves in the middle of a witch-hunt towards making this company commercially unviable and [a] personal vendetta being organised behind the scenes to somehow justify putting in place emergency measures.
‘We have highlighted to the Environment Agency, and customers, since October 2015 that there was a serious reduction in incineration capacity. The main reasons for this was... ageing infrastructure, which is unreliable, coupled with no investment in new equipment due to cost constraints from the customer base.’
The Environment Agency was first alerted to the problem in March this year and hit the company with a series of warning notices and enforcement orders giving them deadline to get rid of the waste (pictured: workers outside the Normanton site)
Scottish hospitals are preparing emergency plans to store clinical waste amid claims Healthcare Environment Services may be unable to process it.
The firm, based in Shotts, Lanarkshire, has the Scotland-wide contract for clinical waste removal.
Health boards are devising plans to store waste on-site for up to three days if it cannot be removed and incinerated, amid concern that HES has taken on more work than it can handle.
One NHS source in Scotland said: 'We’ve been told it will be stored for 72 hours, but in reality there is a real prospect of it being for weeks and even longer.
'The idea is that porters will decant clinical waste into large containers that will be kept in hospitals.
'In terms of body parts, they will be stored, probably in mortuaries, but in many hospitals space will be tight as we get into winter.'
The row raises the prospect of hospitals being filled with large amounts of potentially hazardous waste for months.
It is believed the contingency plans may be activated in Scotland as soon as next week.
Scottish Tory health spokesman Miles Briggs said: 'this is an extremely worrying development and it’s absolutely right that contingency plans are being drawn up.
'It is imperative SNP ministers ensure all clinical waste is safely disposed of.
'If this company cannot carry out its contractual obligations it is vital the SNP organises a replacement service immediately.'
Just over 300 tons of clinical waste is collected from hospitals north of the Border each year.
One insider close to the row in Scotland said: 'This isn’t a new issue – the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has been working on compliance with this company for some time.'
He also added: ‘The majority of staff were not offered the necessary vaccines that employees should have working with clinical waste.’
The firm allegedly went through 30 drivers during the time he spent at HES, which he blamed on the ‘very aggressive’ management style.
The ex-employee added: ‘They run on an atmosphere of fear and were prolific at enticing people from decent jobs with promises that never came true.
‘Once people were stuck, they basically used their ignorance at regulations regarding clinical waste to ensure they could break and bend the rules.’
A HES spokesperson told MailOnline on the phone it was 'b*******' that it refused to stock latex gloves, vaccines and trousers for staff.
They also denied it still does not own a high temperature incinerator needed to burn some NHS waste and said it shares with other firms.
Health Minister Stephen Barclay has announced today that NHS Improvement concluded HES 'failed to demonstrate they were operating within their contractual limits'.
Fifteen NHS trusts had served termination notices to HES, with the work being taken over by Mitie. The new contract was 'fully operational' from this morning.
In the wake of the scandal, NHS Improvement issued a letter to HES and gave them 48 hours to provide evidence it was 'operating within legal and contractual parameters'.
Mr Barclay told MPs: 'NHSI concluded that HES failed to demonstrate that they were operating within their contractual limits.
'Consequently, 15 NHS Trusts served termination notices to HES formally to terminate their contracts at 4pm on Sunday October 7.'
Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth has been granted an urgent question on the issue in the House of Commons this afternoon, Labour said.
HES has previously denied any wrongdoing and insisted that all clinical waste is correctly stored, with anatomical waste kept in refrigerated units.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock defended the Government's handling of the situation, given that concerns were raised in July.
NHS sources said the company had taken on too much work and was not able to dispose of the waste in a timely manner
'My clear goal throughout has been to make sure that the public are safe and also that NHS services can continue. We have secured those goals.
'We have now moved the contract away from the company that was failing to deliver, we have got a new company in and that's the point at which we could go public about this issue.
'The waste is now being removed effectively and we are across this subject to make sure that we can put in place systems that work sustainably for the long term.'
The Environment Agency last week announced it had begun a criminal investigation.
It comes as health chiefs last week asked six other waste disposal firms to step in and help NHS hospitals amid the ongoing crisis.
The Government called on the help of waste disposal firms Augean, Grundon, PHS, Stericycle/SRCL, Tradebe and Veolia, it has been reported.
Local health chiefs have already been warned that they may have to store their own waste in special trailers directly outside hospitals.
Healthcare Environment Services Ltd has breached its permits at five sites. Above: The site in Normanton, West Yorkshire
Neighbours of HES' waste disposal unit in Normanton, West Yorkshire, last week complained about the 'foul' smell.
The unnamed man, who works at YESSSelectrical, said: ‘There is a bit of a weird smell at times.’
He said he and his colleagues notice it ‘every now and again’.
The Government called on the help of waste disposal firms Augean, Grundon, PHS, Stericycle/SRCL, Tradebe and Veolia.
As well as HES' site in Normanton, its sites in Newcastle, Nottingham and Bradford have breached its environmental permits.
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Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group
October 10, 2018
Sources: Daily Mail
ritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes. </p><p>Surgeons in India posed for a celebratory selfie after successfully separating 3-day-old conjoined twins in a painstaking operation.</p><p>The baby girls - which are yet to be named - had a combined weight of just 7lbs and were joined at the tummy.</p><p>Doctors said the pair's parents were anxious about separating them - but thankfully doctors managed to convince them it was for the best.</p><p>A five-hour op saw the medics anesthetize them both at the exact same time, before separating their breastbones and livers.</p><p>The surgeons at S S Hospital in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India, performed the procedure for free because the parents were not able to pay.</p><p>The medics took a photo with the two babies on the operating table to celebrate the op which was tricky due to their tiny blood supply.</p><p>"It was one of the rarest operations our hospital does," Dr. Vaibhav Pandey, assistant professor of pediatric surgery, said. "I am very happy that both survived in spite of the long operation and the children being weak. It was a challenging task."</p><p>The operation took place on Dec. 6 and was performed by a team of five surgeons, ten doctors, and 15 nurses.</p><p>The babies, who were dehydrated before the operation, are due to be discharged from hospital later this week and are doing well, the hospital said.</p><p>They will be named during traditional rituals performed when they get home, it was said.</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>
d following a pain-staking operation to separate conjoined twins. </p><p>The baby girls - who were three days old at the time of the procedure - weighed just 7lbs between them and were joined at the stomach.</p><p>Doctors in India managed to convince the unnamed pair's parents that separation surgery was the best option, despite their fears.</p><p>The baby girls - who were three days old at the time of the procedure - weighed just 7lbs between them and were joined at the stomach (pictured: the selfie after the operation, with Dr Vaibhav Pandey, who led the surgery, at the front)</p><p>Doctors in India managed to convince the unnamed pair's parents that separation surgery was the best option, despite their fears (pictured before surgery)</p><p>A 'challenging' five-hour operation proved a success, and the two girls are expected to be allowed home later this week.</p><p>The surgeons in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh - 186 miles (300km) south east of Lucknow - performed the procedure for free because the parents were not able to pay.</p><p>Dr Vaibhav Pandey, assistant professor of paediatric surgery at S S Hospital, said: 'It was one of the rarest operations our hospital does.</p><p>'I am very happy that both survived in spite of the long operation and the children being weak. It was a challenging task.'</p><p>The operation took place on December 6 and was performed by a team of five surgeons, ten doctors and 15 nurses.</p><p>They took a photo with the two girls still on the operating table to celebrate the operation, which was tricky due to their tiny blood supply. </p><p>A 'challenging' five-hour operation proved a success, and the two girls are expected to be allowed home later this week (pictured before the surgery)</p><p>The surgeons in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh - 186 miles (300km) south east of Lucknow - performed the procedure for free (pictured after surgery)</p><p>Pictured: A medical scan shows how the twins were conjoined before the mammoth surgery</p><p>The operation took place on December 6 and was performed by a team of five surgeons, ten doctors and 15 nurses (pictured, the stomachs of the baby girls after the surgery)</p><p>The girls, who are said to be doing well, will be named during traditional rituals performed when they get home (pictured before surgery)</p><p>The girls, who are said to be doing well, will be named during traditional rituals performed when they get home.</p><p>Medical literature states conjoined twins develop when a woman produces just one egg that doesn't fully separate after being fertilised.</p><p>The developing embryo then begins to split into identical twins during the first few weeks but stops before the process is complete.</p><p>Births of conjoined twins, whose skin and internal organs are fused together, are rare. They are believed to occur just once in every 200,000 live births.</p><p>Approximately 40 to 60 per cent of conjoined twins arrive stillborn, and about 35 per cent survive only one day.</p><p>The overall survival rate of conjoined twins is somewhere between five per cent and 25 per cent.</p><p>For some reason, female siblings seem to have a better shot at survival than their male counterparts.</p><p>Although more male twins conjoin in the womb than female twins, females are three times as likely as males to be born alive. </p><p>Medical literature states conjoined twins develop when a woman produces just one egg that doesn't fully separate after being fertilised (pictured, a scan shows how the twins were joined together before the operation)</p><p>Births of conjoined twins, whose skin and internal organs are fused together, are rare. They are believed to occur just once in every 200,000 live births (pictured, another scans shows how the twins were joined together at the stomach)</p><p>Conjoined twins occur when siblings have their skin or internal organs fused together.</p><p>Conjoined twins are caused by a fertilised egg beginning to split into two embryos a few weeks after conception, but the process stops before it is complete.</p><p>The most common type is twins joined at the chest or abdomen.</p><p>Separation surgery success depends on where the twins are joined.</p><p>Doctors can only tell which organs the siblings share, and therefore plan surgery, after they are born. </p><p>At least one twin survives 75 per cent of the time. </p><p>The most famous pair of conjoined twins was Chang and Eng Bunker, who were born in 1811 and travelled with PT Barnum's circus. They were born in Siam and were known as the Siamese twins.</p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p>Your comment will be posted to MailOnline as usual.</p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p> We will automatically post your comment and a link to the news story to your Facebook timeline at the same time it is posted on MailOnline. To do this we will link your MailOnline account with your Facebook account. We’ll ask you to confirm this for your first post to Facebook.</p><p>Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group</p>
hing, tummy ache and every other symptom of indigestion you can think of.</p><p>There are many factors involved in digestion, says clinical nutritionist Marta Anhelush, from Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire.</p><p>Drinking too much with your meals can dilute digestive juices, and decrease stomach acidity vital for properly digesting food, says nutritionist Marta Anhelush</p><p>Ms Anhelush said: 'Our stomach acid is absolutely vital to aid proper digestion, especially when it comes to protein rich foods such as meat or fish, which some people find hard to digest.</p><p>'Unfortunately, the popular view is that we often have high levels of stomach acid, leading to indigestion, where in most cases it is actually the opposite.</p><p>'Drinking too much with your meals is also quite common and makes things worse by diluting all the digestive juices.'</p><p>Ms Anhelush said: 'Bitter foods such as rocket, watercress, chicory, turmeric or artichoke, and dandelion and burdock in supplements, can stimulate the production of digestive juices, including bile to help you digest and absorb fats.'</p><p>If you have the small problem of not being able to stomach bitter foods, one study suggests the solution is to, well, eat more bitter foods. Then your tastes might change.</p><p>Research in August from The American Chemical Society asked participants to eat bitter foods three times a day for a week and rate their bitterness and astringency. </p><p>Over the course of week, their bitterness and astringency ratings for the same foods reduced, and they rated them as more palatable. </p><p>Our modern, busy lifestyles mean that we often have little time to cook a meal from scratch, let alone sit at a table and eat it in peace, without any distractions, Ms Anhelush explained. </p><p>Instead, we often eat on our way to work, in front of our computers or televisions.</p><p>This sends the wrong messages to your brain, so rather than producing digestive juices, enzymes or bile and stimulating contractions of the digestive tract, your body is producing stress hormones and increasing brain activity to process the information coming from your surroundings.</p><p>Ms Anhelush said: 'As a result, we end up not only with indigestion, but also other symptoms such as bloating, distension or flatulence.'</p><p>'Before you start your meal, take a couple of deep breaths, then really think about what's on your plate; what does it look like; what does it smell like – involve all the senses,' Ms Anhelush said. </p><p>'That will send messages to your brain that the food is on its way, which will kick start your digestion, while helping you feel more satiated sooner.'</p><p>The amount of sugar a person should eat in a day depends on how old they are.</p><p>Children aged four to six years old should be limited to a maximum of 19 grams per day.</p><p>Seven to 10-year-olds should have no more than 24 grams, and children aged 11 and over should have 30g or less. </p><p>Popular snacks contain a surprising amount of sugar and even a single can of Coca Cola (35g of sugar) or one Mars bar (33g) contains more than the maximum amount of sugar a child should have over a whole day. </p><p>A bowl of Frosties contains 24g of sugar, meaning a 10-year-old who has Frosties for breakfast has probably reached their limit for the day before they even leave the house. </p><p>Children who eat too much sugar risk damaging their teeth, putting on fat and becoming overweight, and getting type 2 diabetes which increases the risk of heart disease and cancer.</p><p>Eating too many sugary and refined carbohydrate rich foods such as sweets, pasta, potatoes and processed foods feeds the unfavourable bacteria in our stomachs.</p><p>Ms Anhelush said: 'These bacteria ferment the food in the small intestines producing a lot of gas. </p><p>'The gas creates a lot of pressure in the intestine and this leads to stomach contents refluxing into the oesophagus causing irritation to the oesophageal lining, burning and pain.'</p><p>Ms Anhelush said: 'If you suffer from any digestive discomfort like indigestion, it is very likely that you may have an imbalance in your gut bacteria.</p><p>'In order to improve digestion in the long term, taking a high strength probiotic can re-balance the gut.</p><p>'Beneficial bacteria help you to digest and absorb nutrients, while also supporting bowel movements and immunity.'</p><p>Research from Japan published in November last year found that giving patients with indigestion probiotic-rich yoghurt could help alleviate indigestion.</p><p>If you're opting for a supplement, 'Look out for a product from a reputable brand that use human-strain, acid resistant bacteria that have been thoroughly researched,' said Ms Anhelush.</p><p>'Good strains include Lactobacillus acidophilus, bifodobacterium bifidum or Bifidobacterium lactis. The dose matters too, so make sure you get a product with at least 10 billion of bacteria,' she said. </p><p>Going to bed soon after eating can leave food undigested, especially as the body focuses on repairing damaged tissue at night, or processing emotions in the brain, Ms Anhelush said</p><p>'All of our organs have a daily pattern, including the digestive tract, which tends to be more active during the day,' said Ms Anhelush.</p><p>'At night, our body needs to recuperate, repair damaged tissue; our brain needs to process all the information and emotions from the day before, which means there is no time for digestion.</p><p>'If we eat late and go to bed soon after, that food is likely to be sitting in the stomach and not being digested well, causing indigestion.'</p><p>A study published in The Journal of Gastroenterology found that those who had their dinner three hours or less before bed were more likely to suffer with acid reflux than those who left fours hours or more between their last meal and going to bed.</p><p>Instead, try a tea that could help digestion. Ms Anhelush said: 'Good combinations for digestion include fennel, cardamom, chamomile, ginger, burdock or peppermint. </p><p>'Make sure you get a good quality and organic tea. If you have digestive symptoms, I would recommend to brew two teabags to get a more therapeutic effect.' </p><p>Digestion is a really long and demanding process which means it can take even up to eight hours for your whole meal to move from the stomach to the large intestines, depending on the type and quantity of the food.</p><p>'If you feel that the pain is worse on an empty stomach and improves after eating, it may be a sign of something more serious like ulcers and should be checked with your doctor.'</p><p>Digestion is a demanding process for the body, and meals can take up to eight hours to be moved from the stomach to large intestines, Ms Anhelush said as she warned against snacking</p><p>'If you are eating lunch at your desk, in a busy office, and talking about tasks, deadlines and other things that may stress you out, it will make your indigestion worse,' said Ms Anhelush.</p><p>'On the other hand, if you are eating at a table, with your friends or family, feeling relaxed and eating slowly whilst having a nice conversation, it is a completely different scenario.</p><p>'Eating is, and has always been a social activity, so as long as we are eating mindfully and enjoying our food, I would encourage having company.'</p><p>You've probably heard this a thousand times before, but don't worry - we're not going to tell you to chew everything 50 times.</p><p>'Generally rich foods that are high in protein, carbohydrates and sugars are more likely to cause indigestion,' Ms Anhelush said. </p><p>'Christmas dinner is a perfect example of overindulgence in plenty of rich foods – processed meats, chocolates, dairy and gluten heavy foods are often culprits of digestive symptoms.'</p><p>Other foods that can cause or indigestion for some people include tea and coffee, hot spices, chocolate, tomatoes and citrus fruits can also aggravate symptoms.</p><p>'Digestive enzymes taken with meals can work really quickly, speeding up digestion and reducing uncomfortable symptoms. </p><p>'Look out for a good quality supplement that contains a range of enzymes that help digest proteins fats and carbohydrates including bromelain, lipase and amylase. </p><p>'Also herbs such as peppermint, liquorice and ginger are very soothing and can have a calming effect if your indigestion manifests as an irritated tummy.</p><p>'Having reflux can also irritate the delicate tissue if your oesophagus so using a soothing and healing herbs in a liquid or a powder that can be mixed into a drink can be really beneficial.</p><p>'The best herbs to include are slippery elm, licorice, marshmallow and aloe vera. They help to coat the digestive tract, providing a protective layer, hence reducing irritation,' Ms Anhelush said. </p><p>Yeast and gluten-based alcohols such as beer and cider can be strenuous on the digestive system, as well as the sulphites in red wine, Ms Anhelush said </p><p>Alcohol that is high in sugars such as cocktails and flavoured wines, may aggravate or cause indigestion, Ms Anhelush said.</p><p>'Yeast and gluten-based alcohols such as beer and cider as well as alcohol high in sulphites such as red wine can also be strenuous on the digestive system and our detoxification pathways.'</p><p>Ms Anhelush said: 'Keep hydrated if you do drink alcohol and arm yourself with a nutrient dense meal beforehand full of dark green leafy vegetables and high-quality protein such as organic chicken or wild fish.'</p><p>You could also trying gently detoxing your body throughout the Christmas period. 'This can reduce your chances of weight gain and feeling generally fatigued and run down,' Ms Anhelush said. </p><p>'Green vegetables and fruits really are your friend at this time as they are packed full of nutrients and support the detoxification process of rich food and alcohol from your body.'</p><p>Smoothies made with kale, spinach, broccoli, and apples can be a great way to ensure your body is getting the nutrients it needs.</p><p>Ms Anhelush said: 'As it is winter time, you can also put green vegetables into a soup for lunch or dinner, adding in herbs such as coriander, which is highly detoxifying and full of plant chemicals.'</p><p>It's also worth nothing that studies have found that medicines often taken for indigestion may have an adverse effect on blood alcohol levels when you're taking them with alcohol, so talk to your doctor if you're on them. </p><p>In the study by the university of Birmingham and Loughborough, participants in the group who were asked to weight themselves twice a week were given a list of roughly how much physical activity would be needed to burn off approximate calories found in popular food and drinks consumed at Christmas.</p><p>1. Try to eat roughly the same time each day, whether this is two or five times a day. </p><p>2. Chose reduced fat foods (e.g. dairy foods, spreads, salad dressings) where you can. Use high fat food sparingly (e.g. butter and oils) if at all.</p><p>3. Walk 10,000 steps each day (equivalent to 60-90 minutes moderate activity). </p><p>4. If you snack, choose a healthy option such as fresh fruit or low calorie yogurts instead of chocolate or crisps.</p><p>5. Be careful about food claims on labels. Check the fat and sugar on labels when shopping and preparing food. </p><p>6. Do not heap food on your plate, except vegetables. Think twice before having second helpings.</p><p>7. Break up your sitting time. Stand up for ten minutes of every hour.</p><p>8. Think about your drinks. Choose water or sugar free squashes. Unsweetened fruit juice contains natural sugar so limit to one glass a day (200ml). Alcohol is high in calories so limit to one unit per day for women and two for men. Try diluting drinks with water, soda or low calorie mixers.</p><p>9. Slow down. Do not eat on the go or while watching TV. Eat at a table if possible. </p><p>10. Eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day (400g in total). </p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p>Your comment will be posted to MailOnline as usual.</p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p> We will automatically post your comment and a link to the news story to your Facebook timeline at the same time it is posted on MailOnline. To do this we will link your MailOnline account with your Facebook account. We’ll ask you to confirm this for your first post to Facebook.</p><p>Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group</p>
f dementia, research suggests.</p><p>Two compounds, including caffeine, in the pick-me-up work together to prevent the accumulation of a toxic protein in the brains of mice. </p><p>This protein, known as alpha-synuclein, is associated with both Parkinson's and dementia with lewy bodies (DLB). </p><p>Tests on rodents genetically at risk of both diseases showed the combination of caffeine and the compound EHT prevented alpha-synuclein from building-up after just six months. </p><p>The scientists now hope caffeine and EHT could be combined into a drug to help treat Parkinson's and DLB in humans, which are both incurable.</p><p>Coffee could combat Parkinson's disease and a form of dementia, research suggests (stock)</p><p>The research was carried out by Rutgers University and led by neurologist Dr M Maral Mouradian.</p><p>Nearly one million Americans are expected to be diagnosed with Parkinson's by 2020, according to figures. Around 145,500 have been diagnosed in the UK.</p><p>PD is a neurodegenerative disorder that mainly affects the dopamine-producing brain networks in the substantia nigra. </p><p>Symptoms include shaking, stiffness, and difficulty walking, balancing and coordinating. </p><p>Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB) is a type of dementia that shares symptoms with both Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. It occurs when alpha-synuclein appears in nerve cells in the brain.</p><p>Alpha-synuclein's function in a healthy brain is unclear. When it clumps, it can lead to cell death, which is associated with both PD and DLB. </p><p>Treatments for both diseases focus on reducing the protein's gene expression and blocking its aggregation. </p><p>DLB affects around 1.3million in the US, according to the Lewy Body Dementia Association. And it makes up between 10 and 15 per cent of all 850,000 dementia cases in the UK, Alzheimer's Society states. </p><p>Parkinson’s disease affects one in 500 people, and around 127,000 people in the UK live with the condition.</p><p>Figures also suggest one million Americans also suffer.</p><p>It causes muscle stiffness, slowness of movement, tremors, sleep disturbance, chronic fatigue, an impaired quality of life and can lead to severe disability.</p><p>It is a progressive neurological condition that destroys cells in the part of the brain that controls movement.</p><p>Sufferers are known to have diminished supplies of dopamine because nerve cells that make it have died.</p><p>There is currently no cure and no way of stopping the progression of the disease, but hundreds of scientific trials are underway to try and change that. </p><p>The disease claimed the life of boxing legend Muhammad Ali in 2016.</p><p>The researchers analysed newborn mice who expressed a gene that caused alpha-synuclein to aggregate in their brain. </p><p>The rodents were given either 50mg/kg of caffeine, 12mg/kg of EHT or a combination of the two mixed in their food or water every day for six months. </p><p>Tests were then carried out to assess the animals' motor, learning and memory skills, which reflects activity in different parts of the brain.</p><p>When given alone, neither caffeine nor EHT had any effect. But the mice who took the two compounds together had higher test scores.</p><p>The rodents were then euthanised and their brains examined. This revealed EHT and caffeine together boosted the activity of the protein PP2A, which prevented the accumulation of alpha-synuclein clumps.</p><p>The compound coupling also led to reduced brain inflammation, which is a hallmark of PD. </p><p>The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.</p><p>EHT is found in a coffee bean's waxy coating and is unrelated to caffeine. A derivative of the 'happy hormone' serotonin, it has been found to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties in past studies.</p><p>Dr Mouradian stressed further studies are required to determine the correct ratios of caffeine and EHT to help protect people from PD and DLB. </p><p>'EHT is a compound found in various types of coffee but the amount varies,' she said. </p><p>'It is important that the appropriate amount and ratio be determined so people don't over-caffeinate themselves, as that can have negative health consequences.' </p><p>Caffeine has previously been found to preserve brain health, with the role of coffee's thousands of other compounds being less clear until now. </p><p>Lewy body dementia (LBD) is the second most common form of degenerative dementia after Alzheimer's.</p><p>It is the form Robin Williams was diagnosed with before he took his own life in 2014.</p><p>Unlike Alzheimer's, LBD affects the brain regions responsible for vision - as opposed to memory.</p><p>That means sufferers may start with memory loss, but over time the more debilitating symptoms will be powerful hallucinations, nightmares and spatial-awareness problems.</p><p>LBD is closely connected to Parkinson's disease, meaning that many sufferers will develop Parkinson's as well - as happened to Robin Williams.</p><p>Many sufferers will first develop Parkinson's, suffering physical disabilities, before doctors diagnose their dementia. That is what happened to the late revered actor Robin Williams.</p><p>Some will start with memory loss that could be mistaken for the more common Alzheimer's disease. Over time, they will develop symptoms more clearly associated with LBD.</p><p>There is no known cause. What we do know is that risk increases with age.</p><p>At a cellular level, LBD is characterized by tiny clumps of abnormal proteins produced by the brain when its cells are not working properly.</p><p>They cause memory problems, although these don’t tend to be as severe as with Alzheimer’s — which is linked to a build-up of the protein beta-amyloid.</p><p>Another key difference is that Lewy body dementia affects regions of the brain responsible for vision, causing powerful hallucinations, nightmares and spatial-awareness problems.</p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p>Your comment will be posted to MailOnline as usual.</p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p> We will automatically post your comment and a link to the news story to your Facebook timeline at the same time it is posted on MailOnline. 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new research.</p><p>Regular consumption of red meat can raise levels of a cardiovascular disease causing chemical more than 10 times, suggests the study.</p><p>The organic compound - known as TMAO (trimethylamine N-oxide) - is produced in the gut during digestion.</p><p>High levels have been associated with increasing the risk of strokes, heart attacks and premature death.</p><p>Now the first study of its kind has shown they rose an average threefold among participants put on a red meat diet - in only a month.</p><p>Red meat elevates levels of TMAO which has been linked to the development of hardening of the arteries - or atherosclerosis - and heart disease complications</p><p>In some cases they soared ten-fold compared to those eating chicken or vegetarian based meals.</p><p>Dr Stanley Hazen, director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Microbiome and Human Health, said: 'This is the first study of our knowledge to show the kidneys can change how effectively they expel different compounds depending on the diet that one eats - other than salts and water.</p><p>'We know lifestyle factors are critical for cardiovascular health and these findings build upon our previous research on TMAO's link with heart disease.</p><p>'They provide further evidence for how dietary interventions may be an effective treatment strategy to reduce TMAO levels and lower subsequent risk of heart disease.'</p><p>It's produced when gut bacteria digest choline, lecithin and carnitine - nutrients abundant in animal products such as red meat and liver.</p><p>The study, published in the European Heart Journal, was based on blood and urine samples taken from 113 people.</p><p>They were provided with the three different meal plans in random order where red meat, white meat or vegetables provided 25 percent of their protein intake.</p><p>After they stopped the red meat diet, TMAO levels subsided over the following month.</p><p>The US team was surprised to discover the choice of diets changed the effectiveness of the kidneys to expel compounds.</p><p>Dr Hazen said red meat elevates levels of TMAO which has been linked to the development of hardening of the arteries - or atherosclerosis - and heart disease complications.</p><p>His earlier work has led to TMAO testing now being in clinical use around the world to measure cardiovascular disease risk.</p><p>Meanwhile another study by the same team, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, showed cardiovascular disease could be prevented by targeting a gut microbial pathway that converts carnitine into TMAO.</p><p>Carnitine - also used in energy drinks and supplements - can induce TMAO production even for vegans and vegetarians who continue eating their normal diets.</p><p>It follows the design of a potential new class of drugs earlier this year for prevention of heart disease and clotting by interrupting the microbial pathway by which choline is converted into TMAO.</p><p>Dr Hazen and colleagues compared the impact of daily carnitine pills on meat eaters with vegetarians.</p><p>The latter showed limited ability to produce TMAO from carnitine while the former did so rapidly.</p><p>After one month of supplementation, both groups showed an increased capacity to produce TMAO.</p><p>Dr Hazen said: 'It is remarkable that vegans and vegetarians can barely make TMAO from dietary carnitine.</p><p>'The striking new finding about the pathway induced by ingesting carnitine - even if only provided as a supplement in a capsule form - provides important insights about new interventions to inhibit TMAO, which may help reduce risks for cardiovascular disease,</p><p>'By uncovering this new pathway, we can potentially develop new treatments to interrupt this process before both the development and progression of cardiovascular disease.'</p><p>Heart disease is the biggest killer in every country in the world.</p><p>Red meat – such as beef, lamb and pork – is a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals, and can form part of a balanced diet.</p><p>But eating a lot of red and processed meat probably increases your risk of bowel cancer.</p><p>It's recommended people who eat more than 90g (cooked weight) of red and processed meat - which includes bacon and sausages - per day cut down to 70g.</p><p> The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline. </p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p>Your comment will be posted to MailOnline as usual.</p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p> We will automatically post your comment and a link to the news story to your Facebook timeline at the same time it is posted on MailOnline. 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oes not slow mental decline in old age, researchers have found.</p><p>But the activities do boost mental ability, so when the brain does start deteriorating there is a 'higher cognitive point' from which to decline.</p><p>Experts have long believed in the neurological theory of 'use it or lose it' - which suggests people who have complex jobs or do intellectual puzzles that tax the brain are protected against mental decline.</p><p>Puzzles such as crosswords or Sudoku do not slow the rate of cognitive decline, but create a 'higher cognitive point' from which decline can start from, a study found</p><p>They believed that exercising the brain throughout a lifetime slows the speed at which the brain deteriorates in old age.</p><p>Now, however, scientists from the University of Aberdeen have found this is not quite the case.</p><p>The team recruited 498 people at the age of 64 and tracked them for the next 15 years, monitoring their mental abilities throughout the period.</p><p>They found those who had engaged in intellectually stimulating activities on a regular basis had higher mental ability at the start of the study - but there was no difference in the speed at which they declined over the next 15 years.</p><p>The scientists, writing in the British Medical Journal, said: 'These results indicate that engagement in problem solving does not protect an individual from decline, but imparts a higher starting point from which decline is observed and offsets the point at which impairment becomes significant.'</p><p>The team said this supports the theory of 'cognitive reserve' - the ability that some people have to maintain their memory and IQ despite the impact of ageing.</p><p>This is because regularly using the brain for complex tasks creates a greater number of connections between brain cells.</p><p>So when the wiring of the brain starts the break down with age, or if dementia starts to attack, the brain has 'backup' networks to use instead.</p><p>The scientists wrote: 'This association suggests that engagement adds to an individual's cognitive reserve - that is, individuals who engage in regular problem solving activities might require greater age related neuropathological burdens before clinical thresholds of impairment are crossed and symptoms of cognitive decline are reported.' </p><p>Scientists have unveiled diet and lifestyle tips that maintain brain health in old age. </p><p>According to researchers from around the world 'what's good for the heart is good for the brain'.</p><p>They add that no single food acts as a 'silver bullet' for improving or maintaining brain health.</p><p>The experts have put together the following diet and lifestyle advice to help people preserve their brain health as they age.</p><p>Eating plenty of berries helps maintain people's brain health as they get older</p><p>Eleven researchers from the Global Council on Brain Health, including experts from the University of Exeter, met on September 12-to-13 2017 to discuss the impact of diet on the brain health of adults over 50. </p><p>Their recommendations are based on the evaluation of studies investigating the impact of nutrients on the cognitive function of older adults. </p><p> The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline. </p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p>Your comment will be posted to MailOnline as usual.</p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p> We will automatically post your comment and a link to the news story to your Facebook timeline at the same time it is posted on MailOnline. To do this we will link your MailOnline account with your Facebook account. We’ll ask you to confirm this for your first post to Facebook.</p><p>Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group</p>
lled the haunting flashbacks and anxiety of a Holocaust survivor who developed Alzheimer's, his family claims. </p><p>Alexander Spier spent three years in concentration camps, including Auschwitz-Birkenau and Bergen-Belsen, before he was freed in the liberation of 1945.</p><p>As soon as he was freed he reclaimed his life, emigrating to the US that same year, where he met his wife Sonja, they had a son and a daughter, and he worked hard, first as a jeweler and watchmaker, then heading up his own real estate business. </p><p>Tragically, in 2010, he was diagnosed with the age-related brain disease that consumed him for seven years until he passed away.</p><p>His relatives recall the trauma of watching him relive his war-era memories, shouting in Dutch and German: 'Where is my mother?' </p><p>But according to his son, Greg Spier, they managed to offer him one small piece of respite in the form of granola bars laced with cannabis, which they say eased his agitation and allowed him to sleep. </p><p>Spier passed away in 2017, and now the Spier Family Foundation is partnering with Harvard's McLean Psychiatric Hospital and paying for marijuana research in hopes of shedding fresh light on Alzheimer's and potentially offering better treatments. </p><p>Alexander Spier, of Foxborough, Massachusetts, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease almost 10 years ago. No long-term care or antipsychotic drugs helped his symptoms of disorientation and changes in mood and behavior. Pictured, Spier, right, with his son Greg</p><p>His family says his agitation subsided and he was able to sleep when he would eat granola bars laced with cannabis. Pictured, left to right: Spier's son Greg, his wife Sonja, Spier, and his daughter-in-law Kathryn in 2013</p><p>Spier grew up in Amsterdam, Holland, and was a member of the Dutch resistance during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands during World War II.</p><p>He was just 15 years old when he was captured in 1941 by Nazi troops.</p><p>Spier was tattooed with the identification number 164023 and spent the next three years in three different concentration camps before he was freed during the 1945 liberation. </p><p>He emigrated to the US at the end of World War II where he worked as a watchmaker and jeweler before starting a real estate company.</p><p>He met his wife Sonja in 1951 and they married after just 82 days of knowing each other. The couple moved to Foxborugh, Massachusetts, where they raised a son and a daughter.</p><p>Around 2010, Spier was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. </p><p>An estimated 5.7 million Americans of all ages are living with Alzheimer's disease in 2018.</p><p>Sufferers experience a decline in cognitive, behavioral and physical abilities and there is no cure.</p><p>According to Spier's son, Greg, his fathers declined rapidly in health for the final two years of his life. </p><p>'My father spoke five languages, and he was speaking Dutch and German, reliving the three concentration camps he survived.'</p><p>Greg says during those final two years, Spier would often plead in German: 'Where is my mother?'</p><p>About 50 percent of Alzheimer's patients develop what are known as neuropsychiatric symptoms, which include agitation, aggression and disorientation.</p><p>As his symptoms worsened, Spier was moved into a memory program in Florida, which is a form of long-term care that is designed to meet the specific needs of a person with Alzheimer's disease or dementia.</p><p>Doctors tried to treat him with antipsychotic and anti-seizure medications, but they only worsened his symptoms.</p><p>Greg told ABC News that he and a niece that lives in Colorado were the family members who decided to try marijuana edibles as a final resort.</p><p>Greg or the private assistant living with Spier would feed him cannabis granola bars up to four times a day during the final months of his life. </p><p>'The only thing that seemed to give him any reprieve was the marijuana,' Greg told ABC, saying the bars also helped his father sleep. </p><p>Spier died in September 2017 from Alzheimer's complications, and now the Spier Family Foundation is pushing for research on potential benefits of marijuana in Alzheimer's and dementia patients.</p><p>There has not been a great deal of research done on the effects of cannabis in Alzheimer's patients, but a few studies have showed promising findings.</p><p>THC is the psychoactive compound responsible for the euphoric, 'high' feeling often associated with marijuana.</p><p>Compared to the mice not treated with THC, mice that were treated had fewer lost brain cells, performed better on memory tests, and had 20 percent less of the plaques in the brain that are believed to cause cognitive decline. </p><p>Some studies conducted on mice showed that when the rodents were treated with THC, they performed better on memory tests and had fewer plaques in the brain that are believed to cause cognitive decline. Pictured: Spier in 2014</p><p>The Spier Family Foundation is partnering with Harvard's McLean Psychiatric Hospital and paying for marijuana research in hopes of shedding fresh light on Alzheimer's and potentially offering better treatments. Pictured: Spier in 2017</p><p>While several studies have linked cannabis use to long-term damage in teenage brains, Dr Brent Forester, chief of the division of geriatric psychiatry at McLean Hospital in Boston, said the same effects may not be true for people who begin in old age.</p><p>When they tested the mice in learning capacity and memory, results were just as good as those of two-month old mice. </p><p>Dr Forester and his team have partnered with the Spier family to conduct research on cannabis treatments in Alzheimer's patients. </p><p>They previously published a study in 2014 where they gave the synthetic THC drug dronabinol to patients diagnosed with dementia.</p><p>Results showed that the patients' agitation and sleep duration were improved, and they're now recruiting for a larger trial that will be funded by the National Institute on Aging. </p><p>'We really need to open up opportunities to study medical marijuana for this particular indication,' Dr Forester told ABC News.</p><p>'I think there's enough evidence from the synthetic THC as well as anecdotal reports that it's certainly worth studying.' </p><p>Last week, Minnesota joined 12 states and Washington, DC that allow residents to be prescribed medical marijuana either for Alzheimer’s or related symptoms.</p><p> The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline. </p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p>Your comment will be posted to MailOnline as usual.</p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p> We will automatically post your comment and a link to the news story to your Facebook timeline at the same time it is posted on MailOnline. 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cently revealed enviably toned arms on the red carpet. </p><p>However, her impressive figure is no accident - in fact, the 35-year-old actress puts in serious training for her roles. </p><p>Looking good! Lupita Nyong’o recently revealed enviably toned arms on the red carpet</p><p>On preparing for Black Panther, she said: ‘We had six weeks of boot camp before filming. It started off with four hours a day, which was exhausting.’</p><p>So how can you replicate her look? Here, we reveal the best exercises to get her sculpted arms. </p><p>- A raised push-up is good for arms. Position your hands on the floor over shoulder-width apart and in line with your chest. </p><p>- Raise your feet behind you onto a step or sofa. Engage stomach muscles. Bend arms to lower yourself towards the floor — your nose should almost touch the ground.</p><p>- Straighten the elbows and raise yourself back to the start position. </p><p>- Repeat to exhaustion and rest for 45 seconds. Perform four sets.</p><p>Treading the red carpet: The acclaimed 35-year-old star puts in serious training for her roles</p><p> The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline. </p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p>Your comment will be posted to MailOnline as usual.</p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p> We will automatically post your comment and a link to the news story to your Facebook timeline at the same time it is posted on MailOnline. To do this we will link your MailOnline account with your Facebook account. We’ll ask you to confirm this for your first post to Facebook.</p><p>Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group</p>
lete strangers her deeply personal story in a talk at Surrey Recovery College.</p><p>Although she finds it excruciatingly difficult to talk about herself, Janie, 55, explains to her classes how a deeply traumatic childhood caused severe anxiety and complex PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) that continues to this day.</p><p>Standing up to address a room full of strangers is a huge feat for Janie — her subconscious continually throws up distressing images, often when she’s least expecting them. An apparently innocuous event such as someone standing too close, can trigger a tsunami of emotion leaving her paralysed with fear.</p><p>Volunteers: As reported yesterday, the number of readers who’ve signed up to the Mail's new NHS campaign has hit 20,000 in a week — they’ve pledged an extraordinary 1.1 million hours</p><p>But the hardest thing for Janie, a graphic designer, who is single and from Dorking in Surrey, has been to admit that she has a mental illness because for a long time, she feared judgement, stigma and discrimination.</p><p>‘Even now, I struggle to say the words,’ she says. But she is so sure that the key to recovery is understanding the symptoms, she has pushed through her own discomfort to help others.</p><p>Working as a volunteer she now runs several courses, including one on understanding PTSD, for patients to help them understand their diagnosis. ‘Every course is written and co-developed by a professional alongside someone like me with “lived” experience,’ she explains. ‘If they were led by a clinical psychologist, people wouldn’t feel the same connection. Me standing there saying: “I’m in the same boat as you. I have lived experience of mental illness,” is what makes it so special.</p><p>‘I can see by their body language that people instantly feel: “Well if she’s OK, then maybe I’m going to be OK.” ’</p><p>Last month in recognition of her achievements, Janie was nominated for Helpforce’s Volunteer of the Year Award, which is run by the charity now working with the Mail to encourage people to volunteer in NHS hospitals. </p><p>As we reported yesterday, the number of readers who’ve signed up has hit 20,000 in just over a week — they’ve pledged an extraordinary 1.1 million hours.</p><p>Volunteers can help in a huge range of ways, from tending a hospital garden, to assisting stroke patients. Many volunteers use their own experiences as patients in their volunteering roles — such as at Surrey Recovery College.</p><p>The idea emerged in the Nineties and many NHS trusts now offer these schemes. It’s an educational rather than therapeutic approach to mental well-being and relies on volunteers.</p><p>One of its guiding principles is personal responsibility, teaching that: you’re not a patient, you’re a student; the subject you study is your own illness and you can learn from others how to become an expert in your own self-care.</p><p>Make a real difference: Volunteers can help in a huge range of ways, from tending a hospital garden, to assisting stroke patients</p><p>Janie took redundancy from a job in children’s illustration three years ago and began volunteering in September 2016 after doing some occupational therapy which involved making up care parcels for people entering mental health wards.</p><p>She now runs between two and three eight-week courses a term, taking in around 36 students aged 18 and over — all referred by their GPs and suffering different mental health problems.</p><p>There are courses on understanding bi-polar, hoarding and personality disorders; others cover managing intense emotions, moving on from self-harm and suicide prevention — for this, she worked with actors to develop suicide prevention training and shared her experiences with the cast to ensure the videos shown during sessions, were realistic and sensitive.</p><p>Whatever your skills or experience, you can make a valued and lasting impact. </p><p>You will join the volunteers working in hospitals or with organisations that support the NHS, such as the Royal Voluntary Service, Marie Curie, British Red Cross, and others. </p><p>She gives students lots of information about what goes on in the brain and teaches mechanisms to cope with the distress of flashbacks and nightmares. Janie’s helped people of all ages — from young adults to those in their 80s — some have battled with poor mental health all their lives. It’s something she understands because PTSD still affects her every single day.</p><p>A lorry coming up behind her in the street will make her feel vulnerable — someone passing too close to her in the supermarket will make her feel so threatened she has to leave.</p><p>‘A sudden noise or movement can give me the deepest sense of impending doom and I have no control over it,’ says Janie. ‘I will suddenly feel exactly as I did as a child — helpless, frightened, trapped . . . and there’s no escape.</p><p>‘So when someone says: “I have terrible flashbacks — how do I cope with them?” I’ll tell them how I manage. I use mindfulness to focus on my breathing which then calms my body down.</p><p>‘And I use distraction which helps to stop me slipping back into the past. It’s not about getting rid of these symptoms — because you may never fully lose them — the goal is to learn to manage them so you can live your life.’</p><p>Janie doesn’t remember a time as a child when she didn’t live in fear. ‘I never felt safe, never felt protected,’ she says. She does not want to go into detail about what happened to her but says as a child, she never knew happiness. ‘From the age of 15, I didn’t want to live. I’d never known warmth or joy, and I couldn’t see any point in living.’</p><p>Estate agent Murray Lee, 63, has volunteered as a DJ at Pulse hospital radio station at Watford General Hospital for eight months, presenting a two-hour show on Friday nights. Murray lives with his wife Barbara, 57, also an estate agent, in Bushey, Hertfordshire.</p><p>When I come off air I am buzzing even though it’s 10pm and I will have put in a long day at the office beforehand. I feel I could go on for hours.</p><p>I leave with a sense of elation —from knowing that you have done a service for others. I like to think the radio station acts as a little pick me up for the patients.</p><p>Before any of us DJs — there are between 15 and 20 of us at the station in total — go on air we go round the wards and introduce ourselves and ask people if they have any special requests.</p><p>Tom Jones is always popular, as are David Bowie and The Beatles. Then I might introduce the record with ‘and here is Frank Sinatra for Paul on ward 3’, for instance.</p><p>The idea is to give patients a little boost and something else to do, other than staring at the TV — the station is broadcast through the system by patients’ beds and they listen via headphones.</p><p>I’d always had a hankering to be a DJ — I volunteered at Edgware Hospital radio station 45 years ago briefly. I came across the opportunity to join Pulse by chance in August last year when I was sitting in the fracture clinic with my 92-year-old father. I picked up a hospital magazine and saw an appeal for volunteers for the radio station.</p><p>I’d had the urge to do something to give a bit back since my mum had a stroke in 2015. She spent three weeks in Watford General Hospital, unable to speak, before she passed away. The staff were amazingly kind to her and to me. So the opportunity to help out at the hospital that had done so much for her was appealing.</p><p>I applied last December and did some training in the new system — things have moved on since my previous experience when we had vinyl singles — now it’s computerised.</p><p>I also run a Twitter and Facebook page for the hospital which takes up a couple of hours a week — that’s where I get most of the feedback, sometimes live during the show — which is great fun.</p><p>Most of the time I have 40 to 50 listeners that I know of but one night I went viral and had 700 which was an amazing buzz.</p><p>Going round the wards people thank you, which is great. That’s what I enjoy about volunteering: the opportunity to do something for others that is in complete contrast to my day job. It’s just time to give something back and I love it.</p><p>Volunteering has helped with her self-esteem. Knowing other people rely on her helps motivate her on days when the world still seems a dark place. Students comment on her ‘kind, calm and caring manner’ and ‘Janie’s willingness to share and guide’. ‘Janie is fab,’ one says. ‘She speaks from the heart.’</p><p>Liz Holland, head of clinical effectiveness at Surrey and Borders partnership NHS Trust, who nominated Janie for last month’s Helpforce Awards, says: ‘Janie is so passionate about the idea of hope, she shares her experiences openly in order to help inspire others.</p><p>‘She has grown so much in courage and confidence through her volunteering work. I have been in the room when people have fed back how what she has shared has helped them in their own safety and recovery.’</p><p>Janie only sought help for her own problems in her mid-40s when she began to be poleaxed by terrifying flashbacks to childhood incidents. Her GP referred her for cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) but what she would have liked then, is to talk to someone who had suffered a mental health crisis themselves, who understood the fear, isolation and shame.</p><p>‘The stigma was huge,’ she says. ‘I went for CBT every week but if the word “therapy” slipped out at work, I’d pretend it was physiotherapy rather than psychiatric therapy because I didn’t want anyone to know.’</p><p>As many as one in four of us will experience a mental illness at some point. Janie feels strongly that no one should have to go through the anguish she did. To begin, she was so lacking in self worth she couldn’t make eye contact with ‘students’. ‘I couldn’t believe how open everyone was about their difficulties,’ she says. ‘There was such enormous camaraderie and trust, and I found that incredibly moving.’</p><p>She takes on freelance work as an illustrator, but her teaching role — technically two days a week — but which in fact amounts to ‘uncountable hours’ is unpaid and money, she admits, is tight. But she says: ‘I’d rather be doing something I’m passionate about and which helps other people, than earning what I was before.’</p><p>Janie is careful not to give false expectations. ‘Everyone has bad days,’ she says. ‘What I want to get across to the students is that recovery is possible and it begins with learning as much as you can about your own illness and how it affects you.</p><p>‘The best thing I can do is give people the seed of kindness and help them to look after themselves. This is something most of them have never considered.’</p><p>Tears well in her eyes as she describes a student who completed the PTSD course last December and is back in full-time work. ‘She told me: “Meeting you and doing the course completely changed my life.”</p><p>‘You don’t go into volunteering expecting that kind of feedback. But to realise that you’ve really touched someone, and planted hope inside them when life was utterly joyless, that’s incredibly powerful.’</p><p>We asked our readers to find time to help patients and take pressure off frontline staff.</p><p>Vital hospital roles include mentoring patients, providing friendship and even being a blood courier.</p><p>The recruitment drive – the biggest in Britain since the 2012 Olympics and backed by health unions – is a partnership between the Mail and the charity Helpforce.</p><p>The Daily Mail is asking readers to find time to help patients and take pressure off staff</p><p>Vital hospital roles include mentoring patients, providing friendship and even being a blood courier </p><p>Those who sign up for the Christmas appeal will be asked to pledge as little as a day a month, or three hours a week, for a minimum of six months.</p><p>An estimated 78,000 volunteers already contribute to the NHS, yet the growing complexities of delivering health and social care for an ageing population mean the need for help is greater than ever.</p><p>Hospital consultations have doubled in a decade – from 11million in 2008/9 to more than 20million last year.</p><p>And last week a report identified a sharp rise in emergency admissions, while there are more than 100,000 staff vacancies in the service.</p><p>This puts frontline staff under immense pressure, creating the need for volunteers to step in with practical support and a helping hand.</p><p>Prospective volunteers can register their interest by filling out a simple form online. They will be matched with an NHS trust, with placements running from the spring, depending on availability and subject to the necessary checks.</p><p>Volunteer roles could include befriending patients, collecting prescriptions and even running singing groups. Others may use their own experiences of cancer or mental health to comfort others.</p><p>Surplus volunteers could be referred to charities such as Marie Curie and the British Red Cross.</p><p> The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline. </p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p>Your comment will be posted to MailOnline as usual.</p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p> We will automatically post your comment and a link to the news story to your Facebook timeline at the same time it is posted on MailOnline. To do this we will link your MailOnline account with your Facebook account. We’ll ask you to confirm this for your first post to Facebook.</p><p>Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group</p>
p><p>But scientists have discovered the stripey pests may help combat the antibiotic resistance crisis - and not just a pose a threat to your picnic. </p><p>Researchers adapted the properties of wasp venom in the lab and tested its effect on the deadly, antibiotic-resistant bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa.</p><p>Wasp venom is known to wipe out dangerous bacteria but can also be extremely painful (stock)</p><p>The team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found the venom completely wiped out the bacteria within four days - and caused no pain. </p><p>The study comes amid growing fears of antibiotic resistance, driven by the unnecessary doling out of the drugs, which has turned once harmless bacteria into superbugs.</p><p>The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned if nothing is done the world is heading for a 'post-antibiotic' era. In the US alone, around 2million become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria every year, resulting in at least 23,000 deaths.</p><p>Pneumonia, tuberculosis, gonorrhoea, and salmonellosis are among the growing number of infections that are becoming harder to treat. </p><p>The research was led by the microbiologist and immunologist Dr Cesar de la Fuente-Nunez and published in the journal Communications Biology. </p><p>'We've repurposed a toxic molecule into one that is a viable molecule to treat infections,' he said. </p><p>'By systematically analysing the structure and function of these peptides, we've been able to tune their properties and activity.'</p><p>Peptides are the building blocks of proteins, with virtually all creatures on the planet producing ones that kill microbes by breaking down their cell structure. </p><p>Antibiotics have been doled out unnecessarily by GPs and hospital staff for decades, fueling once harmless bacteria to become superbugs. </p><p>The World Health Organization (WHO) has previously warned if nothing is done the world is heading for a 'post-antibiotic' era.</p><p>It claimed common infections, such as chlamydia, will become killers without immediate solutions to the growing crisis.</p><p>Bacteria can become drug resistant when people take incorrect doses of antibiotics or if they are given out unnecessarily. </p><p>Chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies claimed in 2016 that the threat of antibiotic resistance is as severe as terrorism.</p><p>Figures estimate that superbugs will kill 10 million people each year by 2050, with patients succumbing to once harmless bugs.</p><p>Around 700,000 people already die yearly due to drug-resistant infections including tuberculosis (TB), HIV and malaria across the world. </p><p>Concerns have repeatedly been raised that medicine will be taken back to the 'dark ages' if antibiotics are rendered ineffective in the coming years.</p><p>In addition to existing drugs becoming less effective, there have only been one or two new antibiotics developed in the last 30 years.</p><p>In September, the WHO warned antibiotics are 'running out' as a report found a 'serious lack' of new drugs in the development pipeline.</p><p>Without antibiotics, C-sections, cancer treatments and hip replacements will become incredibly 'risky', it was said at the time.</p><p>The researchers identified one particular peptide in the venom of a South American wasp species, called Polybia paulista, which was previously investigated as a cancer treatment.</p><p>This peptide is only made up of 12 amino acids - the building blocks of peptides - which makes it easy to manipulate.</p><p>'It's a small enough peptide that you can try to mutate as many amino acid residues as possible to try to figure out how each building block is contributing to antimicrobial activity and toxicity,' Dr de la Fuente said. </p><p>The researchers developed a few dozen variations of the peptide, which they tested against seven species of bacteria and two of fungi to see how well they broke the pathogens down.</p><p>This enabled the scientists to discover the specific structures and properties of the peptide that were most effective against the microbes, which could then be refined. </p><p>The refined peptides were then tested for toxicity on lab-grown human kidney cells before they were given to mice infected with P. aeruginosa. </p><p>This bacteria can cause pneumonia and urinary tract infections in people with weak immune systems, such as those with cystic fibrosis. </p><p>Several of the peptides reduced the level of infection but one completely eradicated it. </p><p>'After four days, that compound can completely clear the infection, and that was quite surprising and exciting', Dr de la Fuente said.</p><p>'We don't typically see that with other experimental antimicrobials or other antibiotics that we've tested in the past with this particular mouse model.'</p><p>Antibiotics start working immediately after being taken, but most people do not feel better for two-to-three days.</p><p>The drugs usually need to be taken for one or two weeks, however, this varies depending on the type of treatment and infection. </p><p>The researchers are investigating if the same level of effectiveness can be achieved with a lower, and therefore likely safer, amount of venom.</p><p>A number of drugs are already in development to assess the potential of antimicrobial peptides in treating resistant infections, however, many medications fail to pass clinical trials.</p><p>However, even if wasp venom ends up being a dead end, the researchers believe their findings can be applied to other antimicrobial proteins to search for a wider range of solutions. </p><p>An Englishman who caught the 'world's worst' case of super-gonorrhoea was cured in April 2018 with a last-ditch antibiotic.</p><p>In the first recorded case worldwide, the unidentified man caught a version of the sexually transmitted infection (STI) that was resistant to two crucial drugs.</p><p>Health officials revealed he caught it from a one-night stand with a woman during his travels to south east Asia earlier this year - despite having a girlfriend in the UK.</p><p>Public Health England (PHE) issued a warning over the the STI, which is resistant to ceftriaxone and azithromycin - the two drugs recommended for gonorrhoea.</p><p>In a statement, the Government agency revealed the man - whose location has also been withheld - was cured with the antibiotics ertapenem.</p><p>Dr Gwenda Hughes, head of STIs at PHE, said: 'We are pleased to report the case of multi-drug resistant gonorrhoea has been successfully treated. </p><p>'Investigations have also revealed there has been no further spread of this infection within the UK.'</p><p>Dr Hughes did warn that 'we expect to see further cases of multi-drug resistant gonorrhoea in the future'. </p><p>World Health Organization (WHO) experts raised fears two years ago the STI, once known as the 'clap', could become immune to antibiotics in a 'matter of years'.</p><p> The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline. </p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p>Your comment will be posted to MailOnline as usual.</p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p> We will automatically post your comment and a link to the news story to your Facebook timeline at the same time it is posted on MailOnline. To do this we will link your MailOnline account with your Facebook account. We’ll ask you to confirm this for your first post to Facebook.</p><p>Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group</p>