Rupert Beale

13 October 2023

Bursectomised Chickens, and Other Breakthroughs

For their work on understanding and using the chemical modifications of RNA to make better vaccines, Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman have been awarded this year’s Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine – the only surprise being that they didn’t get it last year. Your share of the prize has probably been deposited into your deltoid muscle, if at some point you got the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna Covid vaccine.

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12 January 2016

Why They Strike

It’s wrong to jeopardise patient care, even if it means working very long hours for mediocre pay. That’s why junior doctors will often turn up to work if they are themselves ill, and why they haven't gone on strike for forty years. The leader of the BMA Junior Doctors described today as ‘the saddest day in our profession’s recent history’. It’s difficult to disagree. This is not because emergency care was compromised. The service provided by junior doctors today was on a par with that of a bank holiday (the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton was more disruptive to the NHS). Around 3500 patients had elective procedures cancelled, though, and this dispute isn’t their fault.

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10 December 2015

On Course for Disaster

I was one of ten thousand people who marched on Westminster to protest against the unjust and unsafe imposition of a new deal for junior doctors by an arrogant government. The reforms treated us like cogs in a malfunctioning machine, abolishing our autonomy and any consideration for family life. We cheered as the leader of the opposition spoke up for us, told us how much the NHS meant to him, and explained how the government had got it wrong by undervaluing junior doctors. The year was 2007, and the speaker was David Cameron.

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23 September 2015

An Inadequate and Outstanding Hospital

In Yes Minister, 'one of the best run hospitals in the country' turns out to have a major advantage: it has no patients. This week, the Care Quality Commission said that the hospital I work at, Addenbrooke's in Cambridge, is 'inadequate', despite acknowledging that the care provided to patients is 'outstanding', with one of the lowest standardised mortality rates in the UK. This outstanding hospital is so inadequate that it's been placed in what are euphemistically termed 'special measures'.

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