Evidence vs Email: the response
Around 3 years ago, I wrote an article, complaining about the tediousness and illegality of NHSmail, the compulsory email service that I am forced to use daily. At the time, filled with self righteousness, I emailed a copy of my rant to NHS.net support.
It took two years… but they replied to me, so I thought I would include the email below, to those of you annoyed by many of the same features.
Whilst I don’t think it answers many of the points I put out, I do understand that they are on a limited budget: indeed, the whole future of the nhs.net system was put under threat under funding issues 12 months ago.
Ultimately, the bit that was most irritating, and that which strayed most from evidence, was the monthly password changes, which have since been changed to quarterly. So basically, I think I won.
Enjoy the letter below…
Thank you for taking the time to respond to our user survey.
I have been asked to contact you regarding NHSmail accessibility.
NHSmail has been designed as an accessible product for use by NHS staff and to be primarily accessed from an NHS location/device. When accessing NHSmail from an NHS location as part of local information governance requirements this can only be done from an NHS device which must have protection against malicious software such as keystroke logging software. Visually impaired or blind NHS staff can easily access the service from an NHS location/device where no on screen keyboard is displayed with either a desktop email programme such as Outlook or through the web browser which is AAA/AA compliant and both work very well with JAWS.
In addition to access from an NHS location the service does support incidental internet use subject to compliance with local information governance policies. As someone could potentially logon from an unsecured internet end point such as an Internet café there is a real risk of the users password being intercepted by key logging software which is why we had to utilise the on screen keyboard.
Visually impaired or blind NHS members of staff can also take advantage of incidental internet use in a number of ways all subject to compliance with local information governance requirements. As with NHS access, Outlook provides the best user experience with JAWS which has been confirmed by our many visually impaired/blind users of email. Mobile devices can also be used. The iPhone has for example a good built in capability and the TALKS software also works well with NHSmail. Finally should there be a specific requirement to not use Outlook e.g. local information governance requirements then we would expect the member of staff to raise this with their employer as part of their workstation assessment and request the ability to remotely access the NHS network from their device.
I note for example your comments on the password policy which was changed to a 90 day expiry period requiring only 4 changes a year.
While we have the same governance and financial constraints as the rest of the NHS we do strive to offer the best service we can. I note for example your comments on the password policy which was changed to a 90 day expiry period requiring only 4 changes a year. In terms of the password requirements we use the standard built in policy that comes with the product which is used by most NHS and business systems which is again in response to user feedback less complicated than it used to be.
If you would like to discuss this or indeed anything else about the service please feel free to call me.
NHSmail Technical Architect
CMF National Conference
I can say that it was fantastic the level of child care provided: Joen spent most of the sessions eating raw pasta and pushing over other children, whilst at night, babysitting patrols roamed the corridors listening for crying. Without this, I don’t think we would have enjoyed things at all.
The topic of the conference was “Integrity”. Based on 2 Corinthians, the main sessions were led by Jonathan Lamb, head of international preaching at the Langham Partnership. I really enjoyed the talks, but if I’m completely honest, I also spent a lot of them standing outside, trying to stop a baby from vomiting & crying. There’s a preview below, or you can watch the full talks on the CMF website.
Aside from the main talks, there was a lot of fellowship, and some epic book salesmanship from the chap at TenofThose.com. I’m still working myself through the pile!
So, a pretty sparse review of the event, but I’d recommend it to anyone wondering how best to live life as a Christian and a doctor. Also, if you want to be a blogger who posts regularly, don’t have kids!
Stuffed Butternut with Lentil & Garlic Bread
Last night, we had some lentils, some mushrooms, and a rapidly ageing squash in the cupboard. And we wanted dinner, and I fancied cooking, and so we decided to make the best of those limited ingredients.
I tried some of those recipe suggestion sites, but they all basically gave up at “lentils”, let alone “butternut squash”, so I decided to throw things together and just hope for the best. Thus, my disclaimer below will be even more relevant than usual…
Disclaimer: I am a proud member of the chuck-it-in-it’ll-be-fine school of cooking. I firmly believe a happy cook just throws stuff in a pan, rather than measuring 18g of this and 3.5 medium egg yolks of that; so take my measurements with a pinch of salt, so to speak. This recipe makes around 2 large rolls, and 2 halves of a stuffed butternut.
Lentil and Garlic Bread
This bread is surprisingly tasty, and very filling. Try not to overdo the lentils, or it will be very heavy.
- Small onion
- At least a hundred cloves of garlic (or maybe just 1-2)
- 70g red lentils
- 250mls vegetable stock
- 300g white bread flour
- 1 packet instant dried yeast
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp salt
- Beaten egg
- Fry a bucketload of garlic, with a small onion, very thinly sliced.
- Add the lentils and the vegetable stock, and cook for 10 minutes, until the lentils are soft and cooked, and the vegetable stock has mostly evaporated.
- In a big mixing bowl, add the yeast, salt, sugar and flour. Mix ‘em together, then add the lentil-garlic mix, and knead together with hands.
- Keep kneading until you have one big lumpy ball of dough, no longer sticky. You may need to add more flour.
- Chuck it on the worktop with plenty of flour, and knead it and fold it into itself for about 5 minutes – this is to get air into the dough.
- Leave it in the bowl somewhere warm for an hour, with a damp teatowel over the top.
- Start making the Butternut, below. Then you can have a cup of tea, and come back to 8…
- Take it out of the bowl – it should have doubled in size – and knead it a little bit more, rolling it into rolls or small loaves. As you can see in the picture, I made some braided rolls. Leave the rolls to rise for half an hour.
- Whilst this is happening, you can sort out the stuffing for the butternut below…
- Using a pastry brush, paint egg all over the rolls, to give a nice crispy brown shell, and pop the rolls in the oven with the butternut. When the rolls are brown, everything is ready.
Stuffed Butternut Squash
- A butternut squash, obviously
- Olive oil
- Salt & pepper
- Vegetables for the stuffing
- Roughly 4 tbsp sugar
- Two slices of bread
- Beaten egg
- A small pile of grated cheese
- Take a butternut (trying not to notice how phallic it is) and cut it in half along its length. Scoop out the seeds and stuff in the hole, then sprinkle it with a little oil, and season like crazy with salt and pepper. Score the top with a big knife in a cross cross pattern – this helps it cook faster, and looks professional too! Chuck it in the oven for about an hour at 190°C (fan oven).
- Whilst that’s cooking, don’t forget to skip up and roll out the bread. Then you can come back here and do step 3…
- Take some mushrooms, onions and peppers (or whatever veg you want – no meat, you murderers). I used about 8 mushrooms, 2 small onions and a pepper – but it can be more depending how big the hole in your squash is. Chop them all into small strips, and fry them with some herbs. Once they are cooked through, add the sugar, and mix until the sugar makes everything go nicely brown (caramelised).
- Gently toast some bread a couple of times, until its rock solid (but not burnt). Crumble the toast up in your hands until its mostly breadcrumbs, and mix it with the egg and grated cheese.
- Take out the slightly browned butternut halves, gloop all the caramelised vegetables into the holes, and cover them with a thick layer of the eggy, bready, cheesey mix. Pop it in the oven for 15-20 mins and Bob’s your caramelised, stuffed and breadcrumbed uncle.
- Don’t forget to finish the rolls above now…
Vegan Calzone Recipe
I’ve spent many years playing with pizza recipes – my wife and I even created our own “How to make Pizza” recipe poster on our honeymoon.
So when Now Then magazine put out a call for vegan recipes, it seemed a good opportunity to provide my Calzone recipe. Here it is, in all its glory: enjoy!
Disclaimer: I am a proud member of the chuck-it-in-it’ll-be-fine school of cooking. I firmly believe a happy cook just throws stuff in a pan, rather than measuring 18g of this and 3.5 medium egg yolks of that; so take my measurements with a pinch of salt, so to speak. This recipe makes around 3-4 calzones.
- About 200g of strong bread flour (around 12% protein is best).
- Warm water.
- Few spoons of salt.
- Few spoons of sugar.
- Dried instant yeast (assuming you aren’t a brand of vegan that cares about fungi. If you do, miss out the yeast, it’ll still work, but the bread won’t be as tasty).
- Tomato passata (the own brand stuff from Co-op works fine).
- Vegan mozzarella style cheese.
- Soya milk.
- Prewarm the oven to 70°C (If you want to get the dough ready quickly. It’ll be tastier if you leave it to rise over 4 hours without extra warmth, but it’ll take 4 hours.)
- Mix the salt, sugar and yeast in a bowl.
- Stir in the flour, so it’s all nicely mixed.
- Carefully add water, mixing by hand, until you have one non-sticky ball of dough.
- Knead it on a floured surface for about 5 minutes, until your hands ache.
- Turn off the oven, chuck the dough back in the bowl, cover the bowl with a teatowel, and put the bowl in the oven.
- Leave to rise for an hour.
- Take it out, knead it some more, and roll it into flat round pizza bases.
- Fry a load of onions, peppers, mushrooms, garlic, chilli, spinach, soya mince – whatever you want in your calzone.
- Mix in some herbs & spices – I usually use mixed herbs, paprika and mild chilli powder (but loads of it, so you get the taste of the chilli coming through).
- Put a few dollops of passata in with the veg.
- Heat the rest of the passata in a pan/microwave.
- Preheat oven to 230°C – the higher the better.
- Pop a pizza base on an oven tray.
- Dollop veg in to the middle.
- Cover the veg in cheese – you can use soft cheese, or nothing, if you prefer.
- Using a pastry brush, make the edges of the base wet with milk.
- Fold it over, and squidge the edges together to seal it.
- Paint the whole top with milk, to make it go extra brown in the oven.
- Cook for 10ish minutes, until brown.
- Serve with hot passata on top
Then eat all yours, then eat what your wife couldn’t manage, then look longingly at the one saved for tomorrow… Man, do I love pizza…
The Journey to Neriah
On Sunday, our little family got a little bigger. The beautiful Neriah Grace Lowry came into the world at 7:30pm. Just like Joen, the journey to Neriah was hard work.
Once again, thanks to everyone who followed the blow-by-blow account on twitter – read it here - including at least two people over the age of 80. Who says social media is just for young people? Anyway, enough of that, on with the story…
I’m currently working in Lincoln, around 1-2 hours from our home in Boston, and in the month preceding labour, Katherine seemed to enjoy sending me texts containing phrases like “baby’s coming!”. I would frantically call her, where she would explain that she simply meant “at some point”, so she was tidying the house in preparation. By my estimate, I had at least 4 heart attacks in January because of communication like this.
On Friday, my parents-in-law came up to help look after Joen. I have successfully not thrown milk at either of them, which is a significant improvement over last time! It was brilliant to have them around so Joen could get used to them before we disappeared to the hospital.
Just like last time, we sailed past the due date (15th January), and ended up going into labour a few days before we were booked for induction. On Saturday at 4pm-ish, Katherine started to have her first sporadic contractions. By 7pm, they had become regular and painful.
12 hours later, there was very little progress. Lots of pain, but no progress.
At half 8, they were down to every 2 minutes, and rather intense. We rang the hospital, who advised us to come in. I was a little hesitant to do this, since last time she’d had similar symptoms for 10 hours+, but was only 3cm dilated when we made it in to hospital. However, deciding it was for the best, we threw everything into the car and scurried over to the labour ward.
As the tweet below shows, I was right not to be too keen:
From this point until 10:30am – about 12 hours later, there was very little progress. Lots of pain, but no progress. One midwife thought she was up to 4cm, but on re-examination 5 hours later, a different midwife felt that this couldn’t be the case.
They decided to break her waters at 11, which really kicked things off - she had 12 very painful contractions in the space of 30 minutes. She soon ran out of relief from the gas and air, and was given her first dose of morphine.
By 3, the morphine was wearing off, and Katherine decided she wanted an epidural. Unfortunately, the anaesthetists were busy in theatre, and I was going a little bit frantic in wanting to sort her pain. Given that I currently work in palliative care, where I am comfortable prescribing piles of opiates every day, it was so frustrating not being able to hurry up her analgesia.
They eventually gave her some more morphine at 5pm, just an hour and a half after I had suggested it, and she was finally able to settle down a little. The contractions had been going steadily for hours now, and she had dilated to 9.5cm!
It was at this point that a light of rage appeared in Katherine’s eyes.
At 5:50, 10cm was reached, and Katherine began to push. I will open myself up for criticism here and say that I don’t think was really pushing that hard at first. We hit an hour of pushing with no baby, and the Registrar doctor came in, and told us that she was going to have to use forceps as the pushing was going on for too long.
It was at this point that a light of rage appeared in Katherine’s eyes. Given a 15 minute reprieve, and spurred on by the midwife, “Come on Katherine, we don’t need forceps!”, Katherine began to push like a successful Sisyphus. After just 3 more contractions, there was a screaming head sticking out of my wife, and just one more later and our beautiful daughter was released into the world.
Although disappointed not to use her shiny tongs, the doctor seemed happy enough getting to play with needles and thread, sorting out the second degree perineal tear, and even found time to quiz me on the theory of Obstetrics – I will be working under this registrar in April!
We were both fairly oblivious to this, since there was a disgusting, blood covered angel dripping on us, and looking into our eyes. Glorious!
This is Neriah.
Full name: Neriah Grace Lowry (or “Nia” for short).
“Neriah” is Hebrew, and means “Light of God“. We pronounce it “Ner-ee-ah”.
She was born at 7:30pm on 20th January 2013. She weighed 7 pounds 9 ounces.
Her hobbies include avoiding accidental injury from her boisterous older brother, submitting to being sniffed suspiciously by dogs, and throughout remaining surprisingly content. We don’t know much else about her.
The right decision for the wrong reasons.
There has been an awful lot of discussion about the decision not to allow women bishops in the Church of England. I’m going to be nice and controversial here: I think its the right decision.
The problem with this debate is it misses a much deeper argument. It’s not “should women be bishops”, it’s “should there be bishops”, and “who should be leaders”.
A little background
Before I wade into this, let me just state my conflicts of interests and biases.
I grew up in the CofE. It’s traditional ways and general dullness convinced me of the irrelevance of Christianity at an early age. I became an agnostic/atheist around 14, and stopped going, alongside pretty much all my peers.
Thankfully, aged 17, a friend took me to a free church where I was shown how much challenge, excitement and goodness there is at the heart of the Gospel. The process has led me to feel very concerned at how badly the Anglican church misses the point, and misses people in the process: I’ve been fortunate – very few of my peers have returned to the church we grew up in.
Unbiblical and unnecessary
To those of you who have no idea what the whole “ordained” thing is about, or the church thing in general: I apologise for all the jargon. I also apologise for the very religious sounding nonsense that is all over the news at the moment – sadly, it’s basically nothing to do with Christianity.
Basically, a church is a big group of people, who generally meet together regularly. We believe God loves us, and we try to love him and each other.
Like any big group of people, a church needs people leading them. In the old school out-of-touch, irritatingly-religious churches, this is usually an ordained “priest”, who wears a special dress, and is the only one allowed to bless bread and wine, and perform a number of other activities. In the New Testament, its pretty clearly pointed out that “priests” are no longer needed: we are all part of the priesthood, we can all have relationship with God.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.
1 Peter 2:19
I feel the Anglican church is trying to find some solid ground for building change to the church leadership. But the biblical foundation for their current setup, well, isn’t there. Which makes it pretty hard to argue the biblical plus sides either way.
If you’ve seen Rush Hour, there’s a bit where Carter (seen right) is talking to his cousin, Luke, who is a gangster.
Carter: Why you didn’t come to church sunday?
Luke: I had some things to take care of, but I made the night service, though.
It seems ridiculous to think of a guy who bunked church in the morning, to participate in criminal activities, making sure he attends an evening service, as if such a superficial action can make up for an otherwise wrong lifestyle. To me, it seems similar to have raging arguments about the best way to have a sort of “super ordained” clergy, to reign over the other ordained clergy, when the New Testament blatantly doesn’t condone the whole priest thing anyway!
The damage we fail to mention
When it comes to Bishops, as in those with the special hats and colourful robes and special shiny sticks (see above): its just a load of tosh. Not only is it unbiblical, but it’s ridiculously alienating. Say you had no idea about Christianity, no idea about God, and you went to church to find out more? And you went to church and saw a man who looked like a cross between a Panto Dame and a extra from Star Trek. It’s not exactly going to encourage you to look into the sayings of Jesus more, is it?
So, that’s my conclusion. Women Bishops? Nope. Male Bishops? Also no. Let’s have a few overseers in each area, which is what the Bible told us to do, and lets #BanTheBishop!