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Is it time to tackle Britain’s alcohol problem? | Letters

Our readers respond to news that doctors have urged the government to bring in minimum unit pricing for alcohol as research reveals the extent of liver disease

Your article (Doctors warn of soaring UK alcohol deaths, 24 July) did not refer to an important element in the question of “soaring alcohol deaths” – alcoholism.

This disease is the silent destroyer of thousands of lives, families and careers. It is a terrible, all-consuming illness, not just a tramp lying drunk on a park bench. The medical profession is remarkably ill-informed about alcoholism, and very few hospital and GP doctors recognise the …read more

Fill your Boots basket, but not with condoms | Brief letters

Boots’ pre-1960s contraceptive ban | The reality of retirement | Microdot electric car | Austen heroine’s longing for balls | Cornwall’s east coast? | Air pollution and sperm counts

Boots’ attitude to contraception is nothing new (Boots faces boycott over high cost of morning-after pills, 21 July). Up until the 1960s it would not sell condoms at all lest it encourage promiscuity, and even after 1961 staff were reminded that the only exception was “where they are ordered by a medical man himself, or where a genuine prescription is handed in”. Further, Lord Trent, son of Boots’ founding father, …read more

Making babies is beginning to look as difficult for men as it always has been for women

The sperm count of men in the west has halved in 40 years. Changing lifestyles won’t help. The problem is an environmental one

Men. You had one job. And now look what’s happened! The sperm count of western men has fallen by half in 40 years. It is likely to decline further. This is a wake-up call. Human extinction beckons. Twitter, in its full nihilistic embrace, has welcomed this news as good. It is kind of funny. Sperm always is somehow, especially if your job description is harridan, as mine is. For although there are millions of the damn squirmers …read more

Helen Carty obituary

Pioneering paediatric radiologist and authority on the x-ray diagnosis of child abuse

When Helen Carty was appointed in 1975 as a specialist in paediatric radiology at the Royal Liverpool Children’s hospital in Alder Hey, Merseyside, x-rays were just about the only tool available to diagnose many disorders in children. Helen, who has died aged 72, set about changing all that. She became a driving force in developing the full range of imaging technology, ultrasound, nuclear medicine and CT and MRI scanning that is now in use with children, and an important expert witness in cases of child abuse.

Paediatric radiology, as with …read more

Dementia nurses provide a lifeline for carers that is all too rare

Although specialist Admiral nurses can prevent hospital admissions and save money, there are only 200 in the UK and many counties have none at all

Kate and Jon Henderson have devoted the past decade to looking after their 67-year-old mother, Sally, who has dementia. At first the siblings, who, until this February shared their bungalow in Rottingdean, near Brighton with her, were able to cope. But as Sally’s condition worsened, she began to lose her balance and had to use a wheelchair. Her speech deteriorated so much that Jon and Kate had to anticipate her needs by reading her body language. …read more