The Central Nervous System if it were the London Underground

When studying the Central Nervous System, I used to try and remember what every component was and how it it all fits together. So, I tried to think of something visual that makes sense to me (and many others too), and thought of the London Underground Tube Map – a map that’s not to scale, but is nevertheless still ordered, accurate and logical. This was my brainchild.

Central Nervous System Map – Click here to view in High Resolution

London’s Calling: CLAPA Adult Services Coordinator Position

I am excited to announce that in December I was offered and have subsequently accepted the position of UK Adult Services Coordinator with the Cleft Lip and Palate Association (CLAPA). This is a 3 year fixed term position based in Central London, but my role will be covering all corners of the UK ensuring that every adult born with a cleft can access support whether they’re residing in Waterloo or Wick. The role is an exciting and varied one researching the unique challenges faced by people with cleft in adulthood, and developing a programme to address those challenges. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first role of its type in the world dedicated to looking at the needs of adults, and I am optimistic that the knowledge gained will extend well beyond the UK. I am confident that my background both as a person born with cleft lip and palate and as a practicing Speech Language Therapist will serve me well in this role.

I think for those who know me well, it is probably not too difficult to see why this role appeals to me, although I’m sure you can appreciate that coming to this decision has not been an easy one. When I was offered the role, I was incredibly torn, particularly because I am incredibly content in my current roles and was not otherwise looking for a change. However, this is an incredible opportunity where I sincerely hope to make a tangible difference, an opportunity that I would not wish to pass up.

Whilst I am delighted to be able to see those of you who live in the UK & Europe much more often, I will be leaving New Zealand with the heaviest (and fullest) of hearts. I love New Zealand, I love the people here – my family, friends and others whom I have met here, the city I live in – over the last 17 and a half years New Zealand has become home (alongside the UK – I consider myself very lucky to have two countries I consider home). I am very fortunate that in this new role, I will have a leave entitlement which will allow me to return to New Zealand each year for Christmas and to soak up some of the January sun. Of course, the world is also an increasingly smaller place, and so I fully expect to be hosting visitors from NZ to London on a regular basis!

I will also be leaving my roles at The TalkLink Trust and Plains FM, two roles and organisations which I love and care a great deal about – in both cases made so incredible by the people I have the privilege of working with everyday – in many cases, people who I now consider to be good friends.

I will start my new role in March. Thank you to those of you here in NZ who have supported me in this journey, I have greatly appreciated your advice and overwhelming sense of support for the decision which I have made.

Your Healthcare: Why You Should Vote This Election

I have been alarmed in recent weeks at the number of people who I have casually mentioned the election to, and who have decided not to vote as they feel their vote will not make a difference or that whichever government is in power will not make a great deal of difference to them.

This is where you are wrong.

Most of the people who I work with are heavy users of the state funded healthcare system whether we realise it or not – cleft treatment is surprisingly expensive and we are very fortunate in New Zealand that this is a state funded enterprise and we are incredibly privileged that the leaders in the field of cleft care are available to us freely through the state system. For at least the last 10 years, we have had a cleft care system that is available to all those in New Zealand regardless of location, with no cap on age, cost of procedures or number of procedures. That in itself puts us so far above many other systems, including that of the United States.

Nothing is static though – over the past 10 years we have seen great progress in the level of care and expertise on offer through the state system, and in my professional opinion, the quality of cleft care available through the state system at the current time is the best on offer in New Zealand as this is where the expertise and experience lies. But because nothing is static and this is a costly exercise which is currently met by the taxpayer, we have to appreciate that not everyone feels as grateful for the system as we do or should. Depending on the composition and representation of a government, we could potentially see an increase in privatisation of health care and a reduction or cap on state funded services. How does that sit with you?

This is where it is so important to vote for what you believe in, and to understand that presently you are a heavy user of a government service, so you should take the time to read the various parties’ policies with regard to that service.

I have nothing to gain by telling you to vote for a particular party, but I urge you to be passionate about this by reading the policies and vote for the party and policies that you truly believe in this Saturday.

If you need some inspiration to get started, consider these questions:

What role (if any) should the private health care system play in New Zealand’s cleft care?

Should a cap be placed on the cleft care available by the state health system?

Is there any aspect of cleft care that should be paid for by the patient?

Should the internationally accepted best practice cleft unit be available without cost to everyone through the state system?

Should the country’s leading health professionals be freely available to the public through the state health system?