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It’s good to talk – forum offers new help for patients

PUBLISHED: 15:29 16 February 2007 | UPDATED: 14:27 07 September 2010

A HAMPSTEAD woman has set up a forum to discuss health issues people are often afraid to address. Amanda Norton, 55, who has no medical background, was frustrated patients did not have a forum to discuss health matters

Katie Davies

A HAMPSTEAD woman has set up a forum to discuss health issues people are often afraid to address.

Amanda Norton, 55, who has no medical background, was frustrated patients did not have a forum to discuss health matters at her local doctor's practice.

So she set up her own, focusing on the problems facing women over 40.

Ms Norton, who used to run a children's clothing company, said: "My doctor has a diagnostic centre down on the Finchley Road and they run a forum for doctors to discuss medical issues.

"I thought it was a good idea but was frustrated I couldn't go to it. So I decided to do it myself for specialists and patients.

"A friend, Eileen Raperport, and I were both aware of the fact women go through changes when they hit their 40s - and we decided to run it together.

"We wanted to give an open forum where women could discuss problems between themselves rather than just going to the doctor.

"I started to ask doctors to come and talk at the events and give a question and answer session afterwards. Now every time I do it I make sure there are high profile people talking."

The events started at the doctor's practice but are now also held at different venues in the area.

As well as serious debates the women can socialise and are made to feel at ease by the organisers.

"We make people comfortable first and give them some wine," Ms Norton explained. "We ask questions on their behalf if they want us to - so they can stay anonymous

"All the specialists are amazing - they do everything for free with £5 of the ticket price going to running the event and £10 to a charity of the specialist's choice.

"You can't be timid around subjects. The one we had last time on the menopause led to women discussing some very personal problems. We have also had one on cancer and one coming up on old age."

And Ms Norton is now working on a men's awareness project that she intends to launch in May. The next event in the Women's Awareness Programme is entitled Old Age is a Marathon: The Prevention and Management of Frailty."

Baroness Rabbi Julia Neuberger and Jackie Morris, a consultant specialising in treating older people, will speak at the event at 7.30pm on Wednesday March 21 at the London Jewish Cultural Centre in North End Road, Golders Green.

o For more information or tickets call Ms Norton on 020-7435 1915.

katie.davies@hamhigh.co.uk


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