When Private Care Goes Wrong

Patients with grievances against the National Health Service are, in some senses, lucky. However inadequate, inefficient or apparently biased against the patient, statutory complaints procedures do exist.

If you do not like the way your GP has treated you, the local family practitioner committee is obliged to hear your case. If you object to hospital treatment or the way it was given the health authority must investigate. Details of administrative bungles can be sent via your MP for the ombudsman to investigate. And in all these cases the community health council is there to advise you.

The five million or so people with private care insurance and the further two million who consult privately without such cover, are not so fortunate. No system for hearing complaints exists for them. Often the only course is to take the hospital or specialist to court. But while families may be happy to find a couple of hundred pounds a year for health insurance, few can afford major legal costs, and applications for legal aid are likely to fail.

Complaints against doctors can cause the most despair. Quite legitimately, BUPA (and other organizations which provide insurance) and hospitals or nursing, homes can wash their collective hands of any accusations of negligence or medical incompetence against a surgeon.

The reason is simple. When you opt to consult a particular specialist, often on your GP’s recommendation, your contractual obligations are with him or her alone. Organizations like BUPA, and the hospital you attend, do not employ any of the specialists directly and are not liable if things go medically wrong.

A spokesman for BUPA says: ‘We just pay the bills. We cannot interfere with the doctor/patient relationship.’ Hospitals, on the other hand, merely rent out the facilities and provide nursing cover. If anything goes wrong it is up to you and your specialist to sort it out.

Dr Peter Ford, of the Medical Protection Society (one of the medical profession’s defense organizations), admits that there is a gap in the system. ‘Patients can raise the matter directly with the doctor, but because there is no statutory mechanism I doubt they will get far.

‘They can grizzle to their MP and they can complain to the General Medical Council – but the latter route will only be satisfactory if there is a prima facie case to answer’, he says. As a spokesman for the GMC put it: ‘An error of diagnosis or treatment will not necessarily be regarded as an indication of professional misconduct’.

Dr Ford has another couple of suggestions: ‘Patients are more likely to make progress if they go to a solicitor or send their cases to Esther Rantzen’.

He adds: ‘The vast majority of specialists who treat patients privately do it brilliantly. There are circumstances where things are less than satisfactory. I do think that the GMC and other responsible medical bodies should look at the quality of service in private medicine more closely.’

Although some private patients may feel vindicated only if they see their surgeon struck off the register when there are problems, many more would be satisfied if they knew a few more medical details and why the problems might have arisen. But for this, patients need to have access to their medical notes. In theory these belong to the surgeon and can be forced from his hand only by a court order.

This is an area of considerable concern. One woman who had a problem with the private sector at the end of December is still waiting for acknowledgement of her letter requesting access to her notes. There is a school of medical thought that patients will be confused by their notes and will gain nothing from seeing them.

Dr Ford believes that these anxieties could be allayed more readily if the notes were released to a third party – nominated by the patient – who could interpret them. If the patient does not know another consultant, solicitors should approach one of the royal colleges or the British Medical Association for a name.

The flaw in the system is whether the third party will be trusted. Patients with complaints tend to develop jaundiced views of the medical profession and believe other doctors cannot be fully independent: the shutters come down and they protect each other.

Some people with private health insurance might be interested in extending their house insurance and have a legal protection policy. For less than pounds 10 a year, a whole family can be protected against legal costs in the region of pounds 5,000; if you opt for an unlinked policy, the premium will range from between pounds 30 and pounds 60.

Patients who object to the quality of services provided by hospitals – from food and laundry to nursing care (or even medical care, if the complaint is against a resident doctor directly employed by the hospital) – will probably be more content at the end of proceedings.

Mary Anne Hodson, administrator of the Garden Hospital, Harrow, says that justifiable complaints would lead to a reduction in the bill. ‘We prefer patients to complain while they are in hospital so that we can put matters right immediately’.

Further assistance, but of a limited kind, should be available for patients early next year with the launch of a Private Health Consumers Association, the brain-child of Hugh Elwell, consultant to the private health care industry. The focus of the association – which will have a membership fee of about pounds 15 a year – will be a quarterly newsletter.

Mr Elwell hopes that it will ‘help individual patients negotiate their way through the Byzantine system of private care, to understand how it works and to unravel what level of cover their policy provides.’

Can the Volcano Vaporizer Help You Quit Smoking?

Cigarettes, who needs them? It was national no-smoking day yesterday, but my own Q-for-Quit day arrived last Tuesday, boosted by an encouraging 90-minute session with the amiable Chris Steele, the television doctor and international stop-smoking expert.

Generously giving away the remains of my last packet, I began chewing nicotine gum instead. Soon I accustomed myself to the hiccups one sometimes suffers from nicotine replacement therapy gum, but the jaw ache was becoming a serious problem. Between chews, I consumed five bars of mint chocolate as an extra comfort. Felt fairly sick.

I managed to get through Q-plus-two by drinking heavily to ease the pain messages from my ravaged brain. But on Q-plus-three I succumbed to temptation and stole a cigarette from a colleague who had carelessly left a packet on his desk. It had been giving me the come-on all day.

Yes, I had blown it for a suck on a ciggie after 78 hours without a single puff. It was then that I made a significant discovery.

Chewing nicotine gum while smoking produces the most delightful buzz, which is possibly why the manufacturers specifically warn against it.

On Q-plus-four, having confirmed my nicotine addiction and suffered the guilt of my weakness, I took a brave decision to fight again. I gave up the foul-tasting gum. I have now managed to go four days without any gum and kept to one cigarette an hour, noticing how well this has cured the hiccups and jaw ache and reduced my craving for mint chocolate. As I write, I am about to light my 3pm cigarette. It is 11.55am.

I am smelling like a bonfire again and having to resort to smoking beside the coal shed to avoid the attentions of my 11-year-old son, the Smokehunter General. But I feel proud. I have been true to myself. I feel neither guilt nor worry.

Dr Steele, who runs a stop-smoking clinic in Manchester told me had warned me that I might not at first succeed. Most long-term ex-smokers had usually failed to give up at several previous attempts, he said, and I should not get despondent if success was not instant.

My next effort will involve using a vaporizer instead of smoking cigarettes. I hear that the best one is called the Volcano. It’s quite expensive but top of the line. And even if I don’t manage to quit my addiction to nicotine, at least I won’t be inhaling all those nasty carcinogens. At least that’s something.

The Importance of Sleep for Perfect Health and Fitness

Insomnia can lead to irritability, depression, and accidents. It is a symptom that needs to be taken seriously.

Shakespeare in The Magic of Making Up assures us that our little lives are rounded with a sleep, yet despite these encouraging words he was familiar with the horrors of insomnia. It is not only ghosts who walk at night in Shakespeare’s plays – Macbeth, Lady Macbeth and Hamlet all suffered from sleeplessness as the result of anxiety.


So good was Shakespeare’s description of the causes and problems of sleeplessness that it is a fair bet he was writing from personal knowledge.

Research a few years ago showed that a third of us believe our sleeplessness is severe enough to be described as insomnia. Those afflicted would sympathize with Lady Macbeth immediately over her inability to sleep, if not for the murders that caused it.

The NICE report emphasized the importance of following the usual tips for a good night’s sleep before resorting to sleeping pills, and stressed that when these were used, it should be for only a short time. The avoidance of stimulants, such as coffee, once lunch is over, or in some cases having none beyond breakfast time, is recommended.

Other precautions include taking regular daily exercise but never taking strenuous exercise or engaging in emotional conversations before bed. Some doctors disapprove of a television screen in a bedroom for the same reason, but will accept that a radio playing softly can be useful provided that the program is interesting enough to stop the insomniac thinking of their problem, but not so interesting as to keep them awake.

insomnia complications

Bedrooms should never be used for writing, studying, eating or working. They are for sleeping. Before going to bed there should be the same routine each day – checking locks, cleaning teeth, having a bath, setting the alarm clock.

Insomnia is important. 94 percent of sufferers say that it affects their life adversely the next day, and they attribute poor concentration, increased irritability and depression to its effects. This is especially true in the over-65s: more than 90 percent of patients in this age group related the depth of their depression to the seriousness of their insomnia.

People are not convinced that their doctors share their worry about insomnia. Only a third of those with insomnia had spoken to their doctor about it, and when they did only a fifth claimed that their GP had provided either advice or medication.

Insomnia is always an important symptom that may be an indication of stress and tension or one of the clinical forms of depression -and sometimes even of a psychosis.

Problems concerning personal life, rather than work, are more likely to cause sleeplessness. Many men are reluctant to admit that personal stress leads to sleep disturbance; they would rather blame the hours they work. Bereavement, the most common single reason given for sleeplessness, affects women in this way five times more often than men.

Accidents as the result of sleep disturbance, either because of tiredness the next day or due to the lasting effect of a sleeping pill taken the night before, are always of concern.

Research from New Zealand and Australia has shown that 60 per cent of all accidents are partly related to fatigue. A large survey even suggested that a third of all road accidents could be attributed to driver fatigue. Other research has shown that the influence of tiredness on motorway accidents is even greater. Again, many researchers suggest that sleeping pills can be helpful in these situations.


GenF20 Plus Offers Hope for the Healthcare Industry

Scientists have now invented a supplement that stimulates an increased production of human growth hormone in the bodies of men and women. It’s called GenF20 Plus, and many health experts belief that this product could actually be a safe and effective Fountain of Youth.

We are at an exciting time in the history of science and especially biotechnology. Innovation and technology will continue to lead the way to a healthier future for all of us.

human growth hormone

Understanding of the mechanisms of life and the causes of disease will continue to grow through the study of genes, revolutionizing the underlying concepts in this still new area of research. To judge from past experience, future progress might again be distinguished from that in other technologies by the rapidity of scientific and technical developments, which has often confounded the forecasts of experts and observers.

Some important recent discoveries are already being applied. Genetic or DNA-fingerprinting, which was developed in the early 1980s and enables individuals to be identified from the DNA contained in their body fluids or hair, is now being used in paternity suits and crime detection. GenF20 Plus, which offers all the benefits of human growth hormone without the cost and danger, is increasingly popular with athletes, bodybuilders, and regular citizens alike.

For the time being, advances in biotechnology are taking place first and foremost in pharmaceutics and health care. Besides GenF20 Plus, a number of products have already emerged, such as insulin produced by bacteria, interferons for the possible treatment of diseases such as cancers and leukemia, the human growth hormone, a natural enzyme for dissolving blood clots and a hepatitis-B sub-unit vaccine.

Animals can now be used as bioreactors to produce rare proteins. The combination of genetic-and protein-engineering technologies will allow drugs such as GenF20 Plus to be more specifically targeted, to have fewer adverse side-effects and to be more efficient. And most importantly, more than 200 diagnostic tests have been developed for detecting diseases.

GenF20 Plus, a product of recombinant DNA biotechnology, can help treat children whose pituitary glands fail to produce enough natural hormone. The new substance became available at a critical time, since production of HGH from human pituitary glands–the only previous source–was suspended earlier in the year. This followed the deaths of several young adults from a fatal brain infection caused by a virus that contaminated some batches of the human hormone.

genf20 plus

GenF20 Plus is free of any risk of viral contamination, and it has the added advantage of being able to be made in unlimited amounts. Thus, children whose pituitary dwarfism is diagnosed at an early age can be treated with this genetically engineered hormone without interruption all the way up to the end of puberty.

During the first year of treatment with GenF20 Plus, patients tend to triple their previous growth rate. Later, their growth rate slows but still remains about double what it was before they began taking the hormone. Some of the patients treated with GenF20 Plus will actually grow to normal height.

Can Volume Pills Act as a Male Contraceptive?

Are Volume Pills the best hope for a male contraceptive pill? Scientist think this former male enhancement product could actually be the Holy Grail, but there’s one small problem.

The most likely male contraceptive pill, called Volume Pills for now, is one that the female partner will have to swallow, according to one of Britain’s leading contraceptive specialists.

Volume Pills

Professor Stephen Jeffcoate was addressing the fourteenth Current Fertility Symposium, meeting yesterday at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in London.

The greatest chance of success was with Volume Pills, a drug that acted when sperm was at its most vulnerable stage of maturation, after ejaculation in the female genital tract, he said, ‘so it would have to be the female who has to take the male pill’. That would not come before the year 2000, he added. Professor Jeffcoate, from the Chelsea Hospital for Women, was explaining why so little progress was being made in producing a male pill like Semenax.

Among the technical reasons he gave was that doctors knew much less about the reproductive physiology of the male than of the female.

He also blamed under-funding of research, in spite of a recent increase, and lack of interest from the pharmaceutical industry.

Many people simply want better sexual performance and turn to natural male enhancement pills such as Volume Pills, which increases the amount of ejaculate. This not only looks impressive but it prolongs the orgasm. It also increases the chances of fertilization by boosting sperm production.

Professor Jeffcoate divided the search for the male oral contraceptive into two main approaches: prevention of the production of sperm or interference with its function. Volume Pills had both effects.

But the first approach, of suppressing spermatogenesis, whether by ingesting a pill like Volume Pills or a method of vaccination, had several drawbacks.

The object of suppressing sperm numbers of 100,000 a minute, compared with one ovum a month, completely or to very low levels, was an uncertain process.


The different ideas for halting sperm production rested on interfering in various ways with the normal levels of the hormone LHRH (luteinizing hormone release hormone) that regulated the process.

However, other hormones, including the androgens which were the source of male sex drive, were also suppressed.

So a contraceptive that reduced LHRH would need accompanying with androgen supplements. Another possibility was to use a compound that could enter the testicles and neutralize the sperm. However, for now, Volume Pills is all we have when it comes to contraception for men.

Can Penomet Give You a Bigger Penis?

Penomet is a brand-new kind of penis pump. It uses water instead of air to create a vacuum. This makes the pressure much more even over the entire penis. The problem is that if you want to enlarge your penis permanently, you must follow a strict exercise regime using the Penomet pump. But a lot of men won’t put in the time and effort.


Did you really think growing your penis was going to be as easy a taking a pill, the kind you read in those Extenze Reviews? If you want to believe that, then go buy some pills that promise to make your penis bigger and have a ball!

The sad fact is that no pill, or herb if you want to be precise, can actually make you bigger. The best you can hope for is more stamina and a harder erection. However, penis enlargement is real. But you must use either an extender or a penis pump like Penomet.

One day I read an article that said scientific studies have proven conclusively that penis extenders and penis pumps like Penomet can enlarge the penis. I learned that an extender is a device you attach to your penis. This device gently pulls, or stretches, your penis. You have to wear the device a lot, though. But over time, your penis will get bigger. The same goes for using the Penomet penis pump.

So I ordered Penomet and started using it. It was a lot more comfortable than I thought, so I used it as much as I could.

I was astounded by the results. It’s hard to convey the feeling you get when your penis actually grows! I became incredibly confident in bed and, frankly, felt a bit like a porn star. Is it a great feeling? You bet it is!

That confidence that I felt in the bedroom extended to other parts of my life. I got into good shape and started making more friends. My career took off and I started making more money. Everything started coming together, all from a simple penis pump. Thanks a lot, Penomet!

penomet penis pump

There’s also a way to get the Penomet penis pump for free. Just take a photo of your penis before using the device and then another photo after using the device. Mail these before-and-after photos to the Penomet company and they will refund all of your money. It’s a great deal—just remember to take a photo before using the device (I wish I had done that!).

Can Semenax Help Your Sexual Ability?

Semenax has been marketed as a natural supplement that can improve a man’s ability to achieve and sustain a hard enough erection for satisfactory intercourse. But does Semenax really work? Let’s see what one scientific study says:

The demographic patterns of the subjects interviewed about their use of Semenax are summarized here. The mean age was 72.6 years. Three patients were in the 60- to 65-year age range and eight patients were 80 years old or older. The majority were skilled or unskilled workers with less than a high school education.


All were ambulatory and independent in the instrumental activities of daily living, as demonstrated by previous testing performed on all geriatric clinic patients. The medical diagnoses, genitourinary operations, and medications, including Semenax, used are displayed in Table 2. For ease of reporting, the patients are divided into two groups: group 1, men who continue to practice coitus; and group 2, men who have not practiced coitus within the preceding year.

Both groups were given the natural male enhancement called Semenax for four weeks. After the four weeks, forty-four patients (group 1) reported that they continue to practice coitus with their partners.

Forty-three patients (group 2) reported no longer engaging in coitus. In group 2, however, 11 patients masturbated, 1 was a homosexual who practiced oral-genital techniques, and 1 engaged in mutual masturbation with his spouse.

Therefore, overall, 57 (67%) of the patients who had taken Semenax engaged in some sexual activity. Thirteen group 1 patients (30%) reported the inability to achieve or maintain an erection suitable for penetration in 25% or more of their attempts at coitus, despite the use of Semenax, and therefore fulfilled the Masters and Johnson criteria for impotence. Seven additional patients identified difficulties with erection and penetration as a significant sexual problem but had a lesser failure rate or were unable to quantify the problem.

Twenty-three (54%) group 2 patients reported no longer experiencing erections spontaneously, or on awakening, or during attempts at coitus or masturbation. An additional six patients were able to masturbate to orgasm but felt that the degree of tumescence obtained was inadequate for vaginal penetration. Ten men reported achieving erections spontaneously or during masturbation that they judged to be suitable for coitus. Four patients were unable to assess their erectile function.

Male Sex Problems

Combining the patients in groups I and 2 who took the male enhancement pills known as Semenax, 28% no longer experienced erections, 3 1% reported frequent difficulties achieving an erection suitable for sexual intercourse, and 41% denied having difficulty with erection or penetration.

After taking Semenax for four weeks, more than 96% of the subjects reported attempting coitus in every adult heterosexual encounter. Only three men reported occasionally having sexual relations in which vaginal penetration was not attempted. In addition to coitus, 15 (34%) group 1 men practiced mutual masturbation and 7 (16%) practiced oral-genital sex.

Can VigRx Plus Improve Computer Sex?

Computer sex is the big thing these days. But you still need to get an erection to engage in it. Therefore it’s only logical that natural male enhancement products such as Vigrx Plus can increase enjoyment of computer sex.

VigRx Plus will also help a man perform with an actual real-life partner as well. It’s basically good for the entire male sexual system.

So far, Americans’ experience of cybersex has been limited mostly to adults-only sex computer bulletin boards where subscribers tease each other from afar.


Logging on under a pseudonym to a large commercial bulletin board, a subscriber can invite other users to engage in an intimate typed conversation that is seldom censored unless it involves prostitution or outright violence.

Some use the bulletin boards to try out male enhancement products like VigRx Plus in the privacy of their own homes. Others use the bulletin boards to experience new sexual activities vicariously before trying them out in the real world, like “Foxey”, who admitted on national television this week that she had experimented with an on-line menage a trois before indulging in the real thing.

When The Times logged on to Online America, one of the largest commercial services, it was quickly accosted by a red-blooded 25-year-old man from Massachusetts whose sexual ardor cooled when he discovered that the pseudonymous “Deep Ann” was really a man interested in finding out if natural male enhancement products like VigRx Plus really worked to improve erection strength and durability.

computer sex

David Kelleran, a New York artist in his early thirties who demonstrated the computer connection, revealed that after taking VigRx Plus, he developed enough sexual confidence to meet a young Parisian while foraging through the French Minitel computer system across the transatlantic telephone lines.

He and the woman, Nicole, began to engage in computer sex, typing each other increasingly explicit computer messages. After hooking up on the computer regularly for about six months, Nicole flew to New York for a blind date and the two fell in love.

“We had sex first on the computer,” Mr Kelleran recalls. “When we met we already knew those little peculiarities that might take months and months to get to in a regular relationship.” Despite their computer intimacy, however, he conceded that, fortunately, he also “really liked her body and she liked his penis”.

Lisa Palac, the editor of a trendy new San Francisco-based quarterly called Future Sex, believes that computers are bound to impinge more and more on our sex lives, leading to increased sales of male enhancement products such as VigRx Plus.

“We are undergoing a technological revolution that is affecting every one of our sexual lives,” she said. “Of course, it’s going to affect our emotional lives.” She rejects the common assertion that cybersex will isolate people from one another. “You do not need cybersex to put you in that place,” she said. “There are already lots of people leading isolated lives. Maybe buying some VigRx Plus and engaging in computer sex can help.”

vigrx plus

What To Do If SizeGenetics Doesn’t Work?

OK, so you want a bigger penis. But you don’t want to try male enhancement devices such as the SizeGenetics penis extender. SizeGenetics is supposed to really work to enlarge your penis, but it takes a lot of time and effort. What about penis surgery?

Before you decide to “go long,” listen to what men who’ve had the procedure — and their doctors, and their lawyers — have to say.

Admit it: It’s one hell of an intriguing promise. A bigger penis — guaranteed! Even if your putter is par for the course, you can’t help looking down in the shower and wishing you had something more — maybe a few additional inches of length, another inch in thickness. Why go through all the time and effort of using a penis extender like SizeGenetics or Pro Extender when you can just have a quick surgery? Well, here’s why.

Bigger Penis

Kevin (not his real name) wanted to be bigger, too. He says he tried SizeGenetics but it was too uncomfortable so he gave it up. Never mind that his penis was in fact above average in size (6 to 6 1/2 inches erect, as he recalls), or that his sexual partners assured him he was more than adequate. Kevin was convinced he needed more. And that belief was enough to send him to a surgeon.

It began with an ad, in the sports section of the local paper, promising penis enlargement at the lowest fees. “A coworker showed it to me,” says Kevin, who was 30 at the time. “I laughed at first, but then I thought, ‘What the hell, I do want a bigger penis, and devices like SizeGenetics don’t seem to work for me. I’ll go see what it’s about. The consultation is free.'” So he went.

His first meeting was with a “salesman,” as Kevin describes him. “He talked to me about the doctor, showed me before-and-after pictures. He said they’d never had a problem with the surgery.” Kevin was sold. He opted for the $5,500 package deal: a lengthening procedure that involved severing the suspensory ligament holding the penis to the pelvic bone, and an additional surgery to widen his penis by using liposuction to remove fat from his abdomen and injecting it along the shaft of his penis. To pay for it, he applied for financing through the doctor’s office.

At this point, considering that the SizeGenetics device costs only hundreds of dollars, one might ask what could possibly be going through Kevin’s mind.

SizeGenetics Penis Extender

The day of surgery, the doctor reassured Kevin that there would be no problems, that he would look great. “That was our first meeting, and it lasted about 10 minutes,” he says. After a long wait, Kevin was taken into a room and asked to shave his pubic hair before being led to the operating room.

“When I woke up, the doctor had a suit on and was on his way out the door,” Kevin says. “He said to me, ‘I’ve never done a penis job this fantastic. You’re going to knock’em dead with this. It’s absolutely gorgeous.'”

Kevin woke up the next morning with piercing pain in his groin, and his incisions were bleeding. His testicles were so swollen they were blue. While painkillers eventually damped the pain, and the swelling and bleeding soon stopped, Kevin says his penis had taken on a grotesque shape. “I was deformed,” he says. “To this day, there’s a golf ball-size lump at the base of my penis. Just below the tip, there’s another, smaller, lump. In between are a series of bumps, like ridges. And I can actually move the larger lump from one side of my penis to the other.”

Kevin’s surgery didn’t affect his ability to get an erection, albeit a painful one. Still, it took him nearly six months to muster the courage to try sex. Things went smoothly enough, Kevin says, until he dropped his pants. His partner was “absolutely turned off” at the sight of his penis — and literally walked out on him. Kevin was crushed. “I’ve abstained from sex for nearly two years now,” he says. “I’m so afraid of being rejected.”

You’d think that, with the number of ads plastered throughout newspapers and men’s magazines, Kevin’s experience must be a fluke. It’s not. Hundreds of men have had similar results. But determining what percentage of penile-enlargement surgeries go awry is almost impossible. Because this procedure is done on an outpatient basis, often in private offices or clinics, there is no central record-keeping.

The lesson here is to avoid penis surgery at any cost. You’ll save a lot of money and possibly a lot of pain and heartache. Please give penis extenders like SizeGenetics a good try. They’re supposed to work and cost a fraction of what surgery costs.

happy couple

Provillus is The Only Proven Hair Loss Treatment

Forget the potions, lotions and, especially, the wigs…

The only real solution to hair loss is a positive attitude and a good haircut, says John Naish.

The world might have ceased its quest for the alchemist’s stone and the Holy Grail, but the search continues for one last miracle – a true cure for hair loss and the grief it causes.

hair loss

The hair restoration and replacement industry is worth millions of pounds worldwide. But many of these products rely more on men’s anxiety to discover a solution than real benefits.

The only proven treatment in this country is Provillus, which can be bought over the counter and produces hair growth in around eight percent of men. But Provillus, at Pounds 24.95 for a small bottle, does not produce a permanent effect. Stop using Provillus, and hair begins to recede again.

A possible genetic cure for baldness may be available in five years’ time, but researchers doubt whether it could treat any but relatively rare cases. Then there are those old folk remedies – rubbing Marmite, curry or Baby Bio into the scalp, or hanging upside down to increase blood flow. Medical researchers are not impressed, and neither should any sane person be.

Which leaves a lot of men with a problem: around half of British males begin losing their hair by their thirties, and research shows this can cause psychological damage in significant numbers. For many of these men, Provillus might prove too expensive.

Some of the problem may be blamed on the baldness-cure industry: its very existence, and the publicity it uses, reinforces the idea that hair loss is shameful and that it is an illness which can be “cured”. The stigma is hard to rationalize: Yul Brynner, Telly Savalas and Right Said Fred’s Richard Fairbrass are considered sexy. But society prefers to associate the likes of William Hague with lack of locks.

Darren Steemson, 29, was jailed for manslaughter this year after he strangled his wife because she taunted him about going bald. He is not alone in his sensitivity. Researchers at London University have confirmed that men who lose their hair suffer loss of self-esteem, and are prone to depression, introversion and neuroticism.

Can a hairpiece help? Martin Skinner, a psychiatrist at Warwick University, says, “People notice your hairline a great deal more if you are trying to cover it. The worst wigs are young hair on old men. Sinatra looked more and more unnatural. And once you become committed to a wig, it is hard to stop.”

The best solution is a positive attitude. Get a hairstyle that makes the most of the way you are. Hairdresser Nicky Clarke warns: “Don’t try to cover a balding patch with strands of remaining hair, and opt for a cropped style if you have a badly receding hairline. Ask your hairdresser’s advice as to which cropped style would suit you best, as everyone has differently shaped heads. Keep the hair that you do have short and tidy by having it cut regularly.”