Past Posts...


The Secret Nail Exposed

News of a sort emerged last week that the Iranian Hospitalier’s circle of shadowy investors are to receive an annual bung for stitching up Hinchingbrooke Hospital. The first £2 million of any surplus will be top-sliced, and wired to Jersey, or perhaps some other island where the sun shines a lot. The sweetener came to light after the Health Service Journal unearthed a letter deposited in the House of Commons Library last November by Lord Howe. In it, Howe writes: ‘Under the contract with Circle at Hinchingbrooke NHS Trust, the first £2 million of any year’s surplus will go to the Franchisee, Circle, as it must cover its costs and earn a fee [emphasis added]’. Howe may call it a fee, but to Dr No it looks uncommonly like a kick-back. No wonder the thinking epidemiologist’s crumpet, Professor Allyson Pollock, is scandalised.

Auric’s Law

Regular readers will know that Dr No is an advocate of Auric’s Law of Causes – happenstance, coincidence, enemy action – and it so happens that Auric’s Law has been met, indeed exceeded, in four out of four recent NHS encounters by family and friends of Dr No. In each case, the care provided was either partly or wholly inadequate and/or incompetent; and, by Auric’s Law, he concludes these adverse experiences did not arise by chance, but by malevolent force. The malevolent force was the NHS, or more specifically the doctors who provided (or in some cases did not provide) the care. All four cases happened in, or were related to, secondary (hospital) care, but more often than not the GP was also involved in, or at the least complicit with, the deficient care. In all four cases, either the patient or a relative was a doctor, and so an ‘expert witness’, able to ‘read’ what was going on. How much more poor care, one wonders, goes on, but is unnoticed, because the witnesses are lay, and lack the knowledge to read the signs?

Ten Top Tips for RCGP Presidential Candidates

The ballot for the next president of the Royal College of General Practitioners will soon be upon us. The field is strong, the going expected to be good, and in the interests of a spirited but fair race, Dr No offers - or perhaps that should be would like to share with you - his Ten Top Tips for RCGP Presidential Candidates.

1. Establish, first and foremost, that you care. You must make it clear that you care so much it hurts. Never miss an opportunity: books, blogs, twitter and media appearances are all ideal settings in which to show how much you care.

The Apothecary: You’re Fired

Once upon a time, there were no GPs, only apothecaries. These corner-shop chemists evolved over time into today’s GPs, but their shop-keeping origins are still present even in today’s super-surgeries, and all the more so in the small lock-up single handed surgery. The short appointment times (it’s usually only a shopping trip, for Heaven’s sake), and expectation that the shopper-patient will not walk away empty-handed (what shop-keeper would so disappoint his or her customer?) are two leading characteristics of today’s general practice that stem directly from its apothecarial trade roots.

Branson Pickle

Word is in the air that The Beard is out to spike Max Pemberton. The redoubtable and excellent Max, whose weekly column in the Telegraph has repeatedly shone penetrating light on the sinister implications of the Tory NHS reforms – and here it is good to praise the Telegraph for printing copy critical of Tory policy – has, by way of his latest column, lit a burner under The Beard, and the balloon has gone up. Word further has it that the balloon is to be navigated to a position directly over Pembers, from which position it will descend hard on him, like a ton of bricks, or more precisely, £90,000 or more of legal costs. The threat follows an earlier failed attempt to drop a injunction banning publication on the Telegraph. You can – for now at least – read the article that provoked such corporate ire here, and judge for yourself who is speaking the truth, and who is full of hot air.

Mission Impossible

The Blameless Broadcasting Corporation, which doth protest too much, because it did take sides, by providing skimpy superficial coverage of the Health and Social Care Bill, have at last done something useful. An independent survey ordered by the corporation of over 800 doctors, which we have no reason to assume is not unrepresentative, unlike the GP monkey surveys, has found that only 12 percent of doctors believe GP led commissioning will lead to ‘patients seeing a noticeable improvement in their care’. More than half (55%) disagreed; the remaining third must have sore perineums, for they are still sitting on the fence, saying they don’t know one way or the other.

Mary’s Bottom Line

The Retail Raptor is developing a social conscience. Hot on the heels of her project to put the High back into High Street, she has moved on to save Britain’s dying textile industry. Following the trend set by Hacksaw’s there is ‘no such thing as society’, which taken to its logical conclusion means there is no such thing as Britain, and the rise of globalisation, Britain’s textile industry has, like many others, gone west by going east. Here at home, the looms lie still, the sewing machines silent, the thread of manufacture first snagged, then cut short. The grim jaws of benefit dependency have bitten across generations; the darkness of despondency and despair lies thickly in the air. This is the kind of blight up with which the Raptor will not put.

A Good Day to Bury a Bad Bill

Conveniently, the Health and Social Care Bill completed its final parliamentary stage on the eve of the budget, ensuring it was in hours knocked off the top of the news pile by Porgie’s Biddy Tax. But, mean as the Biddy Tax is, it is not the erosion and loss of the Pensioner’s Allowance that will hit Granny hard in the years to come, it is the erosion and loss of the NHS brought about by the Tories’ now soon to be unleashed health service reforms that will hit Granny – and indeed the rest of us when we need healthcare - hard. So the question arises: what are we going to do about it?

For You, The Democracy is Over

Yesterday, Dr No was putting together a post on Mary’s Bottom Line, a Channel 4 documentary in which the Retail Raptor revealed not only her smalls, but her softer side. It seems to Dr No there are parallels between what markets did to Britain’s clothing industry, and what markets will do to the NHS when the HSCB becomes law. He wondered if in a decade’s time we might not come across another Channel 4 documentary, Mary’s Life Line, in which a clutch of long-term unemployed doctors and nurses reoccupy derelict NHS premises and start a renaissance of NHS practice.

As he wrote the post, he became aware via twitter of a drop-the-bill rally in central London being met with not just a solid police presence, but armed riot police, kettling, and all the paraphernalia of police state control. By twitter accounts, the rally was peaceful, and the police response outrageous, but then twitter is not Reuters, so Dr No turned to the established media for confirmation. And what did Dr No find in the established media? Nothing.

Vinyl Migraine

Dr No doesn’t really get Hendrix; nor does he get migraines. But if he did get the latter, listening to the former might bring on the latter. Given Dylan’s own haunted enigmatic recording of All Along the Watchtower, why strangle genius in a dustbin of dying cats?

Such odd thoughts come to Dr No as news emerges that the Land of the Baskervilles is soon to decide on who should run Children’s Services in Devon. There are two front runners: neither is NHS; both are for-profit. One is Branson’s Virgin, the other SerCo – the ‘Service Company’.