Dr No has no doubt that the most devastating blow to be wrought by the Tories on the National Health Service in their Health and Social Care Bill is the abolition of the Secretary of State’s duty to provide a comprehensive health service. At a stroke, it removes ministerial responsibility and accountability, and so renders the NHS as an army without a chief, a supertanker with no one on the bridge, a body without a head. And when mayhem arrives, as it surely must, when the troops run wild, or the tanker strays off course, there will be no one in charge, no one on whose door we can knock, and demand redress. So long as the Secretary of State has ‘acted with a view’, an invidious wording blessed with the legal slipperiness of a bar of soap, he can profess to have done his duty, and declare, even as the tanker hits the rocks: ‘not my problem’.
Anna ‘Opposing Views’ Raccoon – who is to blogging as shit is to the fan – has picked up on the General Medical Council’s latest Big Idea. Doctors who admit medical wrongdoing and accept sanctions, and those convicted of serious crimes – helpfully enumerated by the GMC to include murder, rape and child molesting – will no longer have to face Fitness to Practice hearings. Instead, they will be dealt with clandestinely by the GMC, and a note of their wrongdoing and sanction posted discreetly on the GMC’s website. The idea is both to curb the exponential rise in FTP hearings (and save a bob or two in the process), and to reduce unnecessary ‘stress and anxiety’ for doctors and witnesses caught up in the GMC mill.
Racca-Anna is outraged, claiming that the proposals will muzzle the main stream media, and prevent punters from hearing salacious gossip about gung-ho doctors who – to quote from the post – ‘despatch a patient prematurely whilst singing Rule Britannia and smoking a hookah pipe, or stitch the patient’s left arm onto someone else’s right leg, or are simply stark raving bonkers’ only to be allowed, ‘through some technicality’, to continue to practise.
“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”
–Sir Winston Churchill
The hills may be alive with the sound of music, but the UK medical blogosphere is alive with the sound of rebellion. Virtually all British medical bloggers – and much superb research and writing has been and is being done – are singing off the same hymn sheet: Broken Arrow’s NHS reforms will be at best disastrous, at worst will kill off the NHS.
The Royal College of Nursing has come out staunchly against the reforms; while the British Medical Association has been, to its shame, woefully timid, but is nonetheless critical of the proposals. And of course we have the wonderful Professor Allyson Pollock, the thinking doctor’s crumpet, writing sterling material in the medical journals and elsewhere.
Broken Arrow – so-called because he doesn’t work, and can’t be fired – stood up red-faced in the Commons on Monday. A nervous tie-fingering moment later, he launched into a resentful defensive downcast drone about his beloved Titanic Bill. It was already more than four fifths of the way across the Atlantic, he declared – it had concluded its committee stage, and eighty-seven percent of GPs covering forty-five million patients had already signed up to join the party. Labour jeered and heckled, and Broken Arrow’s face got redder. But a spectre of icebergs had loomed, and through gritted teeth, he admitted the most unTitanic of conduct: a slow down. The government, he said, would take advantage of a ‘natural break’ in the passage of the Bill to ‘pause, to listen, and to engage’. Labour, of course weren’t having any of it. Broken Arrow hadn’t listened before, so why should he start listening now?