Today is St Valentine’s day. It is also, by coincidence, the first anniversary of Dr No’s first post – a frivolous piece that borrowed from the wonderful Peter Cook, posted in the main to verify the site was live. A summer of distractions followed, and it was only in August that Dr No went public, with The Peter Squared Principle. Other bloggers were kind enough to link to Bad Medicine, even if the wise and sage Witch Doctor noticed the erratic posting history, and asked very reasonably ‘is he only going to be a blogger on heydays and holidays’?
Well, six months on the answer is plain for all to see. Dr No now posts regularly. And, as befits an anniversary, he finds himself reflecting on the past, and looking into the future. Whichever way he looks, he sees three dominating themes that have and will continue to exercise him. They are the Big Themes, and all carry a threat of very very Bad Medicine.
The first is the wholesale destruction of the NHS as we know and love it. Yes, Dr No knows that the times-they-are-a-changing, and all that clap-trap, but Dr No has also been around for long enough to know, and know beyond reasonable doubt, that, despite all its faults, the NHS is a wonderful institution. He knows, because he has both worked in it, and been treated by it (in the hands of surgeons, not the asylum, since you ask!). He has seen it from both sides, good and bad; and as a tax payer, he has a legitimate interest in how it spends his money. And on that, he is quite sure that one thing he does not want his money frittered on is suits, pen-pushers and the rest of that barmy army of conker-brained misfits that pass for NHS managers; just as he is equally adamant that has no intention of letting trouser happy shysters steal his money when the service can better be provided by the, err, service.
The second theme is the move to legalise human killing in various forms, and in so doing, turn doctors into part-time executioners. This project makes about as much sense to Dr No as turning priests into part-time Satanists. Somehow, knowing that one’s priest sups occasionally with the Devil sets things on a different footing. And, in the same way, knowing that the hand that cares is also a hand that kills will fundamentally alter – and in Dr No’s view damage – the doctor-patient bond. The answer, should it prove necessary, lies in a new profession of dispatchers.
The third, and by no means last, theme is that of medical regulation, and its hopelessly incompetent administration by that Stasi of goons known as the General Medical Council. These Government lackeys and stooges, said to be at arm’s length by Government, but who are nothing of the sort, for even at arm’s length one can deliver a punch on the nose and a poke in the eye, and so control, set the Diamorphine Queen free, even as they boil legions of foreign doctors in vile vats of Stygian soup. And, as if that were not enough, they have now hatched a plan to introduce an army of informers and controllers – as the Appraisers and Responsible Officers will undoubtedly turn out to be – who will cull the free-spirited and independent, and in so doing castrate the profession, until it is but a cowed shadow of its former glory. And we, patients all as we are, will be the losers.
Dr No’s nightmare is that all three themes come together. Yesterday’s NHS doctor will be replaced by a privately funded hired gun who kills at the state’s bidding. Crazy, you say? Not at all – it happened in Nazi Germany less than a hundred years ago. And it could happen here. That is why Dr No will continue to write Bad Medicine; because, as Burke is said to have said: all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.