With friends like the British Medical Association, who needs enemies? On the day the Care Quality Commission revealed that three out of twelve hospitals it reported on were hanging elderly patients out to die, the BMA chose to blow its anti-Health and Social Care bill trumpet. But the Association’s call was inevitably drowned in the howls of anguish that arose in the face of hospitals turning biddies into Ryvitas on an industrial scale. Even Humph rose to the occasion, and adopted his best dishcloth wringing tone. No need to get bogged down in the statistics, said he, as he wrung the dishcloth of despair to its dying drop. As beads of disbelief coalesced on the brow of concern, he told the nation what it so desperately needed to hear: it was, he said in a whisper, about humanity. The BMA story, naturally, sunk like a stone in a pond.
Not content with shooting itself in one foot, the BMA managed to blow its trumpet on a day when not only one but two bigger and better health stories were breaking. Soon after the CQC had set the media on fire, Cleggover was doing his best to put the air back in his biscuit, by getting a legover on Lansoprazole. No longer would the Bill be bounced through Parliament like one of Barnes Wallis’s bombs, he declared: instead, it will be sent back to MPs for further scrutiny – and inevitable delay. Furious Tories launched some mustard gas of their own, and renamed their coalition partners the yellow bastards. The BMA story, again, sunk like a stone in a pond.
The BMA had now run out of feet to shoot at, but had it had a third, it too would have been in the firing line. The CQC’s dossier of despair opened a barn door through which Mr Ali Pasta had already gone Full Circle. The BBC joined in, and ran a News at Ten advertorial on one of his clinics, declaring it to be more like a hotel than a hospital. Instinctively, one knew that the Ryvitas in Mr Pasta’s clinics were on their proper plates, and the beds full of contented geese laying golden eggs. It has all been too much for Mr Pasta, whose head itself has started to glow like a golden egg. For the rest of us, the message was clear: if we wanted to survive the rigours of hospital, Full Circle was the way to go. The BMA story, yet again, sunk like a stone in a pond.
And so it was that on a day when the BMA’s, anti-Health and Social Care Bill call should have topped the health news agenda, a cumulative Association own goal relegated it to the bottom of the table. The CQC made the case that radical NHS reform was not only inevitable but essential; Cleggover stole the show and got in a useful pop at the Tories to boot, who responded in kind, and the BBC showed us Mr Pasta’s Ryvita alternative. The BMA’s stone remained permanently sunk at the bottom of the media pond, a position from which it was ill-placed to resist the inevitable dismissals that it was just another union looking after its members interests.
As Dr No said: with friends like the BMA, who needs enemies?