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November 2010


Going Full Circle

So – Hinchingbrooke NHS Trust has gone down the plug-hole. Privately controlled vultures have been circling over-head - Hinchingbrooke’s demise has been long fore-told – and, neatly enough, it was the circling Circle Health Ltd who have been allowed to swoop down and pluck the entrails of the Trust from the clutch of the drains. We now have, Circle say, the ‘first franchised NHS trust’. NHS East of England, the SHA ‘overseeing’ the deal, was far more upbeat. ‘History was made today’ was their clarion call, as a ‘groundbreaking’ deal secured a ‘bright future’ for the debt-laden Trust.

Now there are some who say that this is privatisation. In fact it is not - yet. The ‘balance sheet assets’ – beds, bricks and mortar etc – remain, we are told, in NHS ownership, and the staff, we are told, will be seconded on NHS terms to Circle. Instead of privatising the Trust, Circle have been given the franchise to run the hospital – and the franchise model is not a privatisation model.

The MBA Mind and the NHS

A program on Radio 4 alerted Dr No to new developments in the world of MBAs. Shocked by the public backlash against MBA graduates for their part in shafting the developed economies, a group of 2009 Harvard Business School alumni have borrowed from Hippocrates to conceive the MBA Oath, an ‘inspiration and accountability tool’, to guide MBA graduates through the business jungle.

Putting aside a natural tendency to view the prospect of MBA graduates taking an ethical oath as more hypocritical than Hippocratic, the accompanying book is still thought provoking. Amongst other things it introduces the idea of the ‘MBA mind’ – that cut throat, greed-is-good brain that powers the suits in their relentless pursuit of profit – not, of course, that the authors word it that way.

Red Light Docs Face Urgent Probes

It’s tough being a GMC Responsible Officer. All those doctors on your books, each one a lurking Shipman. Of course, the Herr Brother Officers at the GMC and the Department of Health appreciate the terrible stresses Responsible Officers face. The Herr Brother Officers wish to help the Responsible Officers in their duties, and so have commissioned the Herr Revalidation Support Team to devise eine support system to help support ze Herr Responsible Officers in the execution of zair duties. And so it is that ze Herr Revalidation Support Team is pleased and proud to present to all Herr RO colleagues ze one – and only – Responsible Officer Dashboard!

Boob Swell or Bust

The libel wars are hotting up. Rodial, purveyors of High Class Snake Oils to the lunching classes, have fired the first libel shots across the bows of a Ms Dalia Nield FRCS (Ed), for daring to question Rodial’s claims that their revolutionary ‘Boob Job’ gel ‘plumps up the bust’ – by up to 8.4% in a couple of months – if you believe the spiel.

A number of commentators, including Dr Ben Goldacre of Bad Science, would have us believe that this battle is about science, and science alone. There is hot talk of transparency, replication, and open discussion; and of the crassness of using libel law to stifle scientific debate. All this is without doubt true, but the smoke generated in the heat of indignation has partially obscured a somewhat unfortunate fact. Ms Dalia Nield FRCS (Ed) is a Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic (Cosmetic) Surgeon, who numbers amongst her procedures breast augmentation.

The Poppy and the Patient

Today is Remembrance Day. At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, we remember those who shall grow not old, those who age shall not weary, for they died in the service of their country.

Today we also learned of yet more health service failings, of suffering and death; of lessons unlearnt, and lamentable failures, among older patients undergoing surgery; older patients, a few of whom no doubt fought in Flanders and other fields, and lived, only to be deserted in their late hour of need by the country they had served.

The War on Nutt

Faux Webb, the Today programme’s latest and duckiest presenter, this morning helpfully offered Professor Nutt, ex-Chief Pongo of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, the chance to put his case against the demon drink ‘in a Nuttshell’. By BBC fair-do rules Faux was obliged to give Nuttshell’s opponent, Mail on Sunday heavyweight Peter Hitchens, the opportunity to put his case, this time in a Hittshell. But there was no need. Hittshell was already engaged, in a heavy artillery sort of way, in The War on Nutt. The studio soon filled to the sound of high ordnance. Neither Nutt nor Faux stood a chance.