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August 2013

Dropping Like Flies

The Inquisition known for the time being as the General Medical Council is under fire. Its fitness to practice procedures, which for doctors caught on the sharp end of one of Stilton’s prongs feel much like being popped into a beaker of dilute sulphuric acid with a rack of Bunsen burners arrayed underneath, have come under scrutiny because of an apparently high mortality attached to being left to simmer in warm sulphuric acid. Figures available online suggest that there were at least 92 deaths between 2004 and 2012 in doctors under investigation. The denominator – which Dr No suggests should be the number of GMC cases referred to panel investigations – stands somewhere in the region of 2300 (see footnote), giving an approximate average annual mortality rate of 4%. Working age (25-64) mortality in the same period was around 200 per 100,000, or 0.2%. Something is clearly going on. If we apply some crude ‘observed over expected’ numerology to these figures, we get a (very) crude mortality ratio, on the normal 100 base, of around 2000: that is, where we would expect 100 deaths, we find 2000.

Snucking Up to Uncle Sam

While Dr No has been away frying other fish, it seems the Tories have been sneaking a few of their own right old brown trouts through the S bends and P traps of US/EU trade negotiations. Like those in the wild, these fish are well camouflaged. Against a backdrop of general do-goodery - free trade, liberalisation of markets, and boosting of GDPs – there is some serious mumbo-jumbo about the steps needed to break down barriers to trade not just in goods, but services. The scope is grand: all sectors are covered unless specifically excluded. No longer will Detroit be able to give das auto da boot; nor will M. ’Ollandaise be able to stop Hollywood setting up Frollywood on the French Riviera - unless exclusions are granted. But here’s the thing: while other governments are geeing up to protect their important sectors, our Tory led government is eerily silent on excluding what is arguably today our biggest and most defining sector: the NHS.