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Meaning To Do Something About It

It’s a matter of conjecture whether Stilton wants more complaints to the GMC. Last year, he was all for it. The GMC’s State of the Profession report for 2014, published on 8th October 2014, noted ‘regulators…are seeing a rise in complaints…much easier to raise a complaint. This is all to be welcomed…’. The ellipses cover many words but the meaning is unaltered. By 11th February 2015, only four months later, writing in BMJ Careers, he said ‘We do not “welcome” the huge increase in complaints’. It is not clear why “welcome” is in quotes but that aside the two positions seem rather at odds with each other. Perhaps they have the heating at GMC Towers set rather high, and Stilton is starting to overheat. Or maybe it’s complaint blowback, be careful what you ask for. Welcoming complaints, the GMC got more than it bargained for.

Yes We Can

The wonderfully uplifting and generally obstetrically sound BBC series Call the Midwife has got Dr No worried. Playing catch up on the current series, he worries about the way the plots are getting more extreme, as if the writers, lacking the discipline of Jennifer Worth’s now expended memoirs, have decided to go commando. We’ve already had outbreaks of diphtheria, syphilis and rats: will bubonic plague be next? Or will it be World War Three? Dr Turner is burning out and booze has crept up on Trixie: when will the sponge-o-cidal Sister Monica Joan’s magic mushroom habit be exposed? Is unflappable Sister Julienne unflappable because she smokes cheroots behind the bicycle shed? Having put her back in a nurse’s uniform, will Dr Turner’s wife Shelagh now be transformed, Dennis Potter style, into a Singing Receptionist, complete with leather crop and corset? Will Dr Turner's stress trigger a bout of crippling psoriasis? Such are the possible alarming developments on which Dr No frets.

Making Ministers Happy

Just as forecasters talk of a ‘fog situation’ or a ‘snow event’, so do medical educators now talk of the ‘shape of training’. Why the accessory words are needed is beyond Dr No, but then again he is not all that surprised because the recent Shape of Training Review – hashtag ShoT or in this parish bashtag ROT – was led by a certain eminence situation, one Prof Sir David Greenaway, a distinguished looking egg-head and leading light from the science that makes astrology look good. The #ShoT review’s publication situation was treated by and large as a no news situation – maybe being #ShoT didn’t help - though for some reason the BBC did cover it, and of course our dear friend the Ferret Fancier has been poking holes in the review for some time. One of the Ferret Fancier’s notable achievements has been, on appeal, to get an order for the release of certain GMC minutes of #ShoT/DoH meetings, which the GMC had previously determined should most definitely remain as an ongoing non-situation.

The Eichmann Defence

In a curious move, because to many it will suggest the GMC perceives itself to be on the back foot, Stilton yesterday had published in Pulse an article in which he attempts to portray the GMC as a listening organisation which ‘accepts there is a lot more to do’. Or, to put it another way, on the matter of its regulatory functions, the Council accepts this is ‘an area where more can be done’. Pulse’s standfirst boldly promises an explanation of ‘how the body is ‘improving fitness-to-practise regulations’ - this being, after all, and as the Council accepts, ‘an area where more can be done’ - but in the body the article fails to keep its promise. Instead, Stilton delivers a peevish nit-picking lawyerly rebuff to two recent articles, and a bizarre waffle on why GMC punishments are not punishments. These, however, are diversions. The real message, the payload, part-hidden as it is, is much darker. It is that age old defence against charges of involvement in state sponsored evil that has become known, since the Nuremberg trials, as the Eichmann Defence: ‘only following orders’.

Turkey Farm

Once upon a time there was a turkey farm that grew so large that no one had ever seen one so vast. There were so many turkeys that, over time, the turkeys began to specialise in what they did. There were turkey-surgeons with white plumage, who operated on other turkeys. There were turkey-physicians, with fancy black and white plumage not unlike a human frock coat, who were called in when no one knew what to do. The turkey-physicians didn’t know what to do either, but were very good at making it look as if they did, which made everyone feel better. There were turkey-apothecaries, always busy in their brown aprons, handing out this pill and that potion. Over time, the turkey-apothecaries renamed themselves turkey-GPs, which made them feel more important, but no one else was fooled, and the turkey-GPs carried on doing what the turkey-apothecaries had always done, the over-worked under-appreciated back bone of Turkey Farm. There were even mad turkeys, as they were affectionately known, whose plumage tended to look as if they had been dragged through a hedge backwards, whose job it was to lock up deranged turkeys. No one liked locking up fellow turkeys, but sometimes it had to be done, and it was the mad turkeys who did it.

Lies Damned Lies and the GMC

Any lingering hope that Parliament’s Health Committee could hold the GMC to account at its annual accountability hearing earlier this week over doctor suicides while under GMC FtP investigation has now disappeared as sand in the desert. Though delayed for a few days, the transcript of the hearing is now available online. It makes grim and depressing reading. On the matter of FtP doctor suicides, the Chair of the committee – a doctor – came to the proceedings with a regrettably light grasp, if that is not too strong a term, on the facts. Stilton, the GMC pongo who answered the questions on these deaths, turned out to have an even lighter grasp. Indeed, so poor were these grasps that Dr No has no hesitation in saying that they were, and are, an insult to democratic process.

A Crack at The Afghan, Sir!

A medical school somewhere in England. A panel has assembled to interview prospective candidates. In the centre is Professor Sir Turpentine Stephenson, newly appointed Chair of the GMC. On the left sits Stilton, Chief Executive Pongo for the time being of the GMC; on the right sits His Honour David Fake-Pearl, Chair of the Medical Students Tribunal Service. Fake-Pearl appears to be reading a catalogue of some sort, possibly of spring bulbs. Stilton repeatedly inspects his finger nails. Stephenson gets out a fountain pen labelled ‘MI6 100% nitric acid, emergency use only’ and twirls it in his fingers. Bored observers sit behind the panel.

A bell rings, the panelled door opens to reveal a young lad standing on the threshold. The lad has wing-nut ears.

Developing Magna Carta Medicorum

There are those who want to torpedo the GMC using the Human Rights Act, or even the European Courts, but it must be remembered that such processes are always time-consuming, often futile, and inconveniently prone to blowback, like trying to clear a blocked drain with a toothpick. Instead, we have Magna Carta. As Lord Bagg continues to develop his history of the 1215 Charter, Dr No has been working on Magna Carta Medicorum, a present day Charter to ensure fair treatment of all doctors facing and under professional disciplinary regulation.

Magna Carta Medicorum

2015, as the wonderful Lord Bagg reminded us this morning, is the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta. The speech of the once melodious Melvyn is maturing into the voice of the English Establshmnt, in which later vowls are largely discardd, and each utternce is gaspd, as f’twere speakers last, though never is. Over those 800 years since the first Magna Carta, the Gods of ye mystries have placed the Charter firmly in the mythical sphere, and lodged it anywhere between the Ye Olde Scroll of Ye Commone Law, to a scrap of parchment that was binned shortly after it was penned. Somewhere in the middle ground it is seen, primarily, as the first declaration in English history that the King be subject to the same laws as his people, and that furthermore the laws must be both just, ordered and decided by one’s peers. It was a momentous change.

UKIP If You Want To…

Doing his best to out-kip UKIP, a British surgeon has come under fire for blowing the wrong sort of raspberries in that esteemed organ of Middle England thought – if that’s not too rich a word – known to its readers as The Daily Mail, and by various other non-printable names by its non-readers. The gist of ex-Prof – his professorship ‘expired’, however that happens, though the Mail continues to provide its man with a fictitious chair - Joseph Meirion Thomas’s jam is that the time has come to round up health tourists, nice lady doctors and GPs and shoo them back from whence they came, preparatory-like to re-staffing the health service with proper male hospital doctors.