Dr No's Editor's Choice

A selection of Dr No's posts, ordered by number of page views. Older posts tend to have more weight because they have been around longer, and so have more time to gain page views.

Re-order by date (latest first), number of comments (desc), no particular order (random) or return to order by page views.

NHS – The Apprentice

Opening Titles: Camera swoops across London teaching hospital rooftops – St Thomas’, Guy’s Tower, the cruciform Royal Free. The second half of Mars from Holst’s The Planets throbs loudly. Cut to UCL’s Accident & Emergency entrance at night. A large NHS blue Roller, Registration Mark NHS 1, arrives, with what appears to be a Belisha Beacon in the back seat. The door opens, and Lord Sugar steps out, looking very grim. He points at an Ambulance Paramedic.

Sugar: You’re Fired.

Paramedic: Thank you, Lord Sugar. (walks off, trailing a defibrillator trolley on wheels, towards a waiting taxi. The Belisha Beacon gets noticeably oranger).

Voiceover: The NHS. A decayed, inefficient state monopoly that consumes money as a waterfall does water. Waste is everywhere, and indifference is rife. Even nice Gerry Robinson couldn’t fix the NHS. Lord Sugar has had enough.

Sugar (to camera): It’s a shambles, a bloody disgrace.

Lest We Forget: A Poppy for the NHS

Dr No observes Remembrance. Last Friday, the day before yesterday, at the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, and this time as it happens of the eleventh year of the century, he fell silent and still for two minutes, and remembered those who have given their lives for the freedom we enjoy today. It is a moment of solemn awe for the sacrifice made, and of great humility in the face of such selflessness.

Remembrance was made that bit more poignant this year by the breaking news that Circle Health had signed the long foretold contract to run Hinchingbrooke Hospital. This contract is a clear challenge to the authority, competence and perhaps most of all to the values of the NHS; a challenge which, if not seen off, will in short order threaten the very life of the NHS.

Most Drugs Don’t Work

Just over three years ago, when few had heard of him, Dr No wrote a post called The Collapse of the Probability Function. At its heart lies the troublesome paradox that, while we might know how a group of patients might fare, we have no way of knowing how individual patients will fare. We might know that of a hundred patients, five will die in the next ten years from a heart attack. What we don’t know is who of the hundred will be the five; and the flip side of that is, when as doctors we choose to intervene, as increasingly we do, there are ninety five souls now tangled in our medical web, with all that that entails, be it tests, treatments and general apprehension, who were never going to have a heart attack anyway, let alone die from one in the next ten years. That’s a whole lot of medical intervention without any benefit whatsoever – but what the heck – overall, we might save a handful of lives - or so the hopeful reasoning goes.

Council to Survey Turkeys about Christmas

For Immediate Release:

Council to Survey Turkeys about Christmas

GTC Press Office, London, UK

Thousands of turkeys are to be invited to take part in a survey of their views about Christmas, the General Turkey Council has announced.

The survey is part of a new piece of research examining whether turkeys think the GTC is operating in a fair and objective way and whether turkeys from different backgrounds have different views of the Council’s processes.

Frankie Goes to Holloway

The trouble with love is that it can cover a multitude of sins.

No doubt a number of the catholic priests who abuse little boys believe they have ‘love in their heart’. Those that do not have cynically used the love of the Mother Church to mask their obscene acts. Where better for those with sin in their heart to hide than under the cloak of the priesthood?

And as in priesthood, so in parenthood. Not all parents will have the best interests of their children at heart. Some will be misguided, others more sinister in their intent. And what better mask for such a parent than a plea of ‘love in the heart’?

The Ultimate Quack Remedy

Top Prize in the recent busting homeopathy stakes undoubtedly goes to Simon Singh for his wonderfully effective puncturing and deflating of the pompous David Tredinnick MP on the Today programme. Tredders was wind-bagging on about how they do homeopathy better in France, but he hadn’t bargained on Singh doing his homework. The best selling homeopathic remedy in France, said Singh, is a ’flu remedy made from the mashed up entrails of a single Muscovy duck that generates a staggering $15 million of revenue. It was, said Singh brilliantly, ‘the ultimate quack remedy’. Tredders had more than his wings clipped: he was permanently grounded; while Humph was reduced to muttering something about getting his hands on ‘that duck’.

The Secret Nail in the NHS Coffin

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words, and the photograph on the left – taken covertly last weekend at a top secret boot camp for Tory operatives soon to be charged with ‘fixing’ the NHS – tells us only too clearly what the Tories have in mind for our health service. But illuminating as such images are, to gain a fuller picture we have also to look at the legal framework on which such proposed activities hang, and the legal framework on which the National Health Service hangs is the National Health Service Act 1946, and its derivatives, temporal and spiritual, including the National Health Service Acts 1977 and 2006, and most recently the proposed Health and Social Care Bill, currently at committee stage before Parliament.

The first notable change is the name: gone are the references to ‘National’ and ‘Service’; instead we now have ‘Health’, conveniently bundled with that great Tory fiscal irritation, ‘Social Care’. At a stroke, the National Health Service has lost its special status, and been teamed up with just another drain on the public purse.

Smedley Cans Himself

Last night, the Incredible Dement shocked the nation. Appearing on BBC2, armed with only a Euro-Rover ticket and a large hat, he toured the Continent, boldly seeking out destinations where others fear to tread. Everywhere he went, it was either raining or snowing, for these were the lands that God forgot. Soon it became apparent that, when the ID was on the road, all roads led, not to sun and the Eternal City, but to snow, and an another altogether different type of Eternity. They led to Zurich, to a dapper blue house tucked away on an industrial estate – a planning requirement, you understand – where a Mr Peter Smedley, late of the canning concern, was about to do to himself what his family had spent decades doing to peas. The only difference was that Smedley would emerge not in a can, but an urn. He had come to Dignitas, to die.

Ain’t Turning No Machine Off

“I ain’t turning no machine off” said Kelly, as if she was a teenager talking about shutting down her Playstation. In fact, she was a mother talking about turning off the life support for her very premature baby.

And so it was that last night's BBC2 documentary 23 Week Babies: the Price of Life exposed one of the central dilemmas at the heart of the medical and ethical minefield that is whether to resuscitate very premature babies. Kelly was clearly up for not turning no machines off. Whether she was up for understanding, let alone navigating, the medico-moral minefield was another matter altogether. She hadn’t even in fact been asked to turn no machine off, only what her views were on aggressive resuscitation should her baby take a turn for the worst. The program’s presenter, Adam Wishart – a thoughtful cove whose brief onscreen appearances featured averted eyes, even if the eyes of his cameras probed mercilessly – asked: is it right to place such a burden of responsibility on the parents?

The XX Factor

Were it not for the genuinely sad nature of the case, the last few hours of Lynn Gilderdale’s life could almost have about it the air of a grotesque Benny Hill sketch. In a surreal speeded up video, complete with that memorable theme tune, one might see Kay Gilderdale rushing around their home, searching out pills and potions, furious grinding in pestle and mortar, frantic googling, over-size syringes full of air…

…and all in very bad taste, Dr No fully agrees. But sometimes he wonders whether it isn’t necessary to look a little harder at the current wave of mother-love hysteria that has risen on the back of the Inglis and Gilderdale trials for murder and attempted murder of their respective children.