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February 2010

The Varring and Betting Scheme

We are seeing the first blowback from the introduction last autumn of the Government’s absurdly over-egged Vetting and Barring scheme. Children scheduled for surgery are having their operations cancelled by zealous apparatchiks blocking surgeons who – despite CRB clearance in one trust – are being refused entry to others, where they would otherwise be able to operate. The var, one might say, between stooge and surgeon is on, and all operation bets are off.

On a benign view, this is an example of goal displacement – a triumph of process over outcome. One could leave it at that, were it not for the fact that this triumphant process has trumped real kids needing real operations by real surgeons. And so we have a scheme designed to protect children perversely achieving the opposite result – harm to children.

Nobody Expects the Revalidation Inquisition!

GMC Revalidation pilots have started. Dr No’s agents have been secretly filming progress, and a transcript of a recent ‘revalidation event’ follows.

A Responsible Officer’s plush office suite. The RO sits at his desk, holding a long sharp pin of the type favoured by neurologists in one hand, and a wax effigy in the other. He prepares to stick the former into the latter. There is a knock on the door.

Murder via the Orient Express

For many of its long and illustrious years, the Orient Express travelled across Europe from Calais via Zurich to exotic Eastern destinations. Were it still running today, it might well have found itself doing a brisk trade in one-way tickets to Switzerland, following the DPPs final guidance on prosecuting cases of assisted suicide issued today.

The final guidance has shifted its position significantly from that found in the interim guidance issued last year. The focus has moved away from factors associated with the suicidee (the best term Dr No can come up with to describe the ‘victim’) towards the motivation of the assister. If the assister can show that he or she was acting wholly out of compassion – that they acted with ‘love in their heart’ – then he or she is unlikely to be prosecuted.

Desperate Doctors

BMA Press Office

For Immediate Release

BMA Launches Sexy Doc Show

London, UK February 2010 – Britain’s leading medical association has launched a new TV series starring sexy young docs in a bid to boost trainee numbers.

Modelled on the recent BBC drama Desperate Romantics, the six part Desperate Doctors portrays junior doctor training to be a racy romp through the wards and clinics - far cry from the dull round of failed job applications and endless assessments depicted by many of today’s junior doctors.

Revalidung macht frei!

One of the more striking and duplicitous bits of Nazi propaganda was their use of the slogan “Arbeit Macht Frei” – ‘work makes you free’. It was widely used, but never with more cynical and chilling effect than over the entrance gates to the death camps. Dr No cannot help but notice that the Obersturmführers of medical revalidation have already started a creep towards similar twisted propaganda.

Snuffed Goose Recipe

We shall probably never know whether Ray Gosling was an inspired stage name, or the portentous real name for a lad who, after a TV life rich in sauce and stuffing, would spend much of his later life stuffed and trussed, before – in a final defiant gesture – spatchcocking himself on camera in a lonely graveyard.

Last Monday, early evening BBC viewers in the East Midlands region were greeted by Gosling, decked out in a fetching overcoat, ambling through the tombstones. Speaking in his best bus driver documentary voice, he mused: ‘Maybe this is the time to share a secret that I’ve kept for quite a long time’. Viewers expecting a homely confession that he rigged a past documentary were in for a shock.

No Man is an Island...

Unless, that is, you happen to be one of Ray Gosling’s unidentified lovers who happens to be seriously ill. Then you are very likely to find not only that you are an island, but a very small island; in fact a mere clod, about to be washed away by the sea – or, since it is more practical, smothered, while an obliging and obsequious doctor – would you Adam and Eve it - steps outside for a gasper.

Creeping Towards Totalitarianism

Totalitarianism does not arise spontaneously. It arrives instead by a series of steps, each one small enough; and, like the journey of a thousand miles that begins with a single step, many small steps can take us a long way from home; until one day we arrive in a strange world where the pigs walk on two legs, all are equal, but some more so that others, and the clocks strike thirteen.

One of the tenets of totalitarianism is the central importance of the State, and it is but a short step from that central importance to move towards notions of enemies of the State, and so to traitors in our midst. And so it is that the machinery of totalitarianism seeks to know the each and every detail about the lives of each and every one of us, lest we be the traitor in the midst. We move from a liberal default position of trust, to one of mistrust, and then distrust. No one can be trusted at face value; only the State can collect the data and decide who is trustworthy and, who is not.

A Year and a Day

Today is St Valentine’s day. It is also, by coincidence, the first anniversary of Dr No’s first post – a frivolous piece that borrowed from the wonderful Peter Cook, posted in the main to verify the site was live. A summer of distractions followed, and it was only in August that Dr No went public, with The Peter Squared Principle. Other bloggers were kind enough to link to Bad Medicine, even if the wise and sage Witch Doctor noticed the erratic posting history, and asked very reasonably ‘is he only going to be a blogger on heydays and holidays’?

Well, six months on the answer is plain for all to see. Dr No now posts regularly. And, as befits an anniversary, he finds himself reflecting on the past, and looking into the future. Whichever way he looks, he sees three dominating themes that have and will continue to exercise him. They are the Big Themes, and all carry a threat of very very Bad Medicine.

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’?

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