Our first task this morning was to find a number of roofing panels that were blown off during the night. It was as if someone up there decided that we were allowed good weather for the big event, and should now be reminded that the British climate is not to be trusted. Having done that, we left Bob to perform his usual wonders with a screwdriver and spent a blustery hour digging trenches in readiness for the latest burial of chicken output. And it seems that we are not alone in doing a bit of burying. Yesterday the government decided to release some devastating news about the NHS in the certain knowledge that the media would have other things on its collective mind.
Monitor, the quango set up by the coalition to oversee all Foundation Hospitals ( a status planned for every hospital that survives the Lansley reforms), announced that each unit must face funding cuts of 7%, something of a change from all the talk of NHS funding being ‘ring-fenced’). Very few of the large hospitals have any ‘fat’ left after endless imposed ‘efficiency targets’ and several have already made clear their plans to cut services and extend waiting lists. This is a serious development but the spin-doctors got it right, no one noticed the press release on a day when William and Kate entranced us all.
And there was another piece of unwelcome news for David Cameron, which again won only small mention on a day when we were looking the other way. Remember Cameron’s ‘keep calm dear’ remark to Angela Eagle? She was attempting to claim that the story he was telling about a GP who fiercely supported the plan to transfer all commissiong to GP practices, was untrue. This one GP, he inferred, knew far more than the Royal College which universally condemned the idea. The prime minister appeared to be reading from a letter from a Dr Howard Stoate and those of us who know well the workings of the health service were impressed that he had managed to find even one GP prepared to speak out aginst his colleagues in such a forceful way.
It now transpires that the greatest PR man of them all read only selected extracts of Dr Stoate’s letter! The Doctor, and former MP for Dartford, has published a statement. “Doctors do not glibly accept every aspect of the health bill”, he says. He goes on to say that the prime minister was guilty of taking his remarks out of context and stating a conclusion that was “entirely misleading”. He concludes by demanding that “Cameron should stop using the health service as a political football”.
So the news that was buried on the nation’s day of celebration is very bad news indeed. It tells us that the NHS cuts are real and are about to prove very damaging. And it tells us that rather than staging a listening exercise, Cameron and Lansley are being extremely economical with the truth.
As I have remarked before, the view of many senior clinicians is that the NHS is being thrown into a tailspin from which it cannot recover. For once I find myself in agreement with Alistair Campbell when he says that ; “the plans are not thought through, not popular with those who run the NHS or use it, and politically toxic, not least because they have no mandate for them”.
The whole episode reinforced my feelings of yesterday about the importance of the Monarchy. As I wrote then, it seems to me that the Royals have one advantage over any politican of today. They are honest. Meantime we should prepare for the death of the NHS!
THOUGHTS FOR TODAY; COMMUNICATION “I climbed a mountain and hollered, ‘Hellooo!’. A voice came back, ‘The echo is busy at the moment. Leave a message at the beep, and we’ll get back to you”…….Eddie Izzard “Mobile phones are the only subject on which men boast about who’s got the smallest”….Neil Kinnock “When I’m on a train and someone starts to bellow into their mobile phone I shout, ‘Quiet! I’m trying to travel”……Maureen Lipman “The concept behind the mobile phone is that you have absolutely nothing to say and you’ve got to talk to someone about it right now”…….Jerry Seinfeld “The cell phone people say there’s absolutely no danger from cell phone rdaiation. Boy, it didn’t tak ethose tobacco executives long to find new jobs, did it?”……..Bill Maher
ANSWERS TO THURSDAY’S QUIZ; 1. George Lucas 2. For her sculpture.
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. In which year did President Nasser die? 2. How did the Japanese writer Yukio Mishima die?