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used to think that the Rt Hon Alan Milburn was the pits of stupidity and
unintelligence as Secretary of State for Health.
He was the one, you may recall, who thought the way to get
doctors on-side was to control them to the extreme degree.
To this end, he seemed to set up a new disciplinary body every week.
The Milburn method of man-management was to eat the carrot
himself and beat the slaves but what else could one expect from a man of
he suddenly decided to spend more time with his family whilst seeking
employment in, it is alleged, a health related industry – and, of
course, carrying on as a back-bencher in Parliament.
even Milburn has been surpassed in sheer incompetence by his latest
successor, the Rt Hon Patricia Hewitt.
She has succeeded in even annoying the BMA – and that, believe
me, takes some doing.
you, it was the negotiating ineptness of the BMA GPs’ committee which
has made Mrs Hewitt’s primary care idiocies possible.
Dr John Chisholm CBE, the GPC Chairman, almost railroaded his
reforms through against a great deal of opposition.
He was trusted. Somewhat
unwisely as it turns out. The
overall effect of the Chisholm reforms has been to fatally fragment
general practice to make it easier for the Department of Health to
control and, boy, are they controlling!!
Chisholm, together with a fellow GP negotiator, gave a personal vote of
no confidence in his own reforms by quickly leaving the NHS to enter
private general practice.
I digress! Back to Mrs
intellectually challenged incumbent is rewarding the GPs, whom she
says are doing a splendid job for the NHS, by, as one medical
newspaper (PULSE) put it, instituting “an era of scrutiny and
suspicion”. She is
driving a coach and horses through medical regulation.
regulation will vanish as a lay majority takes over the GMC and the
standard of proof required to find a doctor guilty will diminish to
“the balance of probability” rather than “beyond reasonable
Mrs Hewitt had had the intelligence to think this through she would have
understood that if a doctor’s livelihood is to be so easily ripped
away from him he is going to attempt to prevent that by practising ever
more and more expensive defensive medicine, “just in case”.
Not only that, doctors who are found guilty will, with the help
of their defence bodies, be appealing every case, cluttering up the High
Courts for years to come. Not
to mention Mrs Blair’s Matrix Chambers.
of course, she did not see that.
Nor did she anticipate the seething resentment caused by the
general practice Mrs Hewitt thought it an excellent move to deny GPs a
pay rise – any rise at all – for a second year running.
This because she and her own negotiators had freely agreed a
contract with the GPC which meant that GPs would, at last, be paid for
the work they did. Unfortunately
for her, GPs worked very hard and had to be paid for it.
Whilst claiming to the press that GPs are worth it Mrs Hewitt
took lessons from her Chancellor colleague, who has been stealthily
thieving from the peoples’’ pockets for years, and is seeking to
equally stealthily claw back hard earned income from GPs.
very morale boosting.
that is going on, one of her juniors, health minister Andy Burnham has
written to GPs to tell them that they face “a real drop in income
unless they deliver government priorities in future”.
This unpleasant young man seems to be telling GPs not to
concentrate on clinical needs or patient care but to do what the
government wants. Sieg Heil!
who do not do what the government wants will very likely be fined by
their Primary Care Trust as yet another national disciplinary body is rolled
out on top of all the Milburn punishment QUANGOs.
And just to help the managers in their quest, Mrs Hewitt is to
make it easier for “whistleblowers to “take their concerns directly
to the PCTs or the GMC”.
doctors really enjoy working in today’s NHS.
of patients, GPs are being coerced into switching patients on to the
cheapest drugs possible despite the proven threat to patient safety from
counterfeit drugs or greater side-effects.
in general practice has not been improved by the government’s
intentions over revalidation and appraisal of GPs.
Mrs Hewitt is pushing through measures to ensure that appraisal
should become a summative performance assessment.
Already scores of GP appraisers are threatening to resign their
posts if this comes about.
more Departmental idiocy has entered general practice in the guise of
“choose and book”. This
scheme was intended to allow patients a choice of where they are
treated. The only thing is
is that the system is electronically so inadequate that patients have even
less choice than before and GPs are wasting hours of consulting time
trying to make it work. Consequently
only the managers choose where patients end up – and, by the way,
the golden days of yore the GP knew all the local consultants and
hospitals and simply asked the patient where he would like to go.
That was too simple for the Hewitt’s of this world, so they
imposed “choose and book”.
Worse, in some parts of the country GPs are being actively
discouraged by their PCT from direct referrals to consultants they know
above are but a small number of the many, many irritations and extreme
annoyances which Mrs Hewitt has wantonly imposed on the profession.
There are others, such as enforced out-of-hours work, despite agreeing a
contract to abolish it, and the cap on GP pensions.
I could go on.
has to wonder at her thought processes if she believes that she will
gain a willing medical work-force this way.
it because she is sufficiently small-minded to be jealous of a
profession which, despite all her serious and deliberate efforts to
denigrate and belittle it, has so far come consistently at the top of
popularity and trust polls whilst, as a politician, she and her
colleagues wallow in the mire at the bottom of the scale?
a reason for that, of course, she should look no further than her
wonder, then, that in a recent poll in Doctor magazine, 82% of GPs
wanted a ballot on industrial action.
done, Mrs Hewitt. You are a credit to your government.
I have not mentioned the fiasco and dangers to patients from the
multi-billion pound unworkable NHS IT system which she is attempting to
foist on a unwilling profession, Mind
you, she has lost all chance of the majority of doctors being willing to
do anything voluntarily for her.
have I mentioned the deceit of arch-stealth operator Gordon Brown in
taking the credit for financing large numbers of hospitals. The
truth is that the
PFI project, in fact, hides the payment for future generations to
stump up as they pay private industry a huge amount of around £53billion in rent
for hospitals costing a mere fraction of that sum.
But I mustn't finish without giving a mention to the dumbing down of consultant training where the training period is being shortened by some years whilst, at the same time, the working time directive shortens the working week. The effect will be that the government will achieve its target for consultant numbers but they won't be anything close to as well trained as current consultants. British excellence will be diluted but what does the government care?
Whilst all this is going on, of course, there is the on-going utter fiasco of the junior (training) doctors' search for their next job. The childish and petty computer interview system which seems to make a specialty of doing anything but match candidates for the job. The system which denies choice to the doctor of where he shall work or even of specialty - and where these 30-odd year old adults shall uproot their family and children to - does not even accept CVs or references. Junior doctors don't have lives, apparently, they are trash to be dealt with as Hewitt dictates.
article has concentrated almost entirely on primary care but PCTs and
hospitals are all in utter chaos. Some
are even technically bankrupt but Mrs Hewitt has cooked the books with
creative accounting to make it appear that the NHS is actually in
isn’t. It’s dying and,
not withstanding all the chaos, ineptitude, arrogance and stupidity she
has been responsible for the woman still clings to her job – just like her discredited and
discreditable boss, Tony Blair.
When will the country be rid of them?
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