Hark! The herald angels sing. The Pulse awards for 2017
We return with our annual sparkly gongs for achievements that perhaps are best forgotten
The Donald Trump Fake News Award
capita alamy red suo 3x2
If only Capita was as good at transferring patient records or paying practices on time as it is at conducting surveys. It claimed in June that 58% of primary care providers were ‘satisfied’ with its service. We’re not saying this is ‘fake news’… actually, that’s exactly what we’re saying. GPs continue to report problems and the LMCs Conference voted to call on NHS England to deal with Capita’s ‘continued failures’ (this award follows Capita scooping our ‘Nigel Farage Piss-up in a Brewery’ gong last year).
Runners-up: NHS England/DH press officers
After Pulse revealed in October that NHS England was considering banning ‘walk-in’ patients from A&E without a referral from their GP or NHS 111, press officers denied the story. Sadly for them, we had a recording of NHS England’s integrated urgent health lead saying just that and they were forced to apologise.
The Lewis Hamilton Screeching U-turn Award
Winner: Jeremy Hunt
Jeremy Hunt - online
The health secretary’s goal for England to ‘train and retain 5,000 extra GPs by 2020’ was hastily discarded when it was revealed up to 3,000 of these new GPs will be poached from overseas – which, the DH claims, was always part of the plan. Not content with one U-turn, Mr Hunt’s proposal at his party’s 2016 conference that UK-trained doctors would be handcuffed to the NHS for four years was quietly dropped this year after a consultation made clear what a ridiculous idea it was.
The BMA has U-turned so often over whether GPs can conscientiously object to supporting a patient’s application for a firearms licence that no one is quite sure what the current advice is – least of all the BMA, which will probably have changed it again by the time you read this.
The Won’t Someone Think of the Children Award
Winner: Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard
02 helen stokes lampard power50 2017 2
The RCGP chair told GPs in July: ‘Don’t vent on your juniors’ as it will put them off becoming GPs. But Pulse’s special trainee issue in August suggested covering the ears of bright-eyed, bushy-tailed trainees was not necessary. Far from thinking general practice was a breeze, future GPs are well aware of the its true nature and happy to push on with their career regardless.
The GPs Best Placed Award
Winner: Harriet Harman
Harriet Harman official portrait
Source: UK Parliament
Do you remember driving examiner skills being part of GP training? Labour’s former deputy prime minister Harriet Harman does, and thinks GPs could assess over-75s’ fitness to drive at their annual health check. As the BMA GP Committee’s Dr Robert Morley put it: ‘That is one of the most bonkers things I’ve heard from a politician in many years – quite some achievement.’
Runner-up: NHS England
After the Grenfell Tower disaster, NHS England decided that rather than invest in fire-safe materials for council buildings, the way to improve safety is (you guessed it) for GPs to check whether high-rise residents have a fire alarm and know how to exit the building. After passing them fit to drive, presumably.
The Conor McGregor Starting a Fight You Can’t Win Award
Winner: Jeremy Hunt
Most people wouldn’t lock horns with one of the foremost brains in the world, but our beloved health secretary is not most people. Professor Stephen Hawking said patients were turning to private care to avoid NHS waiting times (as Pulse reported last year – great minds and all that), but Mr Hunt called the claim a ‘pernicious falsehood’. Probably best to quit while you are way behind, Mr Hunt.
Runner-up: Theresa May
In January, when Theresa May was still ‘strong and stable’, she decided to pick on GPs, claiming long waits in A&E were due to GPs ‘not providing the access patients need’. Twelve months on, the PM is clinging to power, surrounded by ministers plotting to take her job. Coincidence?
Pantomine Villain of the Year
jackie doyle price mp e9 b53 r ©paul davey alamy stock photo
You may have thought the reasons you struggle to cope with patient demand are underfunding and a chronic shortage of GPs. Conservative MP for Thurrock Jackie Doyle-Price knows better. Before becoming a health minister in June, she said it’s because ‘GP practices aren’t delivering enough to meet local demand’. After all, ‘they get the money to do so’. Good to know all the best brains get in to Richmond House.