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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Chanting NHS managers? Why stop there?

Dr Pete Deveson

How do we encourage better performance? Some interesting solutions have been offered this week. In a scene that Merchant and Gervais would have dismissed as too far-fetched, hospital CEOs who’d been summoned by Jeremy Hunt for a bollocking about their failure to hit A&E targets were apparently forced to chant ‘we can do this’ in unison.

I don’t even know how to feel about this story; it’s at once both hilarious and yet also cringier than finding your nan’s sex toys. Despite their complicity in the demoralisation and demonisation of our junior colleagues in last year’s doctor’s strike, senior NHS managers have a tough job and I almost find myself feeling sorry for them, compelled to perform on command like the Zamundan Queen-To-Be.

Then I think of, say, the standard of every hospital accommodation ever offered to me or anyone else ever, and I go back to laughing again.

I’ve got nothing against positivity but, really? Since they haven’t furnished the assembled medical-honeymoon-wreckers with the necessary spondoolies required to actually fix the A&E problem, the Whitehall solution of upbeat chanting amounts to nothing more than Peter Pan-style magical thinking.

Just imagine if doctors applied the same methods. Chest pain? Forget the cath lab, let’s sit down and give your myocardium a stirring pep talk instead. And there’ll be no need to ration all that expensive IVF treatment, when you can simply stick the business end of a megaphone up there and exhort the little blighters to swim faster.

Meanwhile at the Labour Party Conference, which appears to sit on some kind of magical-thinking ley-line, the Guardian reports that MPs have suggested ‘enabling patients to somehow vote out GPs if they feel they get a bad service’.

I suppose this is the logical conclusion to the popularity contest we’ve already unwillingly entered with online reviews on NHS Choices et al, and I can’t see what could possibly go wrong. Everyone knows the most popular doctors are always the best, right?

Ideally it should be televised, so we can watch rival surgeries desperately handing out vote-winning benzos and Med3s before Simon Cowell picks a winner.

There’s one teensy problem with this scheme. The reason X Factor works is because thousands of hopefuls are queueing around the block for their turn on stage; but who will replace the losing doctors? When asked how close we are to hitting the 5,000 new GP target, a Department of Health spokesperson said: ‘We can do this! We can do this! We can do this! We can do this! We can do this! We can do this! We can do this! We can do this!’

Dr Pete Deveson is a GP in Surrey. You can follow him on Twitter @PeteDeveson

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Readers' comments (4)

  • Brilliant 🎆🎆🎆🎆🎆

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  • "Nan's sex toys....hilarious!! When I ask our CCG lead if she had to do it (our ED is basically under direct control of simon Stevens its so disastrous), the air turned blue!! She didn't, luckily a different team.

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  • Vinci Ho

    The way I would see this is more about reflecting the shallowness , lack of leadership and vision within the hierarchy of this government.
    As I repeatedly wrote , we are in a turning and critical point of the world history. The typical problem of disconnection and contradiction between central headquarter and frontline has never been solved. Whether it is central and local governments as illustrated in yesterday's Catalonian referendum(for instance )or our long-complained relationship between grass-root GPs and DoH/NHSE(supported by pro-establishment academics).
    The prime minister's government had earned its well 'deserved' reputation with labels: zombie , dead woman walking or just about managing(JAMs as her own creation)etc.
    Problem is ,she is avoiding rather than facing up to the domestic issues which urgently need tangible solutions, more specifically real investment of resources. So far , the only investment she had made was a pact with a Northern Ireland political party to secure her own position. People clearly have their judgement on the definition of 'social justice'.
    Somehow, even nature had not helped her own crusade . Grenfell Tower disaster against a backdrop of a series of terror attacks portrayed a general election campaign well cursed and condemned from 'higher divinity' . One could have a similar argument and verdict on Trump cursed by a series of hurricanes in a matter of weeks , as soon as he distanced himself away from the Paris Agreement on climate changes .
    ''The disasters we witnessed on earth are not merely the 'punishment' by the divine power down from heaven . Instead , they are warnings to those, with parochial minds,fighting against each other for positions of power and hence ,ignoring the best interests of ordinary people.''
    (下民之孽,匪降自天。噂沓背憎,職競由人。)
    quote from Shijing(詩經)
    xxxxxxxxxx
    Indeed , the prime minister is under phenomenal pressure from both inside and outside of her party . The opposition from Labour Party has transformed from feeble to formidable in only a matter of three months . Then she had her foreign secretary declaring his 'support' but with the tenacity of writing over 4000 words articles outlining his own manifesto.
    The truth is our country is facing the danger of political polarities of far left and right . Mr Johnson is obviously a big fan of poems from Rudyard Kipling(whom George Orwell labelled as ' the prophet of British imperialism'). On the other hand , the shadow chancellor, a fan of Marxism and Leninism(perhaps also dialectical materialism) was talking about 'a run on the pound' and war games mentality in confronting the market response if his party is to be elected (which reminded me of class-struggle ideology).
    The middle is missing, the moderate is gone . Either side is getting 'angrier' and 'louder' with rhetorics beyond ridiculous.
    So much soul searching for those holding power.....

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  • I wouldn't mind being voted out if like an MP I had their work hours and intensity, gold plated pensions and parachute payments.
    And off course whilst working I could also take bungs from corporations to soften my fall. Just like MPs.

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