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Swap banter and banoffee for extraterrestrial booty

Sick Notes has always been of the opinion that creative sword-play was a good thing – but apparently not in medical school.

The RCGP and Royal College of Psychiatrists are teaming up to call for an end to the ‘systematic denigration’ of general practice and psychiatry, saying it is putting medical students off.

The RCPsych is already pushing a #banthebash campaign, to ‘address badmouthing, attitudes, and stigmatising in healthcare’, and Pulse understands the RCGP is developing a GP version of the campaign, with the help of members and medical students. 

RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker said: ‘This “banter” is yet another barrier we are up against when trying to recruit enough GPs to ensure a safe and robust service for the future of patient care.’

It is true that anything to boost the number of medical graduates choosing to become GPs has to be a good thing, but perhaps a stronger riposte is needed.

Sick Notes is willing to step in and equip any trainee with the requisite witty repartee. If taunted by a gastroenterologist simply question his obsession with tubes (‘Definitely some unresolved issues there, my friend’), while any sarcastic radiologist should be told to check her brain has not been addled by exposure to too many X-rays. Challenge surgeons (‘At least my patients are awake when I probe them’) and diabetologists (just laugh hysterically). But remember to be nice to anyone who works in a pain clinic. Really, really nice.

Your dessert is about to become a whole lot smaller as the NHS seeks to pare back puddings, reports the Times.

The newspaper reveals health secretary Jeremy Hunt had a meeting with more than 100 food companies – including Pizza Express, Starbucks and Gourmet Burger Kitchen – at which he read the riot act on portion sizes and sugar.

Waving a huge chocolate fudge cake in the air and shouting ‘How do you expect me to justify this?’ Mr Hunt threatened to ‘name and shame’ them if they did not trim their tarts or curtail their crumbles.

Public Health England has also told supermarkets that items such as breakfast cereals, jams and yoghurts have to be less sweet or smaller. Sick Notes would cheer, if it wasn’t for the huge mouthful of New York-style cheesecake. Oh, and the bit about the chocolate fudge cake was made up.

Only four in 10 of people who work closely with the Department of Health have ‘a clear understanding of its role and purpose’. A DH stakeholder survey, carried out by Ipsos MORI, found that 39% agreed they had this understanding, 35% disagreed and 26% neither agreed nor disagreed or didn’t know. 

Reports that these percentages were even higher for those working within the department were denied.


There were reports from last month’s Conservative party conference that photographers were very keen to get a particular angle on the health secretary. Let’s put it this way, the screen behind him had the word ‘country’ in very large letters and his head was obscuring a few of them. Very juvenile and Sick Notes does not at all approve.

In somewhat unusual sexual health news, it has been suggested NASA should send condoms into space to encourage aliens to have safe sex.

The Swedish Association for Sexuality Education said condoms may be ‘handy’ for visiting aliens who happen to meet any ‘hot earthlings’, reports the Daily Mail.

Noting World Contraception Day, the charity admitted: ‘We can’t be sure what aliens’ sex organs look like,’ but added: ‘A condom might come in handy if they decide to visit earth and find some hot earthlings.’ Sick Notes, for one, does not intend to be there when that happens.

PR fail of the month. Have the flu vaccine and ‘increase your sex appeal’ NHS workers were told by trusts in Merseyside. If only it were that easy.

It’s not all bad news….

If you are feeling under-appreciated, then have no fear, the Government is aiming to prioritise the recognition of doctors through the honours list and the proliferation of award ceremonies.

Speaking at a fringe event at the Conservative party conference in Birmingham on Monday, Pulse overheard health minister Philip Dunne saying recognition of this sort could provide ‘self-motivation’ for staff. 

Thanks for that Mr Dunne, but appropriate funding and less encouragement of inappropriate expectations would do the job better.