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The NHS fumbles around in the dark

Sick Notes-August-Online

‘Of course, I am more than happy to show you how to fumble your prostate’

NHS England is regretting skipping its anatomy lectures, after it was caught out during its ‘Fumble Friday’ campaign to get people to check their wobbly bits.

The hapless body urged the public on Twitter to ‘check for prostate and breast cancer’ every week and then follow everyone else doing the same using its #FumbleFriday moniker.

Several of the responses to this call to action were quite frankly unprintable, but one – remarkably restrained – GP, Dr Gavin Jamie from Swindon, asked: ‘Where do I have to fumble to check myself for prostate cancer?’

The question went unanswered, but it later transpired NHS England actually intended to talk balls – sorry, testicles. Reports that managers have still not pulled their fingers out and are struggling to tell their backsides from their elbows have not been confirmed.

The BMA Annual Representative Meeting took a turn for the surreal in Harrogate. Perhaps it was all the excitement of Betty’s Tea Room, but the great and the good appeared to have lost all sense of perspective by the end of the five-day meeting in North Yorkshire in June.

An emergency motion submitted by a BMA Council member urging industrial action to protest at the Government’s treatment of GP practices was rejected on the final day of the meeting in favour of one from former GPC negotiator Dr Peter Holden criticising the BMA bear for being ‘bare below the elbows’.

To Sick Notes’ surprise, one BMA Scotland member even stood up and gave a passionate speech urging the BMA to reserve places on all committees for bears.

Now far be it for Sick Notes to accuse the profession’s leaders of trivialising the conference that is meant to set BMA policy, but surely with growing reports of practice closures and the recruitment crisis there were more important things to discuss than the attire of a plastic bear.

So there we have it. The arch media enemy of GPs has finally disclosed the ultimate goal in its war of attrition against the NHS. Sick Notes spotted the extraordinary admission in a recent editorial from the Daily Mail entitled ‘Our health service needs major surgery’.

The editorial said that, even after charging pesky foreigners for their NHS care and stripping out all those layers of ‘useless’ management, there would still not be enough money to plug the estimated £2bn gap in the NHS’s finances. The newspaper’s considered solution? Privatise it.

The editorial said a debate was needed and that ‘this paper believes the debate should include an examination of successful healthcare systems overseas, which mix private insurance with public funding’. It went on to say that ‘what is certain is that the political class simply mustn’t keep running away from this issue, for we can’t go on as we are’.

And – with no discernible hint of irony – the Mail goes on to end its argument with a choice quote from the Iron Lady: ‘As Margaret Thatcher put it so succinctly: “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money”.’

Indeed. Although quite how the proposed privatisation will save costs is not explained, which is particularly relevant, after a recent report showed the NHS is delivering the best care in the developed world for the second-cheapest amount per head, as opposed to the US, whose insurance-based system the report said was ‘the most expensive in the world’.

Silly season has well and truly started, with public relations firms cranking up their bad pun machines for health journalists to enjoy. Sick Notes has already been offered ‘a Brazilian-style booty’ (something to do with fish oils and bottoms), a new Candida diet (no yeast allowed) and pedi-perfect feet (exfoliating socks).

But it was a press release about how festival season could perk up the old love life that really caught Sick Notes’ attention. Brazenly entitled: ‘Sex in a Tent’ the release details all the canvas-covered activities that could reawaken passions. ‘Don’t worry too much about excessive washing,’ it intones. ‘We are over-sanitised these days. The smell of a man’s armpits are said to really activate women’s libido. Be natural for a weekend – so everyone’s in the same boat.’ Several CPD points to bring up in your next appraisal right there.

The Daily Mail pops up again, in Sick Notes’ favourite GP quote of the week. Faced with the news that actor George Clooney had written a piece attacking the newspaper for printing a story about his fiancée’s family, Birmingham LMC’s very own silver fox, Dr Robert Morley, responded: ‘Excuse me George, but join the bloody queue!’ Classic.