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Think tanks peeved by Pulse’s pedalo

There is nothing more satisfying than riling a think tank. Sick Notes was pleased to note that Pulse rattled the cages of at least two last month with its investigation on personal health budgets.

It revealed NHS cash is being spent on pedalo rides, massages and holidays, even as the health service preaches austerity to staff. The story generated a great deal of national media interest.

But the headlines caused eggheads at the 2020Health think tank to throw down their lattes in disgust. One penned an angry blog entry, branding the Pulse investigation ‘arrogant, regressive and out of context’.

‘Only patients themselves know why improving their health matters to them – which is why we need to start thinking of ourselves as PARTICIPATIENTS (sic),’ wrote the tetchy think-tanker, with probably the worst mangling of the English language by a pseudo-academic since the term ‘vanguardista*’.


Pulse also scooped the coveted ‘reactionary of the week’ prize from the Reform think tank for the same story.

And it’s not surprising Reform had an axe to grind. It was swivel-eyed marketeers at the right-wing think tank who came up with the idea to fragment funding for core services in the first place.

But Sick Notes hears that Pulse was rather flattered by the new title. Previous recipients include BMA chair Dr Mark Porter for daring to suggest that hospitals ‘need more money not greater efficiency’ and Green party leader Caroline Lucas who suggested a law to ‘favour public sector delivery of public services’.

Pulse is happy to share a ‘reactionary’ pedalo with such esteemed company.


There was much discussion at the Health and Care Innovation Expo 2015 last month over the health secretary’s speech.

Most of it focused on his comments about enabling 15% of NHS users to access their GP record via a smartphone app by 2016/17, but Sick Notes can reveal the press room was buzzing over a more revealing admission from Jeremy Hunt – how he spends his summer holidays.

As a segue into a section on the joys of technology and NHS IT (and how the interweb is, like, really great) our glorious leader revealed a penchant for booking holiday accommodation on Airbnb.

For those of you who are not familiar, this website allows owners to rent their property to travellers coming to their part of the world. Sick Notes can only imagine the conversation when Mr Hunt and his family turn up for the keys.

‘I’m going to offer you a “new deal” on our booking: we’ll ask for lots of extras and then refuse to pay for them. Does that sound good?’


The world’s most boring medical journal has launched, causing huge excitement among medicines management leads.

According to publicity material seen by Sick Notes, the Journal Of Medicines Optimisation (JOMO) will be ‘the only multidisciplinary publication currently available which deals with the concept and practical implementation of this new enhanced form of medicines utilisation’.

Sick Notes sees a valuable opportunity to cut the NHS drugs bill. If JOMO was handed out free at sleep clinics across the land, imagine the savings on diazepam?


NHS England’s policy on GP practice closures has always been a touch absurd. But it’s now been taken to a new level.

NHS bosses professed (with no discernible irony) to be ensuring access to ‘high-quality GP services’ by closing three branches of a practice in Northumberland. Yes, you read that correctly.

Dr Craig Melrose, interim medical director for NHS England Cumbria and the North East, told the Northumberland Gazette: ‘NHS England’s main priority is to ensure patients have access to high-quality GP services, therefore the practice will close from August 28, 2015, with no further service provided at Harbottle or the two branch surgeries. Patients will need to register with a new practice to ensure continuity of care.’

A quick Google told Sick Notes some of the patients face an hour’s drive to benefit from this continuity of care. Barmy.


Best out of office auto-reply over the summer goes to Professor Willie Hamilton. While Sick Notes is happy with camping on Flamborough Head, the GP cancer researcher toured Zambia and Namibia.

‘The electricity supply is hydro-electric, and it’s the dry season. So, power is intermittent, and the internet even more so,’ he says to correspondents. ‘And I’m on holiday, so shouldn’t be reading messages anyway… though I will try and sneak a look from time to time (when it’s raining – which it won’t).’ Thanks for that.


PR fail of the week. Press release entitled: ‘Are you going cold turkey on meat?’ No. Next question.