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The Pulse Annual Awards

At the end of another pretty dreadful year, Pulse steps in with some seasonal cheer, giving out our annual awards to individuals whose efforts have contributed most to the overall gloom

The Toby Young award for fitting in at school


Winner: Sajid Javid

There’s always a kid who joins a school and, in an effort to make friends, picks on the kids everyone else likes to bully. In this case, the child – who we’ll call Sajid J to protect his identity – joined in with the bullying of the biology students. The popular kids – let’s call them Allison P, Daley M and Telly G – like to accuse the biology students of never turning up for lessons even though they are constantly, gruellingly, toiling away at their desks. 

Little Saj gleefully told the whole school it was ‘high time’ for the biology students to start seeing patients face to face, leaving the biology students’ spirits as tortured as this analogy. 

Sadly, having been installed by the school governor, Saj also controls how much money the biology students get, how much work they have to do and thus their whole morale. The number of biology students in the school is dwindling. 

The Tony Soprano award for holding a vendetta


Winner: Allison Pearson

Everyone’s favourite Telegraph columnist is one of the fixtures at these awards. The consistency of her vendetta against GPs, usually pursued with a vitriolic obsessiveness through her tweets and columns, would put any Mafia boss to shame. 

This year, her opening shot was a column titled: ‘GPs are improving their work-life balance while worsening the life-death balance of everyone else’.

Yet it was her second column that propelled her into Mafia don territory: ‘Time to turn the heat up on GPs who won’t see us face to face’ .

‘Any GP who won’t give me a 30-minute in-practice appointment for my athlete’s foot might soon find themselves sleeping with the fishes,’ she might or might not have gone on to say. 

The Donald Trump award for hypocrisy


Winner: Matt Hancock

Hypocritical Hancock ended his three years as health secretary – in which he took on the century’s biggest public health crisis mainly through the use of apps – with a bang (er, literally). His tenure had involved thoroughly modern scandals, such as support for Babylon or smart procurement vehicles to give lucrative contracts to mates. 

But it was an old-fashioned sex scandal that was his downfall, following the revelation in June of his affair with aide Gina Colangelo. And the hypocrisy of flouting his own social-distancing rules was probably the least of his problems there, as his wife of 15 years, Martha, would be sure to testify. 

Mr Hancock was last seen waiting for Sue Cook at the Linton Travel Tavern.

The Brit award for most shameful 1990s pop act


Winner: Right Said Fred

What were musicians doing in the 1990s that left their brains so addled? Apropos of nothing, many of them are now opposing the use of drugs, in the form of vaccines.  

Retweeting an article: ‘Adults who are fully vaccinated are 47% less likely to have long Covid’, Right Said Fred commented: ‘So 53% more likely? That’s not impressive.’ They were clearly too sexy for maths.

Jim Corr – most famous for being the least famous Corr – claimed the 91-year-old woman who was the first to get a vaccine was an ‘actor’. And Ian Brown has spent the year ranting, at one point saying he would NEVER EVER play at an event that required people to be vaccinated. As one Twitter user put it: ‘That’s up to Butlin’s, surely?’

The Marble Arch mound money well spent award


Winner: Dido Harding

There was a point last year when Dido Harding was a contender for chief executive of NHS England. Had that transpired we could declare these awards – and indeed all satire – dead. Fortunately for us, Ian Hislop and Paul Merton, it didn’t happen. Yet she is still a worthy winner of this award. 

Although Ms Harding’s finest work was done in 2020, she left her role as head of NHS Test and Trace in April this year, having spent £37bn, which is almost impressive. And it succeeded in… well, we’re still trying to find out. 

In a reminder of the problems with the testing regime Dido set up, as recently as October, some 43,000 people were wrongly assured they were free of Covid. A Wolverhampton facility issued many thousands of negative results, even though those affected had previously been lateral flow positive. Did someone say ‘world leading’?

The (almost) thankless task award


Winner: GPs

We’ve reported on GPs sacrificing their weekends, bank holidays and annual leave to keep the health of the nation ticking over. From delivering a wide-scale vaccination programme from a standing start, to adopting new modes of working and juggling remote management with the ever-changing rules on face-to-face consultations, they did it all. And often with hefty staff shortages from Covid-enforced isolation. 

So they must have received heartfelt thanks, right? Not quite. Instead they have had to deal with a hostile press, hostile commissioners and hostile patients. Yet every day GPs come back to do it all over again. 

From all of us at Pulse, thank you (even if that does mean you are no longer eligible for this award). 


Patrufini Duffy 14 December, 2021 2:43 pm

And the 2021 disease awards for greatest blah use of GP time goes to???:

Tired all the time
Panic attacks
Back pain
Can you check my thyroid
Sick note for long covid
“Friend told me I have cancer, so I thought I’d check”

paul cundy 15 December, 2021 8:45 am

no, “i had it last week and its gone now but I thought i’d check”.

Patrufini Duffy 15 December, 2021 4:27 pm

Yes PC…I think that’s it!
The magical disappearing axillary lymph node.