Dr Copperfield on the author behind NHS England’s documents
There I was sleep-reading the latest NHS England (NHSE) rescue package ‘Delivery plan for recovering urgent and emergency care services’, AKA how to tackle a conflagration with a water pistol when an odd feeling of familiarity came over me.
It was almost as though I had seen this kind of document before. Was it the familiar format of promised money (billions!), recycled ideas (Falls Clinics!!) or case studies (look, they did it, why can’t you!!!)?
Or was it the reflex tendency to think you can solve a problem by assigning it to, or containing it within, a hub – thus, Care Transfer Hubs to, uh, facilitate the transfer of care (see, solved?!)?
Or maybe it was the obligatory focus-group generated buzzword to give us laggards something to aspire to – in this case, ‘Frontrunners’, who will Show Us How It’s Done (ha, remember ‘Beacon Practices’, which only became so because we torched them all).
No. And it wasn’t even the almost complete absence of the mention of GPs, even though we know that’s where the Urgent and Emergency Care Fallout lands.
It was this: the realisation of how these documents are written. I can demonstrate, in very basic form, below.
Improving words Concepts Meaningless words Number Medical things Increase Capacity Online 5,000 Beds Grow Workforce Flexible 3,000 Hospitals Speed up Plan Efficient 800 Clinicians Expand Ambition Virtual 111 Ambulances Reform Partnerships Step up/down 50,000 Mental
These are all words that genuinely appeared in the document. To generate, say, a three point plan to rescue urgent services, all you need to do is randomly combine words from each column, sprinkled with a few conjunctions etc.
Thus, I, Dr Tony Copperfield, resolve to:
- Grow our capacity online to 800 hospitals
- Speed up our ambition for 50,000 virtual clinicians
- Expand our workforce to 111 mental step-ups
…and so on.
And that, basically, is how the AI chatbot ChatGPT generates text, right? Which explains everything. NHSE has for some time simply been using ChatGPT to churn out these superficially plausible yet consistently stupefying documents.
Nor will they stop there. By embracing this technology, they must have realised that advances in AI offer a way out of the workforce crisis by replacing real GPs with a virtual one: your consultation with a ChatGPTGP is just a mouse click away.
After all, we now know that ChatGPT is indistinguishable from the real thing. Indeed, did I even write this blog?
Dr Copperfield is a GP in Essex. Read more of his blogs here