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Previews of the year: All hail our sentient coronavirus virion leader

There’s a sense of deja-vu as I sit down to write my annual predictions for the year ahead. Just like last year, there’s an alarming new variant rampaging the planet, GPs are struggling to simultaneously satisfy the twin demands of QOF and booster delivery, and my few seconds of free time are split between fantasising about having a proper holiday next summer and worrying about said proper holiday’s inevitable last-minute cancellation.

But some things are different. Whereas in 2020, GPs were cringing indoors from mortification over the weekly clapping, this year they’ve been hiding from pitchfork-wielding mobs of angry Daily Mail readers demanding to know why we’ve done absolutely nothing since last January. It’s a good question – why can’t we be more hardworking, like, say, whoever it was who delivered the national vaccine programme? 

So my first prediction for 2022 is that the recruitment crisis is set to continue. Junior doctors will look at the negative headlines and vote with their feet. Consequently, desperate deaneries will offer increasingly lucrative ‘golden hellos’ in an attempt to source fresh meat for the grinder. New GPs will soon be paid so much they’ll then be contractually obliged to declare their earnings online, and find themselves immediately monstered in the tabloids as a result. Morale will nosedive, and GP numbers will follow. Eventually we’ll be left with one single remaining GP, claiming the entire national primary care budget in salary, and instantly paying back double in pension tax. 

My other prediction is inspired by the ongoing rehabilitation of Health Select Committee chair Jeremy Hunt, who after a record tenure as health secretary during which the GP headcount plummeted, has reinvented himself as a no-nonsense interrogator of… *checks notes*… health secretaries who can’t recruit enough GPs. To be honest, I’ve seen better redemption arcs – Jaime Lannister had his hand cut off and then fought a bear, while Mr Prezbo quit the force and dedicated his life to teaching underprivileged children. Mr Hunt’s absolution consists of being spoonerised a gazillion times, then turning out to be marginally less crap in retrospect than the guys who took over from him.

Up the rectoscope
I can only conclude that there exists a secret gentleman’s agreement, whereby each new health secretary pledges to polish the reputation of his or her predecessor by being worse than them, like the world’s most depressing set of Russian dolls. It’s the same Fibonacci spiral of escalating incompetence that enables unmemorable former Prime Ministers John Major and Gordon Brown to pitch up on telly these days fronting like they’re Obi-Wan and Yoda, when compared with the chortling Jabba now holding court in Number 10.

But this begs the question – how steep will the slippery slope of depreciating health secretaries get? Perhaps later this year they’ll appoint poo-poking covidiot Gillian McKeith? The ghost of Enoch Powell? A plague rat with a very questionable Twitter history? A used condom filled with eugenicist scorpions? 

In the not-so-distant future, I anticipate the unseemly spectacle of Matt Hancock back from the political dead and chairing the health committee, displaying a lipstick-smeared collar and a badge that says ‘My mates got mysteriously minted procuring polythene pinnies’, demanding that the latest health secretary, a sentient coronavirus virion rolled in pubes, explain why the nation’s sole remaining GP has failed to apologise sufficiently for expecting to be paid to work.

I just hope that GP isn’t me. 

Dr Pete Deveson is a GP in Surrey


Vinci Ho 5 January, 2022 2:03 pm

I will instead predict :
(1) Agent Hunt , as the usurper, will become the next Prime Minister . Local Elections in May will have some interesting ramifications, presumably.
(2) The current Education Secretary will become the next Health Secretary.
(3) And Roboc**k is yet to sort out where his genitalia should belong to 😈

Patrufini Duffy 7 January, 2022 6:11 pm

Every “leader” is leeching every pennie they can while they can. Whether it be minister, best mate or NHS chief or vice-chair somewhat or another on some board of some sort or blah. Let’s just be clear on that. RCGP-accredited course is due on: How to fleece it and Wing-it in a patient-centered nontransparent hypocritical way with party dresses and blue suits via Zoom. FRCGPs and Professors and British Empire leaders permitted only.