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A bat out of hell

The Government's new plans for commissioning drive Copperfield to find solace in the arms of Meatloaf

There I was, trying to plough my way through the White Paper in the wee small hours, when Meatloaf – a man who badly looks like he needs some health commissioned - started his guttural roar through my radio. I'm not a great fan of sweaty pomp rock, but I have to say that ‘Bat out of hell' was an apt song. Because a lot of what I was reading was batty and hellish.

I'll steer clear of the obvious comments about the budget we're supposed to inherit being, in the context of a global recession, a noose with which to hang ourselves, and about most GPs wanting to ‘commission' as much as they do rub glass in their eyes.

Instead, I'll focus on two points which are possibly being overlooked in the general post-paper brouhaha.

First, the government is doing a lot of chest-thumping about committing bureaucricide. You and I might thought they were just saving money and dumping the work and responsibility on us, but no – in fact, they're cutting a load of red tape so that we GPs have freedom and power. Thanks for that, guys.

The problem is, everyone is so shellshocked by the new plans that they're forgetting PCTs and SHA weren't the only source of bonkers bureaucracy.

True, they were overstuffed with besuited and pointless bean counters.

But much of the deranged, enraging and time consuming nonsense – think Choose and Book or balanced scorecards for example – came directly from the Department of Health. So it's governments who are the chief bullshit generators, with the PCTs simply suffering the usual fate of the messenger.

And what I've seen in the White Paper has my bullshit detector on overdrive: compulsory commissioning, outcome measures, more choice for patients….This isn't a cure for bureaucracy, it's just the first stirrings of a new epidemic.

Second: OOH. Oh, forgotten about that, had you? Oddly, it gets barely a mention in the White Paper. Maybe all the rest is just a smoke screen so the politicians get this one through the back door. After all, with no PCTs, who's going to be left to commission OOH?

Back to Mr Loaf. ‘I would do anything for love, but I won't do that,' he sang on one of his hits, though no one knew what the great rock elephant was going on about.

I'd echo this, though. ‘I would do anything for the job I love, but I won't do that.' And that is OOH.

'Sick Notes' by Dr Tony Copperfield is out now, available from Monday Books.

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