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All part of the ‘winter’ plan

Dr Pete Deveson BLOG duo_3x2

It’s been an interesting start to the year. The CQC have taken the unprecedented step of abolishing inspections for the month of January, and in harrowing scenes repeated up and down the country, chaperone training certificates have sat unviewed, curtain dust levels have gone unmonitored, and thousands of practice laminating machines have lapsed into eerie silence.

In a terrifying glimpse of the hellish dystopia we’d be enduring if the CQC didn’t exist, GPs have been forced to crack on with healing the sick without the constant background worry that some tedious nomark with a clipboard is going to turn up and quiz them about their practice’s medium-term governance strategy. I urge readers not to contemplate what chaos might occur should the inspectorate decided to extend their sabbatical – it just doesn’t bear thinking about.

Meanwhile, our hospital colleagues are struggling with a hitherto unseen and entirely unpredictable phenomenon experts are calling ‘winter’. The government have apparently planned for this, but it is with regret I must inform you that NHS England’s strategy of getting managers to chant ‘We can do this!’ in unison appears to have failed. Turns out you can’t stave off the inexorable advance of winter by shouting at it like a bunch of Cnuts.

The latest wheeze is to send in an unpaid army of medical students, presumably because a thirteen-hour trolley wait provides the optimum timeframe for a medical student clerking. Don’t get me wrong – I love medical students; look at them, all earnest, sitting in my room and by their very presence reminding me of the days of my lost youth when I had to contain my flatus for intervals longer than ten minutes.

The latest wheeze is to send in an unpaid army of medical students, presumably because a thirteen-hour trolley wait provides the optimum timeframe for a medical student clerking

But what are they gonna do? Club together and open a nursing home in the hospital car park? Pull a Flatliners on Theresa May and have Billy Mahoney persuade her to reverse the bajillions in social care cuts that led to this mess in the first place? I’m not holding my breath.

As a consequence of the winter crisis, and dashing both my last blog’s confident reshuffle prediction and the massed hopes and prayers of the entire NHS workforce that he might somehow be dislodged, Jeremy Hunt remains firmly impacted at the Department of Health.

With the NHS currently resembling a soiled hospital trolley, not even a smoothie of his undoubted talents could walk away right now without smelling bad. The optics, as they say in the Westminster bubble, are all wrong.

So expect more photo-ops of Mr Hunt looking purposeful in a tabard as he figures out whether changing the metaphorical sheets or climbing straight back in to befoul them some more will best suit his prime ministerial ambitions. Where’s an inspector when you need one?

Dr Pete Deveson is a GP in Surrey