It’s hoped that a 16th-century-style witch-hunt will boost morale in the NHS.
A spokesman for the department of health says: ‘It’s vitally important that GPs never miss a diagnosis, even when the diagnosis is really really tricky to make. We played around with a few ideas and we’ve sketched out a future in which guilty GPs are forced to parade down the high street, waving a red flag with “I’m a crap doctor” written on it.’
The DH’s decree has the flavour of medieval justice.
So we made our way to the grand gothic vault of the Elvira Council, now based in Croydon and spoke to Abe, a self-proclaimed witch-hunter.
‘When you think about it,’ says Abe, ‘doctors are just like witches. They heal people, they’ve got X-ray eyes and they don’t need any sleep, which is a bit weird. I used to share a flat with a GP and every night, if she wasn’t making a vegetable curry, she communed with Satan and her eyeballs fell out.
‘I think the time’s now come for the government to get tough with these witch-doctors and deal out some old school justice. But what ministers have to realise is that it’s not all about waving pitch forks and burning stuff, those days are sadly gone. It’s much more subtle than that now.
‘And besides, it’s really easy to make a mistake. Only last week I accidentally burnt a woman to death because she owned an owl.’
The idea has been met with opposition from GP front liners: ‘This is a return to the days of fruit-throwing, pond-dunking, crowd-jeering and red hot irons. It’s a bit like the Spanish Inquisition, which, if we’re honest, was far too inquisitive.’
Only time will tell if ritually naming and shaming GPs will help retain staff, boost morale and combat the recruitment crisis in primary care.
Dr Kevin Hinkley is a GP in Aberdeen.