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Hunt left red faced in Virgin loo incident

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The health secretary had a busy time at the Conservative party conference in Manchester last month. He had to be escorted into the venue by police, managed to land on the front pages by telling us all to work like the Chinese and predicted that GPs will be replaced by computers in 10 years’ time.

But Sick Notes’ favourite story is much more puerile. According to the Mirror newspaper, startled travellers to the Tory conference on Sunday were told by their train driver that someone had ‘pulled the emergency cord in the loo’.

A red-faced Mr Hunt was spotted emerging from the toilet saying he had pulled the cord by mistake. A fellow passenger was said to remark: ‘It’s a good job he didn’t actually need a doctor. I’m not sure anyone would have volunteered.’

Don’t worry, Jeremy, it could happen to anyone. Even someone who allegedly runs the NHS. Snigger.


Speaking of the Tory conference, a Pulse reporter was on hand at an RCGP fringe event where chair Dr Maureen Baker asked for a bit more love for general practice. Health minister Alistair Burt said that he could certainly provide that (tension klaxon). He went on to say that if he could do anything in the NHS one of the top things would be: ‘To stop getting letters telling me I’m going to privatise the health service.’ Dream big, Al.


While the BMA contemplates its navel, Sick Notes has been following events over the Channel with interest as French GPs take industrial action. France’s biggest doctors’ union, MG France, has called on members to shut their surgeries for two days and has held a ‘go-slow’ convoy in Paris involving 200 GPs, according to the website The Connexion.

Why are they so angry, you ask? They are protesting against plans to scrap upfront charges for consultations by 2017, with doctors reimbursed by the health insurance scheme instead. So much for the British disease – vive la révolution.


Now this is newsworthy. Not a day passes without some poor overworked GP declaring on the PulseToday website that they are packing for Australia, but one GP who has been in Oz for 10 years has shattered the illusions of many a potential expat.

Replying to a Pulse reader extolling the benefits of Australia, the disillusioned GP said: ‘It is poorly paid and the patients have extremely high entitlement and GANFYD mentality. International medical graduates are openly held in contempt. Aussie gov [sic] and political meddling is stupider than the NHS.’

Sick Notes can see the Pulse headline now: ‘EXPAT GP REVEALS AUSTRALIA IS “NOT THAT GREAT”’. Cue some silent sobbing from burnt-out GPs in Penge clutching their CGSs. Sad day.


Sick Notes was saddened to see the news that NHS England director for patients and information Tim Kelsey has decided to quit his job and return to the private sector in Australia. He said that he has left to develop ‘next-generation digital services for patients and professionals’, which is weirdly what we thought he was meant to be doing at NHS England.

But Sick Notes wishes him well. Let’s not mention that Pulse has been requesting an interview with the man himself for about two years now – but then he probably never forgave the magazine for its role in exposing the scheme as the underhand data-grab from patient records that it still is. Still, no hard feelings, Mr Kelsey. Pulse’s door is always open.


PR fail of the month. NHS bosses have used a picture of Sean Bean, dressed in his Game of Thrones finery, to build interest in their plan for the national ‘Stay Well This Winter’ campaign designed to help the vulnerable over the colder months. Accompanied by the caption: ‘Brace yourself, winter is coming’, they rather overlooked that Mr Bean’s character Ned Stark was brutally executed, precipitating the War of the Five Kings. Maybe not the wisest choice.


Pulse blogger Dr Samir Dawlatly has shown a hidden talent for songwriting that Sick Notes is determined to highlight.

Set to the music of Lou Reed’s Perfect Day, his song DNA graphically describes the pain of being stood up by a patient. ‘Oh, it’s just a DNA, I’m sad I waited for you. Another DNA, you just keep me hanging on. You just keep me hanging on,’ he warbles movingly in a YouTube video that has been playing on repeat in the Pulse office.

Fittingly it all ends on a bittersweet note. ‘You help me keep to time (keep, keep, keep) you know…’

A career as the next GP equivalent of Gary Barlow beckons.