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So what struck you most about our esteemed editor’s recent interview with the health secretary? Was it a ball of his irrepressible energy, perhaps launched by the cricket bat he keeps in his office? Or was it his puppy-like enthusiasm for the tasks ahead, which presumably explains the urine-soaked DoH carpets every time GP at Hand signs up a patient.
I know what struck Matt Hancock, though, when he first arrived in office, because he shared it with us: ‘In a hospital setting there are two nurses for every doctor. But in primary care there are two doctors for every nurse.’ Yeah, and in Westminster there is one brain for every two politicians.
This insight into the way the NHS is run is already in the frame for Most Fatuous Statement of the Year, and would be forgivable only if it had been barked out by an actual puppy.
Something else hit me, too. It was this sentence: ‘The target of 5,000 more GPs than the 2015 figure exists and we’re going to meet it. Clearly the timing will be slower than originally envisaged before my time….The workforce plan is on the basis of five years.’
No matter how many times you read this, and believe me, I’m on my 97th attempt, you can only conclude that these are sentences that have had all sense eviscerated before being stuffed with bullshit. So Mr Hancock is a syntaxidermist, though I do like his ‘before my time’ comment, because what he’s implying there is, look, whatever it is I’m trying to say, it’s nothing to do with me.
OK, so he’s just started, he has his own happy-clappy vision and we should give him a chance. But I really think that two essentials in a health secretary are an understanding of how the health service works and an ability to articulate a plan.
On this evidence, I’m already tempted to hurl his precious cricket bat away in frustration. He’d fetch it back, though.
Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex