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In a spin over the junior doctors’ strike


GPs are asked to staff hospitals while tabloids bemoan ‘Moët medics’ – it has been quite a lively month for Sick Notes

PRACTICES ACROSS THE COUNTRY are used to the phrase ‘GP to sort’, but you have to wonder what was going through the minds of local commissioners when they asked practices if they could spare a GP the day before the junior doctors’ strike on 12 January. NHS North Somerset CCG sent a message to member practices the afternoon before the strike with a plea to cover the medical assessment unit at Weston General Hospital in Weston- super-Mare. The response was less than enthusiastic. In fact, when asked by Pulse, a CCG spokesperson said baldly: ‘As far as I am aware there was no take-up.’ But, quite honestly, what did they

expect? A rush of can-do GPs dumping their morning surgeries for a clinic full of the worried well? GP locums saying ‘well, I had absolutely nothing as important as this on tomorrow’ and pitching up in pristine white coats. Really? Don’t they get that practices will be under more pressure too? And what about solidarity for medical professionals taking action against a Government intent on watering down their terms and conditions? Junior doctors were still required to provide emergency care, and the coverage on the day was around about the same as for the Royal Wedding a few years ago. There had been ample notice that this was going to happen, and the CCG asks the afternoon before? There are so many things wrong with this that it is hard to know where to start. The person who thought this was a good idea should be banned from running any kind of health service. It’s only the start of the column yet Sick Notes needs a lie down and a stiff bourbon.

SPEAKING OF THE JUNIOR DOCTORS’ STRIKE, a cynic may say that some national newspapers read like a rabid, vigilante branch of the Department of Health in the run-up to the days of action. The Telegraph rooted out the ‘reds’ on BMA Council, pointing out two members of the Labour party, another member who has written strong words in support of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and (this is shocking) the fact that chair Dr Mark Porter reads the Guardian. With all this revolutionary Marxist thought swilling around Tavistock Square it is a wonder that any of them get any work done.

30 February 2016 Pulse

The Sun – not known for its rigorous journalism – also joined in with a badly researched piece on ‘champagne- swilling’ junior doctors. The piece revealed ‘Moët medics’ enjoying ‘lavish holidays and parties’, with pictures of junior doctors having helicopter rides and cavorting with elephants. But the piece backfired spectacularly

when the online magazine BuzzFeed discovered the helicopter ride was actually a gift to thank the junior doctor concerned for babysitting his mentor’s children. The doctor photographed with the elephant was volunteering in a Nepal hospital at the time. Nice one, Rupert.

AFTER BEING TOLD by NHS bosses they can make more efficiency savings, GPs will be glad to hear that the health secretary Jeremy Hunt also takes his own personal expenses very seriously. According to the Mirror newspaper, the millionaire has reportedly claimed back 5p for a paperclip, 8p for a page marker and 41p for a black folder among his recent expenses for running his office. It all speaks of an assiduous mind that does not miss the tiniest of details and Sick Notes hopes Mr Hunt puts an equal amount of forensic accounting into the question of how to plug the widening gaps in health service finances. Every little helps, you see.

PROFESSOR STEVE FIELD MAY BE ‘ASHAMED’ of some practices, but he is perhaps too proud of his own.

In recent evidence to the House of Creature consultations

Commons Health Committee, the chief inspector of general practice suggested to MPs that ‘super-practices’ are already monitoring quality and therefore could be trusted to have inspections done ‘less frequently’. Professor Field gave the Lakeside

super-practice in Corby, Northamptonshire, and the Modality Partnership in Birmingham as examples of super-practices that could take on self-assessment. A fair enough point, perhaps, but he

forgot to say at the time that he is a partner at the Modality Partnership. Cui bono?

IT MUST BE HARD TO distil public health messages on Twitter with the right amount of gravitas, let alone when it involves the death of someone loved by millions.

But NHS England tried its best on the

day it was announced that music legend David Bowie had passed away from cancer.


‘Sad news about David Bowie who’s died of cancer,’ the tweet said glumly, then obliquely referencing one of his most famous song lyrics: ‘Be aware of any unexplained ch-ch-ch-ch-changes to your body.’ (Okay, Sick Notes added the chs.)

A shadow warns junior doctors against striking khole

PR FAIL OF THE WEEK. The press release that landed with the subject line: ‘Botty Burps after eating?’ Is this the best a whole room full of spin doctors could come up with?

‘Doctor, I need a letter for housing cos

the nits are about to hatch, a letter for court, another cert, a referral to the gym...’

‘You wrote “parasite”, didn’t you?’


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