Wednesday, May 02, 2007

May Day

Ok so it's a day late for reasons way to complex to explain, but it's been simmering for a while so here goes....

May Day

Labour Day. Tanks rolling through Red Square in a show of might only the most organized form of labour can deliver...

...or May Day. Mrs Snell fretting as the Loxley Barrat infants tie one another totemlike to the Ambridge maypole with pretty coloured ribbons....

...or then again M'aidez the desperate gallic imperative that signals distress to the whole world, in the desperate hope that someone, anyone, might be listening and disposed to lend a hand....

It would be all too easy to take this post as an irrelevant whinge redolent of both self importance and self pity. I only hope you will all take my word for it that such was not my intent. After all we've known one another long enough for you all to know that's not my style.

In general I would far rather laugh off the stresses of the day, lurch with all the grace of an inebriate if stately W.C.Fields from one crisis to the next and keep on gigging. Indeed after this post I intend to return to doing just that, but not today.

So, why the long face I hear you ask in your best bartender voice. Well I'll tell you.

It all started on Friday. I was at a weekend conference of GPs and other interested parties. You know the sort of thing; a short talk before a long dinner day one, full on lectures breakfast to teatime day two, lots of small group work within the sessions, lots of networking between, and, trust me on this, nobody can set the world to rights like a gathering of gps. You see, we all know we're right about everything, all the time, and even when we are patently wrong. It's one of our most endearing traits. If you don't believe me, ask the wife.

So all in all these affairs tend to be pretty jolly, where all the afflictions that assail the human frame are sqaurely batted into touch by mid morning and we are just gearing up to take on the eternal verities over the lunchtime Pinot Grigio.

Except that for some reason this time the old GP magic just wasn't working. It turned out that we weren't even on steady ground with the afflictions bit anymore, hemmed in as we were by unprecedented levels of administrative interference in our working lives. Where before we had mostly felt free to examine the evidence for or against given remedies and interventions before offering them up for the adulation of the grateful masses, we were suddenly waking up to find the administrators had parked their tanks on our lawns and hemmed us in with Nice Guidelines, backed by the financial muscle of our immediate paymasters in the PCTs who keep muttering archly about with-holding funding from us if we don't prescribe in exactly the approved* manner.

Out on the village geen the strident Mrs Hewitt has managed to strap all the fledgling doctors of tomorrow to the MTAS maypole in miles of red ribbon and by the time she has funished untying them it will be a minor miracle if at least half of them haven't fled to Canada, Australia or New Zealand just to get away from her and her barmy schemes for their career development. Ironic when you think she's an ocker sheila herself....

All in all most of us are left with the impression that the NHS we all trained to serve, and had each commited decades of our working lives to, exists no longer, save as a convenient 'Golden Arch' style logo to be appended to all the little franchises that are setting up in business to replace it. The old public service ethos has finally given up the ghost. Our clinical independence has been frittered away on a 'pocket full of mumbles' in the form of our increasingly tarnished new contract.

And if you think all that sounds gloomy, I have to tell you I was one of the more optimistic members of our gathering.

M'aidez indeed.

* O.K. hands up who thought I was going to say "prescribed" again, eh?


Nostrumdammit said...

Given the state of affairs in the capital and the country, one can safely assume that the only way is up!

Perhaps a glass of port is in order. I always find that a comfortable armchair and a stiff port followed by a snooze can work wonders. You see - nothing can be changed by worrying, but it is entirely possible to sleep through the seismic shifts that need to occur before any major change takes place.

The die is cast and we must wait and see how it lands.

Personally I sense some come-uppances are just below the horizon and will dawn quite soon.

Doctor Jest said...

nostrum... Good call on the port and comfy chair, definitely a splendid remedy for all the ills of mankind (with the possible exception of The Gout). As for the "come-uppances" they're all very well, and FWIW I'm sure Dante would have a special circle of hell invented just for weasely Health Ministers and their equally crooked book cookers in the DoH. Trouble is, they wont stop the next incumbent from buggering about with the smoking ruins of the NHS dear Patsy and her ilk will have left behind.