.... beautiful friend."
It's dark. Insects chirrup in the underbrush. Muffled explosions, miles off, punctuate their fretful murmurings. The night belongs to Charley.
Somewhere a jangling guitar picks out a sparse twanging tune, a handful of notes at a time. Drum and organ whisper underneath a plaintive vocal that speaks of loss, despair and dark dark urges.
Yes, beautiful friends, we are in a far from happy place, and the sense of foreboding if anything is building out here in the boonies. And I know I'm flogging the metaphor to death here, but I can't help it. Somehow Jim just speaks to me right now.
Anyhow, now that I've got your attention, I'm not really talking about a war a generation ago and half a planet away. I'm bemoaning my plight here in Ambridge as usual.
Permit me to explain.
Exhibit A; A policy statement from a health minister, repeated I believe at party conference that patients will be free to register with a GP anywhere they damn well please and bu**er the geography. Now much as I would welcome the chance to care for patients of all origins and ethnicities, registering patients domiciled on Orkney would seem a bit stupid. Yes I know busy commuters and politicians have a hard time of it prioritizing their health above their oh so important trough snouting... er, working activities, but freedom to register anywhere, I mean really have they no common sense? Anyone who has any experience of front line primary care will tell you this notion is a junkies charter. Any addict has just been told he/she is free to roam the country at will registering here, there and everywhere, and demanding that all important codeine / methadone / valium script. Even if they only manage a week's worth everywhere they register, in just one day on an average inner city bus route, they should be able to score enough gear for a month of Sundays. Bloody brilliant. Sorted! (Or so I believe the vernacular has it).
Exhibit B; Choose and Book. An IT based appointment booking system that will allow a patient to book their own appointment with a specialist they choose at a time and in a hospital of their choice. Sounds fantastic. And when it works, is fantastic. When it works. But how do you know which specialist to choose. Or which hospital to go to. If only there was somebody you could ask...
Exhibit C; Two Week Wait. Patients suspected of having a cancer diagnosis should have to wait no more than two weeks to see a specialist. Quite right too. And again, to be fair, when it works it works well. But witness a call I had today. Two days ago I made such a referral, on the same day I saw the patient concerned. Today the "Two Week Wait" clerk is on the phone declining to accept my referral. They've offered the patient an appointment but she's going to be away for a week starting 13 days from now and won't be able to take it, so please would I not refer her until she's back, in three weeks time. Only the cancer czar has told them they've got to book the appointment within 14 days and they can't..... "Now just supposing I do this, and then in three weeks when I am permitted to re-refer, you still can't give her a slot inside 14 days, what would happen?" I ask politely. "Well then we'd have to refuse your referral again." So no, sorry I'm not taking my referral back, it needs sorting.
Believe it or not there are plenty more exhibits. And that's before Gordon, or Dave, or even (should pigs take wing) Nick start wielding the axe we all know is coming.
If I'm sounding a tad cynical today I apologize, but that last little circus act has really got to me and reading the runes things are looking pretty bleak.
Still, maybe they'll look better after a cup of tea eh?
What do you think?