Published: 18/04/2002, Volume II2, No. 5801 Page 113

Whatever happened to that Frank Dobson and Ken Livingstone who we heard so much about a while ago ?

Gordon, Westminster

Well, Mr Dobson turned out to be a very good mayoral candidate, but unfortunately he wasn't so good at being a mayor. I expect Mr Blair gave him a nice job afterwards and I believe he is now in charge of the House of Commons humour library. That horrible Mr Livingstone, however, has got himself a nice little number and no mistake. He now spends his time attending St Patrick's Day events all over the world and getting his name put up everywhere in London saying things like, 'New buses from the mayor of London... personally driven by your mate Ken.' Anyway, my inside sources tell me that if he looks like he's going to win again, he might be allowed back into the party and might even become Mr Milburn's successor when the blessed Alan moves into Number 10 (that'll be after Gordon but before Diane Abbott). Not that Mr Blair's done with yet. But the old fella looks like he needs a bit of a rest (all those night-time feeds, I suppose... how old is Leo now ? ) I've seen lots of comment in the press about how much the NHS spends but without any noticeable impact on waiting lists etc.

Where has all the money gone ?

Beancounter, Doncaster

Where indeed! What is obviously true is that this government has put zillions of new pounds into the NHS and all it gets is aggro. This is most unfair of the public and people like nurses and doctors. It is probably because inefficient NHS managers spend a fortune on advertising for recruits and producing glossy reports on modernisation, without getting on and doing it.

Why bother trying to recruit people when we have the internet? The new way is for patients to ring up the internet, find out what's wrong with them, buy their drugs from the US themselves and then, if necessary, do their own ops on the kitchen table while keeping the screen in sight. It is the insistence of the entrenched old fuddy duddies like the British Medical Association and the royal colleges that doctors have to be involved that costs so much money. That is where it goes, paying for treatment. Free the patient, I say.

Why not let Mel help solve your problem?

E-mail her, in the strictest confidence, at: Mdestrange@ healthcare. emap. co. uk