Just before the election the Kings Fund claimed that the government had been misleading the electorate in its claim to have saved £1bn in bureaucracy by getting rid of GP fundholding. Is this true?
Bean Counter (by email)
Is what true? That the government misled the electorate or that it saved£1bn? In the first case this obviously can't be true: it has been re-elected, hasn't it? People must believe what it says. That is got that out of the way. As far as the£1bn is concerned, It is obviously not true: It is an under-estimate. Anyone can work that out. Say there were. . . ooh. . . 500 GP fundholding practices each spending say£3m each. . .
well That is£1. 5bn a year before you start! All saved because we got rid of fundholding.
Add to this the enormous savings through not having many nurses and you have a tidy sum.
However, we now have to build on this firm foundation and create a service of which our children's children's children can be proud, by investing wisely. So long as we do it with financial discipline, as my mate Prudence used to say.
What were the highlights of the election campaign for you ?
I can't remember a campaign so chock full of ideas and excitement! First, the dramatic way Michael Portillo faded away after the first couple of days. I wonder why?
Then there was Ffion. . . so bubbly and full of charming anecdotes. Mind you her husband. . . that William Hickey. . . didn't have much to say for himself. I couldn't understand his accent, to be honest. But the high point was the way Tony Blair played the crowds, especially his famous pantomime speech - the one where he pretends to have got everything wrong and the crowd roars back, 'Oh no you didn't', and he says, 'Oh yes, well you know, we almost did'. Perfect.
However, I thought it was in poor taste to drag out senile patients for photo opportunities - Mrs Thatcher clearly showing that ECT doesn't work.
But the best bit was Ann Widdecombe being locked out of a police station. The wrong side of the cell door if you ask me.