Following the purchase of the heart hospital by University College London Hospitals trust, have you any views on this type of nationalisation ?
do not you ever let me see that word in print again! Nationalisation indeed! Why, anybody would think we'd gone back to the bad old days.
No, this piece of entrepreneurial innovation by UCLH is exactly the sort of thing the prime minister means when he talks about using the best of the private sector. Perhaps it is now clear to the doubters how PFI and PPP really work. First you let a private hospital developer build and equip a small hospital (the NHS has forgotten how to do this), they run it for a few years, then go bust, and the NHS pays a knock-down price - usually around the£150m mark - to snap it up. Mind you, there is a downside: the staff which you normally acquire at the same time will have to get used to working much har...er...more efficiently.
After all, the only reason they're in the private sector is to have a quiet life and get the opportunity to wear nice uniforms and frilly caps. This approach also works for the railways, as it turns out. Indeed, you can kill two birds with one stone if you reduce rail accidents and therefore cut NHS expense in treating the casualties you can have more money for waiting lists. Oh alright, three birds.
What do you make of the new star-ratings system? Is it better than traffic lights?
Traffic lights are definitely passé . I never liked them, and nor did Mr Milburn. Secretly, I think he was bullied into it. The big advantage of the star system is that It is new and will therefore work better than traffic lights. It is also much more variable, so you can pick and choose which measures you want to include from month to month so as to keep in tune with public opinion. You can also add new measures whenever you like. It is a bit like boxing with the Marquess of Queensbury - you can make the rules up as you go along. A much better way of organising public accountability, if you ask me.