Published: 15/08/2002, Volume III, No. 5818 Page
Lovely Rita, meter maid, nothing can come between us. When it gets dark I tow your heart away .'
Yes, Monitor's spirits are lifted by the jaunty Beatles tune celebrating a particularly captivating traffic warden. 'Standing by a parking meter, when I caught a glimpse of Rita, filling in a ticket in her little white book . . .' You see, back in the 1960s - which Monitor doesn't really remember - even popular beat combos grasped that there is nothing intrinsically negative or unattractive about slapping a massive fine on someone. Oh, no. A parking ticket is merely an incentivising device, often implemented by really quite charming people. This is the sort of up-beat attitude Monitor urges on NHS managers whose delicate job it will be to obtain from skint social services departments the paltry sum of£100 a day (or£120 in London, where parking is more expensive) - the 'fine' for bed-blocking. Just as Beatle Paul was entranced by Lovely Rita, so too will social services and local hospitals be drawn together in a warm and tender way by the government's new scheme, Monitor is certain.
But Monitor would be irresponsible if he didn't warn that poorly worded decant-a-gran plans can cause a spot of bother. Poor Ian Rogerson, chief exec at Newcastle-under-Lyme primary care trust, was forced to rebut a Stoke Sentinel story about 'plans to use the police to boot frail, elderly people out of hospital beds'. The discharge policy used by six Staffs trusts, which said 'the police will be available if necessary', sent the Sentinel into paroxysms over the 'eviction' threat. Mr R clarified: 'It has never been, nor will it ever be, the trusts' intention to involve police in the patientdischarge process.' The reference - now excised - was only meant for cases of violence against staff. Monitor suggests using only fluffy, cuddly words in discharge policies - you can always send Robocop round to slow-to-pay social services departments.
Now, happy news for Addenbrooke's trust and its new chair, Dr Mary Archer (pictured above, right). Monitor was thrilled by a press release announcing Dr Archer's ascent to the£20,420 a year non-exec role and offering a recap of all her achievements. Dr Archer, formerly Addenbrooke's vice-chair, has a distinguished list of academic posts to her name, and her special interests - research and development, value for money etc - are also listed. And, we are informed: 'Dr Mary Archer is married, has two grown-up children and lives in Granchester.' Monitor is sure that having a husband and children has no bearing whatsoever on anyone's ability to chair a trust, and assumes this is just an item of personal chit-chat thrown in for added interest. In that spirit, Monitor would like to say a big 'hello' to Dr Archer's husband, Jeffrey, who is unfortunately away at the moment.
Sadly, the noble lord will be detained a little longer as his appeal court bid to challenge his conviction for perjury and perverting the course of justice failed last month. But Monitor is sure that famously fragrant Mary's husband and children - including James, the one expelled from the Financial Services Authority register after a City share-dealing scandal last year - will be glad to share in her achievement.
Finally, it seems star-ratings are more inspiring than Monitor had thought. How else to explain the artistic outpourings of MJ from Essex, who sent in the lovely poem below? While it bears a slight resemblance to an advertisement in which actor Samuel L Jackson goes to the bank, Monitor feels it adds a note of pathos that is nigh-on Shakespearean.
Unavoidably detained: It is porridge rather than freshly brewed coffee for Lady Archer's husband.