Published: 19/09/2002, Volume II2, No. 5823 Page

Brothers and sisters! Monitor sends his fraternal greetings. TUC week is behind us and the massed ranks of the unions have departed the sunny shores of Blackpool. But what of a union that did not decamp to the delights of the Golden Mile, illuminations or Coronation Street caff? For the British Medical Association, unaffiliated to the TUC, has a silver-service dining room in its charming Tavistock Square HQ. That doesn't stop the good docs from getting tough of course, and they have been known to do rather well for themselves - just ask a passing nurse or porter about the consultants' contract.

But Monitor hears word of trouble at t'mill. It seems the docs are gearing up for a crackdown, not on the government but on their staff. The pay rises - though not the salaries - of the BMA's several hundred staff are pegged to the doctors' and dentists' pay awards. But this year, rumour has it, the BMA is seeking to break the link amid whispers about 'greater flexibility' and possibly even performancerelated pay. No doubt if such threats came from their own employers, the stethoscoped ones would soon show the bosses what's what. Somehow the phrase 'physician, heal thyself ' springs to mind.

And now, royalty. Monitor had heard of the czar of all the Russians, but is alarmed to find that there seems to be a rush on of all the czars recently, with the appointment of IT czar Richard Granger followed almost instantly by that of emergency access czar George Alberti. Monitor hopes this will not mean having to address George as 'Czar Professor Sir' in future. But why all these czars? Is it part of a new czar-rating system? Does Richmond House not realise that the Russians, erm, disposed of their czar some time ago as his rather repressive regime was not felt to be very patient-centred? When pressed, Whitehall's finest tend to distance themselves from the czar moniker, referring only to the 'national director' for emergency access, older people's services or whatever. Monitor looks forward to a forthcoming Government Guide to European History, featuring national director Nicholas II and his special adviser Rasputin. At least There is no confusion over the job descriptions of special advisers.

Finally, a competition: what links Prince Charles, mis-shapen pink and yellow chart-topping musician Mr Blobby and the editor of HSJ? Monitor will print the best suggestions and reveal all in a fortnight. Send your entries to the email address below.