Published: 03/10/2002 Volume II2, No.5825 Page
Oh dear, oh dear. Monitor has not been so worried about healthcare inspection since Peter Homa shaved his beard off in a sudden fit of modernisation. Now what is going on between Dr Homa's Commission for Health Improvement and his erstwhile partners at the Audit Commission?
Monitor is picking up an alarming difference of opinion concerning the new 'super-CHI' - the Commission for Healthcare Audit and Inspection announced after the Budget. Monitor has noted before that the new body has a remarkably similar sounding name to CHI itself. Indeed, the denizens of CHI's Moorgate HQ have been known to say 'new-CHAI' - to rhyme with 'hi' - in a somewhat proprietorial way. Not so in Audit-land, however. The auditors have been losing ground, with bits of remit being sliced off all over the place, and are in danger of becoming has-been counters. But the Audit Commission has its standards, oh yes. And to show how independent they are, audit-types have adopted a quite different pronunciation, rhyming CHAI with 'hey'. Monitor remembers that song, 'You say tom-ay-to and I say tom-ah-to. . .' and is getting a bit worried. Surely it will not be, 'You say Ch-ey and I say Ch-i, let's call the whole thing off.'
Of course there is another possibility. Readers may recall a suggestion that CHAI, whose remit will cover private healthcare as well as NHSery, was named after New Labour's favourite private health tycoon, Chai Patel. But Dr Patel is slightly less fashionable these days, having resigned from the board of Help the Aged after residents at a nursing home run by his former company, Westminster Health Care, were found to have been ill-treated. As he no longer runs the elderly care firm, Dr Patel will also be ending his stint on the older people's taskforce in November. Perhaps the auditors are right after all. Why should CHAI be named after Chai when it could be named after that hero to millions, wellknown Argentine medic Che Guevara (left)?
And now, as promised, the missing link between Prince Charles, Mr Blobby and the editor of HSJ: it is Dr Michael Dixon of the NHS Alliance. For Highgrove visitor Dr Mike is on complementary therapy-swapping terms with HRH and pals too with Mr Blobby's mentor Noel Edmunds. And he still fits in time for a chat and a spot of iridology with HSJ editor Alastair McLellan. Monitor salutes Dr Mike, clearly the best-connected doc on the block.