It is nice to know that age cannot wither some people. Duncan Eaton, chief executive and buyer of large amounts of things at the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency, may have been working in the NHS for more than 30 years, but he is anxious to let it be known that there is still life in the old dog. He told an Audit Commission conference on the provision of equipment for older and disabled people that he had a particular interest in sex. 'When I was starting out in the 1960s, ' he said, 'safe sex meant not giving your real name. Now it means having a handrail around the bed.'
Who says the NHS is slow to respond to a crisis - even on an aeroplane 30,000 feet above the Austrian Tyrol. Mr and Mrs Monitor watched in horror as a fiftysomething man keeled over clutching his chest. But our fears turned to awe as not one but two doctors and three nurses sprang into action. Much activity involving plastic gloves, ice-packs, massage and recovery positions saw the traveller stabilised. But the NHS might do well to take a tip out of the airline's rewards manual. Within minutes of our heroes regaining their seats air hostesses were despatched with clinking 'thank you' bags of booze and fags. 'I hope I do not get stopped at customs - I think I am over the limit now, ' a worried medic told a fellow passenger as we waited in baggage reclaim.
Cripes! HSJ was really torn off a strip when one of our callow young reporter types rang jolly old Glaxo-Wellcome.
'Hello. It is HSJ here. Can we have a chat with your executive director, Jeremy Strachan?'
'Who? `'came the curt reply.
'Jeremy Strachan - he's one of your directors.'
'We have no-one of that name here, ' was the haughty retort. Persisting - for that is what these keen young hacks are good at: 'It is just been announced that he is to be the new secretary of the British Medical Association.' At which point she was put firmly in her place by the G-W guardian who said: 'Do you mean Mr Strawn? And he's not available to speak to the media for two reasons. First of all, he doesn't want to, and second he is far too busy organising the world's biggest drug company merger.' Monitor will be passing on this important guidance on pronunciation to footie commentator John Motson for the next time he interviews the flame-haired Coventry City manager Gordon Strawn on Match of the Day. See you, Jeremy.
Just to reassure that feisty G-W girl that we are only seen in the best of places, one of HSJ's finest recently found themselves in the hallway at 10 Downing Street waiting for a briefing on winter pressures from our glorious leader, Mr Blair. Number 10 officials had hurriedly amassed not only the great and the good from the media, but the likes of NHS Confederation supremo Stephen Thornton and Royal College of Nursing general secretary Christine Hancock for the meeting. Presumably the intention was that each should sit on either side of the room, a gangway between them. A wet-behind-the-ears pup of a press officer anxiously approached the gaggle of hacks with the words: 'Are you journalists? Or stakeholders?' There were bemused looks all round, when one wide-awake hack sharply replied: 'I thought we were all stakeholders in the NHS.'