Just occasionally, and really not too often at all, Monitor has a whim. . . a passing fancy, if you like, to read a publication about something other than health management. Usually the moment passes before any harm is done. But at other times, and in particular in weaker moments, there is the Daily Mail. And the Mail has been on top form lately, exposing 'The Monster Devouring Britain'. And what is the monster? Well, lesbian caseworkers in Islington. But That is not all.
The Mail couldn't help but notice that 'the house journal of big-spending statism' (The Guardian, but hey it could have been HSJ) published a rather bigger-than-usual public sector advertising section for jobs earlier this month. 'And guess what . . . you'll be paying for them'. But surely the Mail wouldn't complain about nursies and doctors and teachers? Ah no, in fact the adverts are calling for 'a vast army of politically correct bureaucrats and activists who are required to serve a fashionable ideology rather than meet the real needs of the ordinary British public'. Sound familiar? But no, actually, It is not about health service managers.
'When the NHS is in such a shambles that a seriously ill patient can lie on a trolley for more than 40 hours, it is an outrage that the 46 pages of The Guardian supplement devoted to health and social care should be filled with jobs such as a gay men's sexual health promotion specialist at Slough NHS trust, or a community hypertension prevention co-ordinator for the African community at Merton trust, ' says the Mail's Leo McKinstry.
Hard to know what to think, really. At first the realisation that gay people choose to live in Slough was shock enough in itself. Then Monitor wondered if it was time to think - ahem - 'out of the box'. What could the gay men's sexual health promotion specialist do to ease the boredom of 40 hours on a trolley?
'How many of these jobs are really necessary?' thunders the Mail, which then lists an array of frivolous occupations ranging from fundraising for Bosnian refugees, supporting teenage parents and working with women with mental health problems. But Monitor was especially intrigued by one advertisement, looking for a part-time lesbian. The homosexual on Tuesdays and Thursdays would work as an advocate caseworker on lesbian and gay rights.
There is power, influence and glory. And then There is Doctormagazine. Only joking. For noone can deny the influence literally wielded by the magazine on government policy. That is right: last month one issue of Doctor had a front-page story to be particularly proud of : 'DoH takes action as GP quits UK'.
A story indeed (see right); and, dare Monitor suggest, one slightly lacking in conventional news elements. It pictured the very same GP - Dr Keith Anderson by name - surrounded by rather a lot of boxes. Now the story is this: the good doctor was told that he would have to do a year's training to be a GP here even though he had been a perfectly good GP in Australia. Dr Anderson had a court hearing so he could skip the training, won his case but then stropped off in a fit of pique back to Oz anyway. Now the DoH is to meet the joint committee on postgraduate training for general practice to see if they wouldn't like to have a look at their rules on the topic. Although in fact they didn't exactly say that it had anything to do with the GP himself.
And finally, Monitor was as delighted as you like to hear that Lesley Hinds had been appointed the new chair of the Health Education Board for Scotland, even if he had sort of never heard of her. Luckily, the press release from the Scottish Office provided all the background information one could need. Here's what it sent out:
'Ms Hinds, a former primary school teacher, is a Labour Party member of the city of Edinburgh council. She has been a chairperson of North Edinburgh Area Renewal since 1996 and Convenor of Lothian and Borders Police Board since 1999. She is currently on the board of Telford College, Edinburgh Women's Training Centre and Waterfront Edinburgh. Ms Hinds has been actively involved in the Labour Party, in a number of capacities, for the past 20 years. The minister is relaxed about whether to include or delete this sentence as to whether this level of 'political' detail is needed.'
Monitor can only imagine the instances on which Ms Deacon felt less relaxed.