When people say Mr Charisma, John Hutton is rarely the first person to come to mind. Nice, yes. Pale and slightly ghoulish looking?
Monitor blames the photographers. But charismatic? Hapless is more a quality that springs to mind.
Just last week one of HSJ 's more deluxe members of staff had the misfortune to visit a strange phenomenon known as the launch of Leadership London.
Monitor knows all about leadership from his army days. It is about knowing who's who and what's what. But Monitor also subscribes to the old-fashioned view that a small amount of 'personality', or charisma, also offers some benefit in the leadership stakes. Turned out not. In an evidence-based treatment for insomnia, the programme saw John 'streaky' Bacon followed by John 'interesting' Hutton.
But the dream ticket was not to be. For when our HSJ representative burst on the scene, it was only to find that a last-minute change of timetable ordered by Mr Hutton's office saw the unfortunate minister re-scheduled to speak at 4.20pm - 10 minutes before the programme was due to be launched. Oh poor Mr Hutton, what humiliation! He was practically mistaken for the warm-up man as he practised his oratory best on a slowly filling room. It could have been so embarrassing. Luckily, Monitor can exclusively reveal, a malfunctioning microphone meant no-one could hear him anyway.
Monitor has witnessed this government's difficulty when it comes to treading the delicate balance between public safety and civil liberty in mental health reform. Commentators less savvy than Monitor may have felt that all had gorn quiet on the Western Front, what with delays in bringing the necessary legislation through. Not so! It turns out that despite all the reassurance about not injecting people enjoying conditions related to mental health (formerly known as mad) on kitchen tables, in fact the government is ready to get tough. And how! In an interview with The Times two weeks ago foreign secretary Jack Straw revealed plans to bomb the mentally ill. Mr Straw described Osama Bin Laden as 'psychotic and paranoid'.
'These words do exist to describe people like this', he went on, 'because a key characteristic of people who are psychotic and paranoid is the sense of complete detachment from the sufferings of others. They are obsessed with their own rightness and of what they are saying.' Mr Straw's ability to make a clinical diagnosis aside, Monitor wonders what the mental health lobby will make of bombs in the community.
Recruitment and retention: that old chestnut. Some would say that the NHS's attempts to tackle the enduring problem haven't really worked that well.
Monitor would say, It is not its fault. After all, look at this recruitment poster by the Dutch health service (left, above) and you'll see it can offer far more than the dull old British health service ever could. For one thing, It is got clogs.
For another, a dyslexic George Orwell writes its blurbs: 'You, ambitious anesthesiology [sic] assistant, who wants to broaden his or her professional horizons, are now offered an attractive career move into an other world.'
The job discription [sic] explains that you will 'render anasthesiological [sic] care which requires the tuning of the care with other disciplines, to assure a good progress and optimal total care'.
What kind of person does it need? Someone with initiative, who wishes to broaden their horizons. 'Learning to speak the Dutch language is no obstacle for you, ' the advert breezily proffers. After all, if University Hospital Groningen could master the English lingo in two shakes of a dog's tail, why should anasthesiologists [sic] have a problem?
And finally, Monitor wonders what it was that tempted Jacqueline Rubin into an illustrious career which saw her become primary care dental adviser to County Durham and Darlington health authority. Money, prestige . . . the chance to bring clean teeth to the people of the North East? Or could it be the superb photo opportunities? Ms Rubin, pictured with an enormous set of gnashers and an oversize toothbrush (left, below), gave Monitor an idea. If You have been the subject of a slightly embarrassing picture for tawdry health promotion purposes - or you know a colleague who has - why not send your pic for inclusion in Monitor's hall of shame?