Published: 20/12/2001, Volume III, No. 5786 Page 52

Adverse incidents and near-misses: why, Monitor's marriage has been littered with them!

Whether Mrs Monitor has strengthened the marital bond by keeping a comprehensive database of Monitor's most common misjudgements (scanty lingerie appears to be a recurrent theme) is, perhaps, another question.

But the system certainly seems to make sense to the National Patient Safety Agency.

Of course, the real question on everyone's lips is: 'How do you define an adverse incident or a near-miss?' How indeed. There is a thin line between a silk camisole and a nylon schoolgirl's uniform, as Mrs Monitor pointed out, for the first time, in 1967.

So the NPSA is determined to send out a simple message: if an operation ends with the patient bursting into flames (above), it is reasonable to describe it as a bit of a whoopsadaisy, to use a technical term . Whether the NPSA decided to sacrifice a real patient simply to demonstrate the point is hard to say. Perhaps its lucky photographer just happened to be passing.

Now hey kids, It is time to get with it and, indeed, down on the street, daddio!

Yep, Monitor is one crazy cat, and do not think he is not still hip! But we could all learn a thing or two from slangmeister John Hutton who showed the House of Commons how to get with the programme in a standing committee on the NHS Reform Bill last week. Responding to a question about further scrutiny of the NHS, he said it was not the government's intention to have 'an army of inspectors trampling across the NHS on a routine basis, 24/7, disrupting patient care.

That would be ridiculous.' More ridiculous still is the thought of a middle-aged man who is so in tune with the MTV generation that he can say things like '24/7' unprovoked.

Speaking of gentlemen out of their depth, Monitor apologises for yet another mention of Roy Lilley, the man for whom the word 'ubiquitous' was surely born. Roy can turn his hand to almost anything, when a sense of shame might deter a lesser man. At the NICE conference two weeks ago, this included sharing his views on the art world with almost anyone who would listen. One glance at the logo of the Modernisation Agency (top) and he was reminded of Modigliani. To help readers not blessed with Roy's knowledge of art history, here is a picture of a typical Modigliani (left, middle). Those who can't spot a similarity may find that the agency has more in common with the work of a more modern artist, such as Mark Rothko (left).

Those who are not so art-minded may find it easier to think of the agency's logo as being a bit like a box with fuzzy edges. Which rather reminds Monitor of the agency itself.

And finally - Merry Christmas one and all!

And if the thought of 'funnyman' Ken Dodd (right) hosting his 15th NHS carol concert in Liverpool doesn't leave you with a lump in your throat, then Monitor will eat his hat.

Glad tidings!