Many people in this country will remember the first summer of the millennium for just one thing: Euro 2000 - hopes of glory dashed by relentless post-match analysis of the society we live in. But some of us are set apart. Beyond the grubbiness, the squabbles and the face-painting. For some of us are health service managers.
That's right. NHS managers may get up to mischief (see HSJ news pages, any old week), but it's not without a cheeky spring in their step and wistful glance to the days when old maids cycled through the mists to early communion and there was only one game that really mattered. Those days may yet live on. Bizarrely, that most modish of contraptions, the Internet, is responsible for young pups of managers bringing our NHS into disrepute. But enough from Monitor: let the Department of Health Weekly explain the delicate nature of the problem.
'On Friday 2nd of June DoH staff using the Internet for official business noticed that response rates had slowed alarmingly. On investigating this, Information Services Division discovered that over 800 Internet sessions were open accessing cricket-related websites.
The position presumably would have been worse had rain not prevented play at Trent Bridge that day between England and Zimbabwe.'
Good to know that while the rest of England united in a footie frenzy, the NHS was making one last stand for the glory days of cricket. The DoH news reminds us that using the Internet for non-business purposes is no joke, and that 'steps will be taken to protect the system from significant misuse'. You have been warned.
Meanwhile on to things of an entirely different nature. Croydon, in fact. For Croydon South is the constituency which witnessed an extraordinary U-turn by local MP Richard Ottaway. The town's residents were 'up in arms' over threats to build a secure mental health unit at Cane Hill, Coulsden. Their protests were heard by Croydon Council whose leader, Hugh Malyan, vowed to bring the issue to the secretary of state for the environment, John Prescott. Man of the people Ricky Ottaway hailed the news 'a triumph for the people of Coulsden'. He went further to explain that a public inquiry was 'the only way forward for such a contentious and complex planning application'. But an MP can change his mind, can't he? Six days later Mr Ottaway squeezed out another release. Calls for a public inquiry ahead of any local planning application had created a 'legal quagmire'. As for his old mate councillor Malyan's comments sympathising with local residents, well they were simply 'outrageous!' Only in Croydon, Monitor hopes.
Meanwhile, from the land of 'but we could really use the publicity' comes the latest release from the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union, sharing their views on revalidation. 'NHS plumbers say docs should get check-ups, too.' The plumbers say that if CORGI plumbers have to have their skills checked every five years, then so should hospital doctors. In a particularly tasteful piece of example setting, AEEU highlights Kent gynaecologist Rodney Ledward as the kind of plumber who could have done with a regular CORGI check.
Ah Wales! Country of rolling hills and valleys, Dylan Thomas, Aled Jones, not to mention that pouting young thing Zeta-Jones. And yet what's this? While applauding the fact that all documents coming from Wales are bilingual, Monitor is sometimes curious as to the exact etymological roots of some of these strange and unfamiliar words.
Take the fax headers coming out from the National Assembly for Wales, which talks about 'ffacs.' 'Ffacs?' You couldn't make it up, could you?
Finally, time for apologies, for even Monitor can make a teensy weensy mistake. Lucky that readers are so well-endowed on the GSOH front. Here's Grace Goodall, national financial management trainee, who tells us she was 'most excited to learn that I had been to Bournemouth for the management training scheme conference. There was I thinking I had been in Bristol for three days when I had obviously been confused by the excitement of a trip away somewhere.
Maybe there was some kind of portal that was opened to transfer us mysteriously from Bristol to Bournemouth. If this is the case maybe this portal could be used to transfer patients between hospitals: think of the savings this could offer in transportation and ambulance costs'.
Alright pet, keep your hair on. Monitor is truly contrite.