The National Institute for Clinical Excellence has been up and running since 9am and already Monitor is bored with the New NHS. Time to move on from NICE to NASTY - and the big question: just who will get the top job at the Commission for Health Improvement? Monitor can open the book with two possible contenders: West Midlands regional public health director Professor Rod Griffiths, and Audit Commission director of health studies Dr Jonathan Boyce. Monitor's sources suggest the Prof would find favour for the shake-up of cancer services on his patch and for his ongoing efforts to beat GPs and hospital docs alike into line over the rapid treatment of heart attack victims, while Doc Boyce fits the bill because of his experience as a medic, manager and watchdog over many years. Of course, if anyone wishes to put forward other nominees, Monitor would be only too happy to pass their names on.
At least Morecambe Bay Hospitals trust has found a way of keeping all these winds of NHS change out of Furness General Hospital. A press release brings details of a new main entrance. 'The main purpose of the entrance,' it says, 'is to improve the environmental conditions, preventing future inclement weather and severe cold winds from infiltrating the patient wait area.' Nothing like a spot of plain English - and, forgive Monitor's ignorance, but isn't the main purpose of an entrance to let people in and out of the building?
Not that our friends from the Lakes can touch the East-enders when it comes to jargon. Monitor's source in the Pearly Queen outfit reveals the following description of data to be collected by City and Hackney Community Services trust and Hackney social services: 'Number of clients for whom assessments were completed in the period by primary client type cross- tabulated with known or anticipated sequel to assessment and extended age group.' Perhaps it's in rhyming slang.
Good news, meanwhile, from the DoH, which points out that women doctors secured 15.9 per cent of first-time merit awards this year compared with 17.4 per cent last year, so 'the overall trend remains upward'.
Jolly lucrative those merit awards are, too. Though not quite as lucrative as the Hereford Journal seems to think (see above). There must have been a few red faces in the editor's office when someone pointed out that very few of the consultants involved in private finance initiative building projects are doctors. Still, it was a cracking good headline - even if it wasn't true.
Speaking of building work, Monitor's favourite GP, Primary Care Group Alliance boss Michael Dixon, has seen his house 'quite literally taken apart all the way from the roof to about six inches from the ground' since a fireworks factory blew the front off and builders had to take down the jerry-built medieval walls which survived. 'The question is, why did the local Health and Safety Executive accept planning permission for a fireworks factory so close to my house?' asks the rather perturbed medic. He admits that he may be getting a touch paranoid -'If you think I have put on weight it is simply that I am wearing a bullet-proof vest' - but one thing still baffles him: 'Which lot want to get rid of us?' he asks. 'The government or the opposition?'
By way of a reminder, Doc Dixon recalls that the house's main beam was faulty because 'it came from the house that had been previously burnt by Robert of Douai' back in the early middle ages. 'It was all the fault of of King Edward (the Pacific),' he says. Having died and been buried at Glastonbury Abbey, his grave turned out to be in the way of some later building work by Abbott Aethelward, who dug him up. 'The new grave, however, was not sufficiently big for a full-size coffin so they opened up his old coffin and chopped his legs off. Though dead for more than 50 years, Edgar's legs bled profusely, which was declared a miracle by the abbot.' The choppy churchman went on to pay for a new burial 'by renting out my house to a lady called Edith, who later married one of William the Conqueror's generals' - that's Robert. And he in turn burnt it down rather than give it back to the abbot. 'So the story (which is fully authenticated in Middle English and Latin text) proves conclusively that a previous king of England was responsible for the shoddy state of my house,' concludes the Doc.