It is Monitor's sad duty to report that Dobbo's personal enforcer has met with a little accident. Joe McCrea fell down a flight of restaurant steps and dislocated his shoulder so badly that he spent the rest of the evening learning about the vastly improved A&E services central London hospitals offer under New Labour. Happily (Monitor's friends at the DoH inexplicably break into peels of laughter when asked about the incident), the Enforcer is now back at work - with his arm in a sling.
Monitor is more sceptical of reports that as the Enforcer slipped under the anaesthetic, he helped raise staff morale by babbling about the£21bn he and Frank had secured for the NHS.
Which group of staff would you imagine is most concerned with management costs? Go on, have a guess - doctors, nurses, managers themselves? No, according to a DoH analysis of replies to Dobbo's letter last spring to all NHS staff asking for ways to improve the service, the answer is hospital porters. Overall, the top five concerns were priority- setting, pay, government policy, funding and management costs. Apparently, chief executives opted for rationing as their main concern - though Dobbo's thank-you letter to those who replied doesn't make clear whether they were for or against.
But for Royal Shrewsbury Hospital trust, Monitor fears the very existence of Dobbo's letter may have gone unnoticed. Though the trust managed to feature the letter in a recent staff magazine, the DoH failed to find any trace of it. It couldn't have anything to do with the embarrassment factor in the response rate, could it? Why, 17,000 replies is pretty good - unless, of course, you launched the initiative by setting up a special handling unit to deal with the expected 100,000 letters that would flood in.
It's a good job Dobbo didn't e-mail people. As Monitor has already reported (22 April), one chief exec responded to a missive from Sir Alan Langlands, only to have it bounce back with the message, 'Name not recognised'. They were not alone. A new e-mail to all health authority and trust chief execs from 'ISD2 project manager' Kathryn Allen apologises that 'due to technical difficulties', no one in the entire NHS got through to him.