Monitor isn't just here for the nasty things in life. In the spirit of partnership which pervades our glorious NHS, this week some handy hints to guide you through the clinical governance agenda, starting with a breakthrough from the Townsend Centre for International Policy Research, where they've stumbled on an uncanny connection between illness and death. Dangerous talk, one might think - but here it is in full: 'The most direct precursor to premature death in the 1990s is illness, ' say a gaggle of academics hanging on to the coat-tails of the Pete Townsend who isn't a slightly clapped-out rock star. With all this talk of NICE and quality agendas, isn't it reassuring that there are still a few short cuts left to take? Just look that patient in the eye. If he seems a bit peaky, well mark Monitor's words - he's a goner.
Meanwhile, London Health Emergency shrugs off scurrilous rumours that a drop in funding from the capital's Labour-controlled councils has left it dependent on the kindness of Tories. Grant Mitchell's favourite socialist, LHE campaigns supremo Geoff Martin, is quick to set the record straight: 'If they are saying, is New Labour trying to shut down LHE, my answer to that is, 'Come and 'ave a go if you think you're hard enough'.' The Burly One also points out that LHE welcomes cash from anyone - even Tory-controlled councils.
On a sleaze tip, beacon-greedy Somerset health authority is upping the raunch factor in a cheeky attempt to draw attention to its 'groundbreaking' work on sex. The foxily-titled Somersex newsletter offers a wealth of initiatives to discourage sluttish behaviour. Sterling work in the prevention of impregnation is always super to hear about, but what can we read into its decision to regurgitate statistics from a Durex survey on sexual fantasies? Surely the news that 7 per cent of people are 'thinking about watching TV' while enjoying a dose of rumpypumpy suggests a need for a radical re-think on public health. A few more bodice-ripping dramas of a Sunday night and the garments of those good people of the West Country could yet remain intact.
But enough of filth, tawdriness and politics - matters of a spiritual nature always lift Monitor's soul. As Jesus (left) might have said: 'It is harder for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than to understand the small print on a private medical insurance policy.' But when BUPA chief executive Valerie Gooding was asked to nominate her fave person of the last 2000 years, she didn't hesitate. Jesus Christ, she suggested, perhaps before realising that being bearded, cash-strapped and of no fixed abode does not make for a good liability rating. Worse still, what happens to the pay-outs when policy holders rise from the dead?
Speaking of matters portentous, Monitor takes this chance to salute the valiant efforts of the NHS in conquering the Y2K bug. Computers compliant, the coffee percolator guaranteed not to break down at midnight - even the ventilators in ITU might make it through to 4 January when the maintenance staff come back to work. And then some spoilsport comes along and ruins the party. Well thanks a lot, Medact. What used to be called the Medical Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons when Monitor was young just has to point out in the (nuclear) winter edition of its newsletter that 'hundreds of thermonuclear missiles and atomic reactors remain vulnerable to Y2K bugs'. Better beef up NHS Direct, then.
Meanwhile, good news for people in the home counties as NHS Direct Kent and Surrey gets its official launch today. Well, good news for everyone except the inhabitants of Snodland - who have been excluded.
Monitor intends to launch a tireless campaign to have this oversight rectified. All messages of support for the Stop Snubbing Snodland campaign to the usual e-mail address, please. Still, if anyone can empathise, it is surely Thanet. The bit of Kent surrounding Margate is so maligned that people with a fear of living there have come together to form the Thanet Phobic Group. That said, the bunch are nothing if not plucky, facing up to their 'worst fears' by holding regular group hugs at their Margate HQ.
And finally, flashing in disabled toilets is not an activity one would hope to associate with Monitor's favourite GP. Yet NHS PCG Alliance boss Dr Mike Dixon confesses to exactly that, with barely a hint of remorse. The desperation of Dr Dixon and hapless sidekick Mike Sobanja to look their best for HSJ 's annual awards bash perhaps explains why they were found in a state of undress in the disabled toilets at the King's Fund. Pity the unknown lady who caught the pair in all their 'glory.' With a 'flash' of inspiration they asked if she was disabled. 'No, ' she replied. 'Then you shouldn't be in here, ' they said, before shutting the door.