As a loyal mouthpiece of the great helmsman, Monitor is always happy to pass on the thoughts of Chairman Frank. So here goes: there have been 'an alarming number of proposals for private hospitals since January', writes our Dobbo - who should know. He is particularly concerned at joint proposals from the special trustees at London's University College Hospital and a private firm for a new hospital next door to UCH, 'which would also have given the NHS eight operating theatres'. You might think this is one of those public-private partnerships Dobbo is so keen on. But no. Just because 16 years have passed since Chairman Frank voiced his concerns about UCH and private hospitals in the first briefing paper produced by NHS Unlimited, there's no reason to think he's changed his mind.
Perusing the ancient document, Monitor began to wonder what became of NHS Unlimited ('chairman Frank Dobson'). And who served on the 'committee set up to counter private medicine'? Though Briefing No 1 claims the steering committee 'includes NHS staff at all levels', no one seems able to recall who they were or when the whole thing was wound up. But with health authorities and trusts busy dispatching patients cash-in-hand to private hospitals to get waiting lists down, perhaps the time has come to revive it. What do you say, Frank?
And will it be publishable? Interviewed for the Mail on Sunday's You magazine, Dobbo, who declares himself 'secretly shy', was asked to come up with one of the dirty jokes for which he is justifiably famous. 'There was a joke I told when opening the sexual health clinic at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead...' he begins. Alas, at that point the MoS lost its bottle and could print no more. Readers are invited to write in if they wish 'to receive a copy of the secretary of state for health's dirty joke'. Monitor's envelope is in the post.
Speaking of bad language, thanks to the lobbyists at the Continuing Care Consortium, we now have the 'compression of mortality' as a possible policy objective. But what on earth does it mean? Being crushed to death, perhaps? No, explains CCC's report on the prevention of dependency in later life, it means 'delaying the onset of disability'. Well, what's wrong with calling it that in the first place?
Never let it be said, however, that jargon and business terminology have no place in the NHS. What, after all, could be more useful than 'blamestorming'? It's when everyone gets together after something has gone wrong to decide who will carry the can.
And finally, when the fickle finger of political blamestorming finally points to Frank, what new career options may beckon? Back with the You interview, our hero has no comment to make on the Spice Girls, but predicts: 'I think the Teletubbies will split as well.' And who better to step in when Dipsy goes solo than the rotund health secretary? Time for tubby bye-byes.