Remember the halcyon days when Dobbo could drop a personal letter to a million NHS staff asking for suggestions - and not be overwhelmed with anatomically inventive ideas about where to stick it? You may, but the Department of Health is trying to forget. To recap, Dobbo sent batches of letters to health authorities and trusts in March at a cost of 135,000 in a bid to involve staff in improving the service. So convinced was he that the initiative would get a good response that he set up a 'special handling service' to deal with the anticipated 100,000 replies. Alas, seven months later only 10,000 people have put pen to paper. A DoH spokesman says somewhat forlornly that it's not too late to write. So go on, with the festive season approaching, make an old man happy and send Dobbo a Christmas card.
Not that civil service seasons runs on the same calendar as the rest of us. If you are baffled by DoH documents promised for 'autumn' which eventually emerge on Christmas Eve, or by 'spring guidance' which takes until the longest day to appear, Monitor can reveal all. A mole admits the DoH keeps to the 'gardening year'. So if you have to get that report out before the leaves fall, you launch it in London; and if it needs to be out by the summer, you launch it in Leeds, which being so far north of the Royal Horticultural Society's hang-out at Wisley may be weeks later than at Richmond House.
Good news from Tory Party conference, where doctors and nurses offering delegates a three-minute health check say that, even though a 'fair number' of those seeking their services were overweight, stress levels this year seemed to be down - a function, perhaps, of being freed from the cares of office. Some delegates, though, clearly wanted all the stress back. One nurse reports being offered money to predict where the next by-election would be.
And still more good news as another hospital is saved for the nation - or would be if it hadn't closed years ago. Camden council has told former Eurythmics star Dave Stewart that he can't have planning permission to turn the old St Paul's Hospital in Covent Garden into a multimedia complex. The Eurythmics have, of course, been immensely influential in the NHS, having provided both Dobbo with inspiration for his trust merger policy with their 1989 LP We two are one, and managers with the perfect response - 'Sweet dreams are made of this, who am I to disagree...'
Meanwhile, strange goings on in the IT department of a London trust are reported to Monitor. A tip-off from an anonymous informant alleges that a senior IT bod is helping the police with their inquiries after managers discovered he was running a nice little business from a computer hidden under the floor which piggy-backed off the hospital's own system. The trust vehemently denies it all, so Monitor is sadly unable to name names. Anyone know more?