Informed sources - not including any current or unemployed government spin doctors - advise me that the medical profession is considering abolition of consultant merit awards. The move would end this gratuitous waste of NHS resources, and replace it with a revolutionary system which fits well with the education sector's 'Baker Days', where teachers vote themselves leave to indulge in navel-gazing instead of teaching. It would also complement the extra statutory days' holiday for other NHS staff awarded for no apparent reason.

Under the new system, each NHS consultant would assess their contribution and decide how much further education was required to ensure their pre- eminence. They could then allocate themselves days free from treating patients - known as Dobbo Days. They could be taken at any time in the leave year - but not used in conjunction with seminars or lunches provided by the drug industry.

If a consultant was unable to use their total number of Dobbo Days, they would be required to fulfil contractual agreements at a rate of triple sessional fees plus two Dobbo Days in lieu.

David Rae