As we all know, there are three kinds of people: those who can count and those who can't.

And into which camp should we put the poor old sausages working away on the much anticipated HRG4? And more to the point, when will we see it? I've been assured that it's been road tested (in a "don't follow me, I'm lost too" kind of way) and that it'll be with me soon. And yet no sign, no puff of smoke. And then I look out of the window and see that the clocks have gone back. And then I look at my in-box and see that the PCTs have published their timetable for this year's commissioning round. But still no sign, still no puff of smoke.

And between you and me, last week I came to the conclusion that HRG4 does not exist. Like Father Christmas, the Easter Bunny, Liberal Democrat health policy and the chances of a fair hearing from the Healthcare Commission, HRG4 is just a figment of the imagination.

And asking around, I think that I may have stumbled onto something big. Because it would appear that HRG4 is not alone. In fact, it's just the latest in a long line of illusions aimed at keeping the masses in check, a virtual soma to keep the collective nose to the grindstone with the promise of jam tomorrow. Like the national review of SIFT, the promise of money coming out of London (p-lease!) and the investment of£300m in maternity services. Oh, and that really good one about the promise of no structural change for the next twenty minutes.

Now we'd better keep our voices down, because I've just been told that the Men in Black from the Department of Health are on the way over, but have you heard of any more?

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