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Private Eye

September 27, 2016

Statement from Prof Terence Stephenson Chair, General Medical Council on the appointment of Charlie Massey as Chief Executive
Filed under: Private Eye — Dr. Phil @ 12:08 pm

I wonder if I might clarify the story behind the recruitment of our new Chief Executive, Charlie Massey? (Medicine Balls, Sept 16)

I chaired the appointments panel and I am confident the process we used was rigorous and produced a good result.  Charlie Massey joins us from a long career in the civil service – he has worked for Labour, Coalition and Conservative ministers – the idea that a senior civil servant somehow reflects the views of a particular Minister or administration misunderstands how the civil service works. Our current chief executive’s predecessor was also a civil servant.

The GMC’s Chief Executive’s responsibility is to lead in delivering our strategy, which is set by the organisation’s Council, not by Government. In doing this he will be accountable to me and the other members of Council – half of whom are doctors.  Our independence from government remains vital and we will continue to exercise that independence in the years ahead.

The GMC does not represent doctors or employers and has no role in contracts, manpower planning or determining health service policy. But we are legally responsible for setting and enforcing

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September 19, 2016

Private Eye Medicine Balls 1425
Filed under: Private Eye — Dr. Phil @ 1:26 pm

Hunt’s Human Shield

Why are junior doctors so suspicious about the appointment of ‘Charlie’ Massey as chief executive of the General Medical Council? Massey is currently Director General of Acute Care and Workforce at the Department of Health, working closely with health secretary Jeremy Hunt on the workforce implications of the junior doctors’ contract and Hunt’s vision of ‘a truly 7 day NHS’, in the absence of  any extra staffing and funding, or indeed a clear definition, plan and evidence base.

Massey came a cropper when he appeared in front of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in February to reveal the Government had very limited data and no dedicated funding for its 7 day plans.  Massey had no idea what the manpower implications were for the policy, nor indeed what the current staffing situation was in the NHS. Massey and the DH were described by the PAC as ‘flying blind’, powered only by the wind of the government’s vacuous election pledges. The DH had no readily accessible data on staff vacancy rates, limited data on course completion rates, limited data on leaver rates and no data on temporary staffing. There was no evidence that the proposed contract changes could be

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Private Eye Medicine Balls 1424
Filed under: Private Eye — Dr. Phil @ 1:16 pm

Striking Alternatives

Do junior doctors have an alternative to more strike action, which the BMA is currently planning? Some feel that the reappointment of Jeremy Hunt as health secretary and the government’s intransigence in trying to force through a ‘cost neutral’ extended 7 day NHS service based on deliberate falsification of the evidence leaves them with no alternative. Others fear the BMA will flounder. As one ‘senior’ junior doctor put it: ‘I’m not striking again. The BMA agreed to this contract yet now calls us to strike again because we disagreed with its own recommendations.’ MD is not a member of the BMA, because of its tendency to shaft and silence NHS whistle-blowers, but unless it can blow the whistle relentlessly on why contract imposition is more harmful to patients than more strikes, it will lose public support and fail.

So what are the alternatives? Justice for Health – a social justice movement founded by five junior doctor activists – have secured a full, expedited Judicial Review hearing in the High Court on September 19 and 20 to challenge health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s power to impose a contract on junior doctors.  It has also successfully challenged Hunt’s exorbitant demands

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August 12, 2016

Private Eye Medicine Balls 1423
Filed under: Private Eye — Dr. Phil @ 8:32 am

Humanising Healthcare

“Dying gives you a freedom to speak your mind.” So said inspirational geriatrician Dr Kate Granger, who died of cancer on July 23 at the age of 34. Granger was diagnosed with a very rare sarcoma (desmoplastic small-round-cell tumour) in 2011, when her median life expectancy was just 14 months and yet she lived for nearly 5 years. Even more extraordinary was her desire while dying to improve the NHS.

Granger’s first job on qualifying as a doctor was in Dewsbury hospital, working for a wise diabetologist called Dr Kemp who told her: “Being a physician is about painting a picture. It’s not about ticking a box or following a protocol. And during the admission, you’re painting extra bits of the picture every day until you’ve got the full painting.” When she became a patient, she observed that while many of the staff took time to introduce themselves and get to know her, some of them didn’t. This was less out of callousness, more because some doctors struggle to know what to say to patients with terminal cancer, especially if they are also doctors.

As Granger put it; ‘I’ve been referred to, within earshot, as ‘bed seven’ and

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July 28, 2016

Private Eye Medicine Balls 1422
Filed under: Private Eye — Dr. Phil @ 8:10 pm

The Sins of the Hunt

The reappointment of Jeremy Hunt to Health Secretary seems odd given that so many of the staff distrust him and Jim Mackey – Head of NHS ‘Improvement’ – declared on the same day that the NHS was ‘in a mess’, would miss all its finance and performance targets and there had been “five years of decline on all of the things that people would worry about”. Theresa May kept Hunt waiting, testing if any sane woman wanted the job first, before ordering Hunt to fix his – and Andrew Lansley’s mess.

The odds aren’t good. Hunt struggles with critical thought, such as signing an early day motion to support homeopathy. After tweeting about meetings with pharmaceutical companies making new drugs for dementia, Hunt decided that GPs weren’t diagnosing dementia enough, so he offered them £55 per new diagnosis via screening them. The trouble is, ‘positive’ screening tests are wrong 80% of the time. Take 100 people over 65, and 6 will have dementia. If you screen them all, 23 will have a false positive. Only when the press found people were selling up and moving into care homes when they thought they had dementia, only

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