David Cameron’s dog speaks fluent NHS
Pandora is at the NHS Confederation Conference, which by the end becomes something of a jamboree for beleaguered NHS wallas. This year, the politicians were out in force. First up was the Queen of Beleaguerement, Patricia Hewitt, who in all fairness performed better than expected, even managing to mask the patronising tones of her delivery.
David Nicholson, Chief Executive of the NHS, paid her credit as he rallied his troops. Pandora was surprised to hear that Patricia Hewitt had indeed listened to all the advice given to her by her civil servants. This revelation perplexed Pandora. Why have we been blaming the government for the pitiful state of NHS morale when it was those pesky civil servants all along? In any case, Mr Nicholson isn’t a man for questions. His message to his army of NHS sepoys was don’t ask questions in case you hear an answer you don’t like, and just bloody get on with delivery and deliver.
This tub-thumping aside, the workers of the NHS (not the doctors, the management types) are clearly preparing for a changing of the guard—not the change of secretary of state expected in a couple of weeks but the change of government expected in a couple of years.
This is bad news for Gordon Brown who might see this behaviour of civil servants as treachery. The mood of the conference doesn’t lie though. The most eagerly expected session of the conference was a double act between David Cameron and Andrew Lansley, who had the civil servants at hello—as well as goodbye with some sensible talk in the middle.
The only blip on the Cameronometer was when he half answered a question before turning to Mr Lansley: “Why have a dog and bark yourself?” The shadow secretary of state for health was unfazed and finished the answer in “fluent NHS,” which is how Mr Cameron chose to describe his dog’s jargon-laden yapping.