With the worst apparently over, Gordon finally popped up to say something soothing about Northern Rock. I heard it the radio earlier: the expected ooze about our strong economy withstanding the turbulence, and so on. I suppose the jury's still out on that one. And speaking of juries, the first "citizens" one on the NHS took place in Birmingham today, in a non blaze of publicity. For a flavour of how the future is going to be spun, read the following extract from this article on "consultation":
"With rising citizen expectations, the advance of new technologies and a much sharper understanding of the impact of lifestyle choices, the challenges that today's National Health Service faces are very different from those of 20 years ago. I believe we can only meet these challenges by remaining true to the values of the NHS - free at the point of use, open to all, rooted in the British belief in fairness and compassion - but I also know that no modern health service can afford to stand still."
Why do those words make my blood temperature fall? Well, there are these thoughts from GP Ann Robinson writing on Cif about primary care reform:
"I'm sure Sir [Ara] Darzi's a great knight and probably a wonderful doctor. But he's spent his life in hospitals, and primary care is a very different beast. He's apparently going to tell Gordon Brown that the answer to improving access to primary care is to let Boots, Virgin, or Tesco run the show."
OK, let's not dismiss such a notion out of hand. But then there's this news from the Mail:
"The entrepreneur who relaunched Pizza Express has been asked to run a chain of NHS cancer clinics. Luke Johnson is in talks with one of Britain's leading cancer specialists to set up a string of 'cancer express' centres that will offer patients every aspect of care from initial screening to chemotherapy."
Luke Johnson. Yep, he's the boss of Channel 4 who made such a pig's ear of handling the great Big Brother racism row. Put it this way: I don't mind eating Johnson's Sloppy Giuseppe, but I wouldn't want him inspecting me for tumours.