Chris Lancelot: I never thought I'd yearn for the bad old days

I'm beginning to feel like King Gama in Gilbert and Sullivan's comic opera Princess Ida. The ultimate sarcastic critic, he gets his come-uppance when everyone around him is so exquisitely polite that he has nothing whatever to grumble about (and he hates it).

The GP Record, by Fran Orford www.francartoons.com
The GP Record, by Fran Orford www.francartoons.com

You see, in the past when I sat down to write this column I would simply free-associate about all the idiotic things that had happened in the preceding 10 days, and the article would more or less write itself. There was so much to criticise, it was harder to know when to stop than where to start: Choose and Book, the uploading of the summary care record without proper consent, independent treatment centres, the uneven playing field, spin, revalidation, the dismantling of MPIG ...

And now there's nothing. Nothing! GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman is even offering to work alongside the new government, helping the NHS deal with the coming economic constraints.

It's strange, unprecedented - and so peaceful, like the welcome calm after a furious storm. Of course, it could be that the new government hasn't really got its feet under the table, and hasn't yet had the opportunity to produce any seriously crazy initiatives. Alternatively, the impending financial stringencies (don't think axes, think coordinated chainsaws) may be making everyone cautious. Or perhaps being in a coalition is causing those in power to think more carefully before creating any wizard wheezes.

To be honest, I think it's all of these things put together. Forget cynicism, forget party politics - there's a real feeling that health ministers are making some thoughtful, mature decisions, taking their time to gather the facts and above all not doing something just because it will make a good headline the next day, as the last lot did.

If this is the shape of things to come, then bring it on. I can't wait for the NHS to be led by sensible people making wise decisions, a situation I haven't experienced in the entire time I've worked in the NHS. Sanity seems to have returned to the DoH. It's long overdue.

I have just one complaint: if the politicians continue in this manner it won't half make writing this column difficult. But I can hack it - in the national interest, of course.

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