Liam Farrell: Bare-faced cheek of new NHS boss

At this time of year #tipsfornewdocs is trending again on Twitter, along the way giving the public the impression that patients will be dying like flies over the next few weeks due to the influx of newly qualified doctors. Most of the tips are admirable, even if they may induce gagging:

  • Take time to introduce yourself; they will appreciate it.
  • Enjoy yourself! It's a wonderful, challenging, interesting time.
  • Don't be worried about asking for help. No matter what level we are, we all need help from time to time.
  • Some tips are more honest: Be a whistleblower; go on, wreck your career.

Noblesse oblige and all, I felt the obligation to make my own modest contributions, which I hope will be genuinely helpful to our young colleagues:

  • Join the Foreign Legion; you'll kill fewer people.
  • Never let the enemy know what you are thinking.
  • After a patient dies, always tie their shoelaces together. When the zombie apocalypse comes, it will be hilarious.

And having coined many an empty phrase myself, I recognise one also. When I read a quote from NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens ('We are guests in the lives of the people we serve'), I almost admired the bare-faced cheek. Now, I have nothing against Simon; according to Wikipedia he was 'president of UnitedHealth Europe and moved on to be chief executive officer of UnitedHealthcare medicare and retirement and then president, global health, and UnitedHealth group executive vice president of UnitedHealth Group', most of which I barely understand, but it doesn't sound like he's been on the coalface looking after patients.

Because it's an ill-mannered guest who would cut resources so that services are poor, then accuse the NHS of providing poor services, then flog services to private firms.

As every screenwriter can tell you, action reveals character. Words are cheap, and trite platitudes penned by a speechwriter are even cheaper.

  • Dr Farrell is a GP from County Armagh. Follow him on Twitter @drlfarrell.

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