Liam Farrell - The Tories are more attuned to Zog than GPs

Now that we are finding more and more planets in the Goldilocks zones, we might expect an alien visitor soon.

Zog will be impressed by our cultural and scientific achievements and mystified by Jedward and Jordan, and I expect Andrew Lansley will find Zog easier to understand than GPs.

The Tory government think that we are opposed to the Health Bill because we think it will affect our income, because that's what the Tories would be thinking if they were in our shoes. That our primary concern is not for ourselves but for our patients, and how their care might be affected by these changes, simply doesn't occur to them. The concept of altruism is alien to a culture of self-interest.

It's not very often that I take off my hat to the RCGP, but this time it didn't stab the rest of us in the back. Like Chapman, it spoke out loud and bold, though health minister Simon Burns' claims that its position is at odds with 'what I hear GPs up and down the country saying', which indicates that either he is selecting the people he listens to very carefully or that he hears only what he wants to hear (not that New Labour were any different; every new government looks at the NHS, vows to protect it, and then indulges in an unnecessary and expensive reorganisation, which only goes to add yet more layers of clumsy and complacent bureaucracy).

Humanity is a broad church, and mutual incomprehension is common. When I was a student at a vascular surgery clinic, one patient was an old guy with peripheral vascular disease. He was a heavy smoker, with all the usual health and socioeconomic connotations; COPD, CHD, crumbly fingernails, halitosis, shabbily dressed, imperfect personal hygiene, et al.

The consultant, in the mandatory expensive suit, shiny shoes and silk tie, was giving him a stern lecture on giving up smoking. The old guy was barely listening, and watching them, it seemed like they were practically two different species; they were barely speaking the same language.

'What do you think, Doctor Farrell?' said the consultant, with practised condescension (they must teach it at surgical school).

'I think you need an interpreter,' says I.

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