The waiting list for local urodynamics is over 11 months, for non-urgent orthopaedics over a billion years. GPs are busting a gut to switch patients to the cheapest possible drugs and whatever money we do have is thanks to a handsome subvention from Britain. Yet according to a letter we received today, the Department of Health for Northern Ireland has commissioned a complementary therapy pilot project, which will run well into next year.
Spending money on treatments that don't work (TTDWs) is bad enough. Spending money on pilot projects for TTDWs is even worse, but spending other people's money on pilot projects for TTDWs is both ludicrous and perverse.
To make it look like they're being scientific, the letter tells us that they have also commissioned an 'independent' audit of the project. Is that rigorous or what?
Don't bother, I can tell them exactly what the audit will say; it'll say how much the patients enjoyed the complementary therapy, it was so relaxing, Smurfs on the wallpaper and all that.
I also enjoy having oil rubbed into my back by a good-looking woman, however I would not consider it a medical procedure, nor would I expect the NHS to pay for it and as a result have some poor old pensioner miss out on a hip replacement and suffer another year of pain and immobility.
They have also enclosed a DVD about the project. You've heard of hard-hitting, analytical documentaries; well, this is just the opposite, which the letter explains 'helps to show how people are valuing the service and access to a new kind of medicine'.
Listen pal, or whoever up there in the department has even the most basic knowledge of medicine or some common sense, it is not a new kind of medicine!
In fact, homoeopathy, aromatherapy, iridology and their sidekicks are not even any kind of medicine. They are a festering pile of garbage, inflicted on the gullible and the vulnerable by those who should know better.
It should be the department's job to protect patients from these people instead of colluding with them.
And for the last insult they had the infernal cheek to tell us that the DVD was funded 'through voluntary contributions, there was no cost to the NHS'.
Not like the cost of the pilot scheme, the independent audit, or the big conference that launched it, obviously.
Dr Farrell is a GP from County Armagh. Email him at GPcolumnists@haymarket.com.