*ducks for cover as medics from this other place somewhere out there throw poisoned syringes*
World-class facilities. Great lecturers (with great-sounding names--loved your lectures Dr Gay, Dr Rubery and Prof S.O.Sage!). Highly trained graduates (well. uhm. I read SOME lectures. sometimes.) Flexible training methods. Wonderfully witty local people:
(okay so this had nothing to do with the medical school, but I couldn't resist.)
So you step into this wonderland of academia with its ancient buildings and soaring spires, and you walk into the medical school and see men looking as ancient as Merlin with beards rivaling Albus Dumbledore's (and facial hair rivaling Albert Einstein's) walking around in white coats just OOZING knowledge out of their pores. Then you see two such white-coated figures walking past with glasses as thick as some of the bones they're studying, throwing big genius-ey words like "juxtaglomerular" and "metacarpophalangeal", and one of them turns around and you realise they're the STUDENTS. (well, the crazy ones anyway. Normal humans like me would have either fallen asleep, left early or not shown up at all.) World-class indeed.
Then as you're walking back to your bed-and-breakfast (all the time thanking your stars you don't study here, if you know what's good for you), you pass by a newspaper stall and see this:
What? Can it BE? Such a fantastic medical school, yet such a crappy local health service? Impossible, you say! After all, this is CAMBRIDGE, ancient seat of learning, bastion of education, centre of the academic universe! (okay, maybe just a large star. but a VERY large one.)
Unfortunately it's true, not only for Cambridge but for the rest of Britain. The National Health Service (NHS), once one of the world's more efficient public health services and a resounding success for the country, is now quickly turning into possibly among the greatest embarrasments the UK have ever seen. Deeply in debt (between 600 and 700 million pounds predicted for the past financial year), NHS funds have been mismanaged for years now, resulting in outstanding debts and the ensuing chaos of job cuts and closures that the Government will inevitably slap with a convenient 'reform' label. So what's a Government under siege for intorducing reform after reform and reversing merger after merger to do? Why, take a cue from a government they helped to overthrow, of course, and put out an Iraqi information minister of their own:
The Rt Hon Patricia Hewitt MP, Secretary of State for Health, after watching repeated broadcasts of Baghdad Bob broadcasting during the Iraqi War saying "I triple guarantee you, there are no American soldiers in Baghdad", decided to make public her esteemed opinion that the NHS had had "its best year ever". Below I publish a picture of this great defender of the public health sector, just so you can all recognise this shining stalwart of leadership and wisdom:
But of course, talk alone can't solve the problem. Action must be taken, swift decisive action! But WHAT action? Of course, since the Labour government's previous solutions to fix the problem were SO staggeringly mind-blowingly successful, the only obvious solution would be to continue introducing MORE reforms. Ms Hewitt announced this to healthcare workers last April and promply received this fantastic response from fed-up disgruntled nurses. The Royal College of Nursing predicts that another 13000 jobs will be axed, in addition to the 7000 already laid off.
Of course, Ms Hewitt, in all her infinite wisdom, realises that these are not the problems caused by Labour government reforms, but blames poor financial management by a small proportion of health trusts for the current debts. Among the trusts she has levelled her trained eyes on is the Cambridge City Primary Care Trust (PCT), which registered a deficit of 13.7 million pounds. Hence, Ms Hewitt's solution for her alma mater (she is an alumnus of Newnham College Cambridge) is to chop, chop, chop: Brookfields Hospital is to lose 3 wards, Addenbrooke's Hospital is to lose 22 million pounds from it budget, and many NHS operations in Cambridge are to be reclassified as "low priority" (which is basically Governmentspeak for "they will not be done"). The PCT itself, of course, in all its infinite Hewitt-granted wisdom, is refusing to make public details of the proposed cuts. Members of the PCT Board are not elected and are not answerable to the people. Cambridge MP David Howarth said, "The public has a right to know what is being done". But of course, David Howarth is a Liberal Democrat, and hence a blithering idiot who knows nothing. To the Labour Government anyway. Patricia Hewitt, on the other hand, with her background in Small Businesses and E-Commerce, is perfectly qualified to tell the medical profession what to do. One wonders what her next big idea to save the NHS is. Probably fire all the male doctors in the country.
(thanks to DougWeb for the brilliant Hewitt image.)