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Monkey nuts

Tony Blair’s 10 Downing Street web site is claiming that some spurious target or other, for the National Health Service to recruit an extra 2,000 General Practitioners, has almost been reached. That is, according to some figures produced, and I use the word advisedly, by the UK government’s Department of Health.

However, I have just watched a hilarious piece on Channel4′s News programme where the Royal College of General Practitioners challenged how these good news figures had actually been arrived at? I felt like phoning the programme up and telling its producer about a civil service game called Hard Target, which involves a pack of marked cards, a set of rusty darts, and a small bag of pistachio nuts. But I relented and listened on.

With an increasing number of GP surgeries refusing new patients and an increasing shortage of GPs around the country, for instance in Barnsley, as mentioned by Channel4 tonight, and even in relatively well-funded towns in Scotland, the Royal College puts the alleged increase in GPs at something more like 200, rather than 2,000, and if you take into account the increasing number of GP retirements and the increase in part-time GP working, the full-time figure actually shrinks, in real world terms, to something more like 26.

So, well worth increasing the spend on the NHS then, to nearly one hundred billion pounds, from about sixty billion. I know that’s almost £1.54 billion pounds per extra GP, but hey, is it really possible for us heartless libertarians to put a monetary price on the sanctity of human life and its guardians in the general practitioner service? Shame on us.

Which leaves me in a dilemma? Do I believe the UK government figures or do I believe the ones from the Royal College of General Practitioners set at about 1% of the government’s own claims? It is a toughie, I will admit, but you know me. I always believe everything the government says on principle. For where would civilisation be if we ever lost trust in the government?

I am an Aardvark.

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