Editorial Monday 25 April 2016: The revolution will not BMA televised, as the junior doctors' dispute turns hysterical
I have previously borrowed the words of a doctor of divinity, Hunter S Thompson, to describe health policy silliness: "when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro".
The 'junior' doctors' dispute has long since passed the point of mere workaday weirdness.
I have chronicled some of it here and here and here and here and here and here, concluding here on the NHS' real deficit: one of trust.
Colleagues at the British Medical Journal commissioned me to write a couple of political analysis pieces about the strike, which are here and here.
As well as those, I wrote a short, satirically-framed blog for the BMJ, opening with the following scenario:
"As another bout of industrial action concludes in the junior doctors’ dispute, the BMA junior doctors’ committee leadership has won outright. Their leaders were carried in triumph down Whitehall, celebrating Jeremy Hunt’s resignation as Health Secretary over the issue. '#Jerexit' deepened the Government’s split over Europe, and a subsequent wave of defections to UKIP destroyed the Conservative majority in Parliament. There is speculation that Her Majesty may ask JDC leader Johann Malawana to form the next government."
Imagine my surprise to find this afternoon that someone speaking on behalf of Jeremy Hunt, or claiming to (although not, I am told, his very special advisors), briefed BBC News that the BMA junior doctors' leaders are trying to bring down the government.
The revolution will not BMA televised
This is, in both the literal and metaphorical senses of the word, hysterical.
I'm going to have to register a copyright infringement claim here. Health policy and politics are starting to imitate my satire.
(A hearty plug for the hilarious 'Jeremy Hunt's Diary' by NHS Networks' resident genius Julian Pattinson.)
The sensible proposal to stop strikes and trial the new contract by Labour's shadow health lead Heidi Alexander, backed by the SNP's Dr Philippa Whitford, Lib Dem Norman Lamb and ex-Conservative health minister Dr Dan Poulter was swiftly rejected by Jeremy Hunt as "opportunism".
Meanwhile, Tavistock Square Emergency Plumber and HSJ colleague Shaun Lintern has got the inside leak on JDC leaders' consideration of an indefinite strike.
Imagine if that were to coincide with something really serious, like private-equity-backed Four Seasons Healthcare becoming unable to refinance its £525 million debt secured against its 470 care homes (total residents: 20,000), thus becoming insolvent.
It would make recent arguments over nationalising steel firms look trivial, wouldn't it?