Camden New Journal
Publications by New Journal Enterprises
  Home Archive Competition Jobs Tickets Accommodation Dating Contact us
Camden New Journal - One Week with JOHN GULLIVER
Published: 15 February 2007
The NHS can only get better

THE National Health Service is overflowing with doctors.
No one has to wait for an operation.
And everyone is happy with the state of the NHS, and all the good works of health secretary Patricia Hewitt.
You wish.
We all know the opposite is largely true.
Most also know that in the Alice in Wonderland world of the NHS, there aren’t enough doctors and nurses.
Visit a local hospital, as I did over the weekend, and you will witness the grievous shortage of medical staff.
On Sunday evening I had to wait nearly two-and-a-half hours by the bedside of a critically ill relative before a registrar, bleeped by the nurse, turned up. She was the only weekend medical registrar on duty for the whole hospital.
Real life in the NHS can be both good and bad, and when it is bad it is really bad.
So why has the government decided to expel thousands of foreign doctors?
A High Court judge ruled on Friday that a Department of Health regulation refusing work permits for foreign doctors from outside the EU should be upheld.
Non-EU doctors are those of the dark-skinned complexion, and there are reckoned to be nearly 15,000 of them – mainly from Pakistan and India – who face expulsion.
Up to now, qualified doctors have come from abroad to staff hospitals while finishing off their training – anything up to seven or eight years. The new rule means they will have to go.
It came into existence early last year and was immediately opposed by the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPO). They campaigned, they petitioned, they demonstrated, they gained the support of more than 100 MPs, and the presidents of all the royal medical societies.
And while a judge was considering their case, propounded by a leading QC, Rabanda Singh, one of the appellants, Dr Imran Yousuf, killed himself. This was mentioned in the judge’s ruling. The BAPO hope their appeal against the High Court decision will be successful.
In the meantime, Asian doctors – and there are scores at the University London College Hospital, the Royal Free and Whittington – wait anxiously for their future to be decided.
Is it possible Patricia Hewitt will take another look at this crisis? Or does she really believe her own mantra, that the NHS is staffed to the gills and is getting better and better?

Malcolm’s booking his place in history

IT has been a busy week for historian Malcolm Holmes. The head of the Camden History Archive retired after 40-odd years on Friday – the day he headed to Buckingham Palace to receive his MBE from the Queen.
Then it was back to his office in Holborn Library, Theobald’s Road, over the weekend to clear out his desk. Monday and Tuesday were spent making food for the 50-odd guests who appeared at his retirement party on Tuesday night. Among the guests were opera buff and Hampstead and Highgate Music Festival organiser Helen Marcus, Labour councillors Roger Robinson and Brian Woodrow, and Lib Dem Flick Rea, now in charge of the Town Hall’s library policy.
Malcolm, a man of conscience, didn’t hesitate to publicly support the campaigners to halt cuts to the library service in the 1990s – and said he hoped his successors would not have to fight similar battles.
He said: “It is hard to see the value for money libraries give. People talk about the individual cost of loaning out a book but this ignores the role reference libraries play, the access to computers and other services we offer, such as Cindex.
“Access to information is crucial and unquantifiable. We need people to support libraries and it is a question of being vigilant.”
I have had many convivial moments with Malcolm over the years discussing the importance of people having a sense of history and an awareness of what previous generations have achieved – an awareness that is, unfortunately,often missing from our culture. How much do people know about those who fought the battles we are all grateful for – the battles for the vote, a free press and the welfare state? Schools in Camden should invite Malcolm to give talks on the importance of our real history.

Does MacDonald’s affair warrant such attention from the redtops?

WHAT a crazy world this is!
Why on earth were hordes of paparazzi camped on Tuesday and Wednesday (yesterday) outside the Highgate home of Sir Ken MacDonald QC, the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP)?
The Daily Mail, who broke the story that MacDonald was having an affair with a barrister, along with the camp followers from the red tops, will argue that the affair is of public interest.
But is it? In the world of celebrity journalism, spawned by the Murdoch machine in the 1980s, it can be argued, I suppose, that celebrities such as the royals and films stars who thrive on publicity, cannot complain when the media they court so much turn on them.
But, really, is MacDonald such a celebrity? If he had been caught with his fingers in the till, then he should expect the knock on the door from the paparazzi.
But what has he done? He has had an affair with a barrister, which is obviously crushing for his wife, but he has not committed a crime.
I didn’t blink when the paparazzi camped themselves outside the Kentish Town home of culture minister Tessa Jowell last year. Her husband had been accused of corruption in Italy, while at the same time her mortgage arrangements were being forensically examined in the press.
I would not have blinked either if the paparazzi had door-knocked the Attorney General Lord Goldsmith or the Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer following their mysterious decision not to prosecute anyone over alleged corruption in arms deals with the Saudi Arabians.
The last DPP to fall foul of the press, Allan Green, who lived in Primrose Hill, suffered grievously.
Not all that long after he had been charged with kerb-crawling, his wife died.

» A-Z of Theatre
» Local Reviews
» Local Listings
» West End Reviews
» West End Listings
» Theatre Tickets
» Theatre & Hotel Packages


Theatre Music
Arts & Events Attractions