The very junior doctor will see you now

5 August 2018, 20:42 | Updated: 5 August 2018, 20:55


Here's a Brexit bonus you weren't expecting: a Health Minister has suggested that in order to address the shortage of medical staff after we leave the Evil Overlords of the Unelected Socialist Superstate, we should allow people to become doctors with less training.

That sounds a little alarming, so Stephen Barclay, who voted Leave, did not put it quite like that. He said that what he was proposing was that we should adopt “bespoke British regulations”.

“Bespoke” sounds like a good thing...luxurious, even, like a bespoke suit.

But when it is used to mean that the person seeing to you in hospital will have had less training, it does not sound like something you would buy in Saville Row, and more like an old rag lurking in the remainder bin at a charity shop.

Mr Barclay fleshed out his wizard notion by claiming that one element of a British doctor's training that we can do without, is the year of on-the-job experience that hospital staff undergo between completing medical school and qualifying as a doctor.

He said that bringing forward the point at which medics can officially qualify to practice could save millions of pounds.

I thought that the idea of leaving the EU was that the NHS would be getting more money, not having to scrabble around desperately trying to find ways to make up a shortfall. Maybe I read that sign on the bus wrong. My eyes may be failing me. Perhaps I need to see a doctor.

In this quote to Her Majesty's Daily Telegraph, which I am not making up, Health Minister Stephen Barclay said: “There are opportunities that come with Brexit - not to lower regulatory standards we want to maintain standards - to look at how we make things more bespoke to UK needs.'

He said. 'At the moment you don't qualify as a doctor when you leave medical school - you have to do a further year and that brings with it some additional costs.'

Too right it does.

I say we should go one step further – to really save money we should simply ask anyone passing a hospital if they know anything about medicine, and if they say: “well, I take a lot of drugs”, hire them on the spot, give them a white coat and let them get on with the sawing.

If you as a patient declare that you would prefer to be seen to by a medical professional with experience, well I am sorry but that is just typical defeatist, unpatriotic Remoaner talk.

I hate to lecture someone with the medical expertise that must come with being a Health Minister but junior doctors are already much less experienced than they used to be.

They used to do 100 hour weeks, now thanks to the EU directive on working hours, they are doing about half that but still graduating at the same time, which means much less time on the job.

That's not the fault of the EU, it was a completely sensible precaution on their part against doing a job when over-tired.

If you are making a cake on your 100th hour of work that week, then screwing it up is not that serious, but if you are trying to save someone's life and you haven't slept for days, then errors are a little bit more important.

That doctors are still graduating in the same time frame is the fault of the people that run this surprisingly broke country.

That we haven't extended the time it takes to become a  doctor to fit in with the sensible hours is entirely down to us.

Now this bloke wants to reduce the time on the job by a whole year on top!

And what of his history in the field of health? What experience has he brought to bear in coming to this notion?

Well, Stephen Barclay read history at Uni, became a solicitor and worked for a bank that bears his name.

Ideal material to be Minister of State for Health and Social Care. What he doesn't know about medicine, you could write on the back of a prescription pad with a paint roller.

Sarah Wollaston, on the other hand, understands very little about the medical profession, as she was only an actual GP and never worked for Barclays.

She is also in charge of the Commons Health Committee. In a delightfully pithy response to the idea put forward by Stephen Barclay she said, “'It's not a Brexit dividend to have worse training for doctors fgs. What planet are these straw clutchers on?”

I think it’s a planet called Private Medical Insurance, on which you can select the doctor of your choice from a range of those with enormous experience.

For those of us who reside on planet NHS, under pesky, interfering EU rules, medical students are required to have at least five years of medical education before they are registered.

Our glorious Brexit means that graduates who do four year medical degrees could be trying their best on you straight away.

If that's our bespoke solution, don't wait 'till we get our country back, you'd better get ill now.