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Light side: Guardian gaffe, award-winning member, servitude plans

All you need is love, allegedly
It was a somewhat uneven start by NHS England’s new whistleblowing guardian Dr Henrietta Hughes, at least in the public realm.

Her first significant press outing saw her speared by the media for purportedly suggesting doctors are too gloomy and just, well, need to get on with it and cheer up.

“If you think about that scene in Love Actually where everybody is meeting at the airport, that’s the oxytocin feeling,” she told the Times. “So wouldn’t it be better if oxytocin was the predominant neurotransmitter in the NHS?”

It would be charitable to assume that this was a rather clumsy way of highlighting low morale, and the coverage proof that one should never trust a journalist to play a straight bat.

Incidentally, though, while we wouldn’t choose Hughes’s words “trust, joy and love,” a more positive working atmosphere wouldn’t go amiss. Could hospital managers and policy-makers please be sent the memo?

A man of many talents
HCSA members are blessed with many talents, and not just in their medical field.

So it was no surprise when news reached our head office that Northern Ireland Consultant Anaesthetist Dr Mukesh Chugh had picked up an award in the Derry Journal People of the Year Awards.

The category, however, was intriguing – Contribution to Arts and Culture. It turns out that Mukesh, also an HCSA Council member, has several strings to his bow, and is a driving force behind the city’s Diwali project Festival of Lights.

The audience at the award ceremony heard that his efforts had “helped to shape an inclusive society which is respectful, embracing and reflective of the multiple identities living in Derry.” Congratulations, Mukesh, and we look forward to hearing similar stories from other HCSA members.

You heard it here first…
A few months ago this column relayed a seemingly outlandish policy proposed by think tank Civitas.

The prospect of “indentured servitude” through billing new doctors £150,000 in training costs if they exited the NHS too early appeared a mere outrider.

But in a classic case of having to eat one’s own words, it appears not – Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt unveiled plans at the Conservative conference to compel trainees to work for the NHS for four years upon graduation. If not, they may face a £220,000 charge.

That’s one way to “improve” morale…