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Is obeying the law bad for your health?


Blog headlines

  • Social distancing the Longstay way
    27 March 2020

    We asked Sir Trevor Longstay, chief executive of the NHS Blithering University Hospitals Foundation Trust and commander-in-chief of the Blithering Covid-19 Taskforce to give us some practical tips on social distancing. Here he shares some of the lessons learned over four decades of leadership – not all of them relevant or epidemiologically sound

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    12 March 2020

    The government has issued a stark warning that stocks of paradigms and other basic supplies could soon run out if NHS managers continue panic-buying.

  • Matt Hancock’s diary – a week of levelling up
    27 February 2020

    Taking personal charge of global pandemics is one of the perks of this job. I’m referring to coronavirus, of course, and I’m booked to appear on Sky News to talk about it.

  • Exceeding your expectations: the Blithering staff survey
    20 February 2020

    Staff at NHS Blithering feel listened to “at least once a year” and report that their expectations of taking part in surveys have been “met” or “exceeded” in the past 12 months.

  • Martin Plackard’s week: Tuesday
    7 February 2020

    The second in our series of privileged insights to the working life of Martin Plackard, the NHS’s most gifted communicator

  • Martin Plackard’s week: Monday
    30 January 2020

    First in an occasional series of glimpses into a typical week in the life of Martin Plackard, the NHS's most influential strategic communicator

  • A quick guide to quick guides
    24 January 2020

    Few of us have time for long documents that take ages to read or a lot of expertise to put together. That’s where quick guides come in.

  • Towards people and impact
    17 January 2020

    This week the Royal Pharmaceutical Society advertised for a head of engagement and belonging. Such titles can be controversial – but not for Martin Plackard, whose CV features a number of leadership roles in the fields of impact, euphemism management and talent delivery.

  • National log-in reset will change everything
    9 January 2020

    This week the Department of Health and Social Care announced a £40m investment to make it easier to log-in to NHS computers. It’s a laudable aim, akin to fitting a keyless entry system to a Ford Anglia to make it go faster.

  • Martin Plackard’s top tips for making a difference in 2020
    3 January 2020

    NHS Blithering’s Martin Plackard MBE was recognised in the new year honours list for services to strategic communications and meaningful engagement. Here he gives his top tips for others who hope to make a very real difference to people, communities and their own career prospects in 2020.

  • My amazing Twitter year – by Matt Hancock
    20 December 2019

    It's been a fantastic year on social media for the secretary of state for health and the other thing. Here it is in very nearly his own words

  • Sustainability and transformation parties: mandatory guidance
    5 December 2019

    As Christmas fast approaches, system leaders are getting ready for so-called sustainability and transformation parties, the highlight of the year for those who enjoy kinky integration with strangers.

  • All the latest health policy news from the general **** campaign
    29 November 2019

    Because purdah is still in force, this week’s **** has been heavily redacted. Here are the main parties’ plans for government as set out in their manifestos. A full unexpurgated version can be obtained from **** Party HQ.

  • New outfit more splendidly integrated than ever
    21 November 2019

    The emperor has announced plans for yet another new outfit, amid claims that this one will be even more splendid than the last.

  • Purdah – guidance for professionals
    15 November 2019

    After Christmas and the HSJ Awards, purdah is Martin Plackard’s favourite time of year.

  • Tools honoured in Blithering awards
    8 November 2019

    The Blithering Celebrating Success Awards are always eagerly anticipated. Every November, they recognise the commitment and dedication of people who put other people at the heart of everything they do before going the extra mile in their shoes. They also reflect the passionate belief of the organisers, Spume Media, in an awards-led approach to healthcare improvement science.

  • Provisional findings of the interim report
    31 October 2019

    The programme delivery group at One Blithering, the emergent NHS Blithering integrated care system, has published an interim report containing the provisional findings of a year-long strategic review.

  • Toast
    25 October 2019

    "The biggest complaint about the NHS which is beloved by everyone is about the food, and the biggest complaint about the food is about the lack of toast.”

  • Plackard’s misdirection and a victory for old power
    17 October 2019

    In which no one can find Plackard's signposting event, an old foe returns from his past and Sir Trevor Longstay loses interest in compassion

  • Sir Trevor defends revolving door
    4 October 2019

    Sir Trevor Longstay has hit out at proposals designed to make it harder for failed NHS directors to get new jobs with no questions asked.

Friday, 13 September 2019

Is obeying the law bad for your health?

(With apologies to Private Eye’s A Doctor)

As a doctor I’m often asked:  Is obeying the law bad for you? The short answer is yes and no. This handy symptom-checker can help you to decide whether a short course of flouting could work for you or would do more harm than good.

Are you experiencing difficulty passing constitutional solids? Is all the pushing and grunting getting you nowhere,  leaving you exhausted and embarrassed and making everyone else a bit fed-up?

Do those close to you worry about the amount of time you spend with your trousers round your ankles?  

Is your desire to “open the rear bomb doors over Brussels” alienating your loved ones or taking a toll on your mental health?

Have you tried proroguing Parliament, calling for a general election or threatening to die in a ditch?

If none of these traditional remedies is working, you may need something stronger. I sometimes prescribe a controlled dose of disobedience. Few things have such a liberating effect on the bowels. Only lying to the monarch comes close.

Helping yourself

Breaking the law can provide immediate relief, but it’s not for everyone.

You should only try it if

  • You’re the prime minister
  • You’ve run out of ideas
  • Dominic Cummings says it’s OK
  • You have a large supply of capable underpants.

Possible complications include loss of credibility, long-term constitutional damage, food, fuel and medicines shortages and civil unrest. But you need to weigh these against the health benefits of traditional values, ration books and powdered egg.

The important thing to remember is that no two cases are the same or, as I like to put it, it’s one rule for you and another for everyone else.

In the right circumstances breaking the law may be effective, particularly if the individual has built up a resistance to the truth, has tried everything else or has a history of doing as he likes.

The evidence suggests that for most “ordinary” people, it normally results in loss of mobility and a spell of remedial treatment at one of Her Majesty’s long-stay clinics.

Always seek advice from your GP if you’re thinking about taking the law into your own hands.

Health editor: Julian Patterson


Anonymous says:
Sep 13, 2019 03:10 PM

I really don't think this is the platform to voice your own personal opinions and views on the matter tongue in cheek or not. Personally, I think its pretty unprofessional and an abuse of the Health editors position to put such a bias one sided argument based purely on your own view to the 133,970 members on NHS networks. Will you be posting an article from a member of the NHS that does agree with the policy of the government who maybe doesn't have a personal agenda to derail Brexit?

georgewebb70 says:
Sep 13, 2019 03:27 PM

Back from the dead! I agree 100% with previous comments It is this sort of stupidity that has brought us to this situation. Not up to the standard I expected from you Julian. Either put up or shut up. I am educated enough and experienced enough to have my own opinion without all the angst, fake anger and lack of sincerity from so called professional elites. The majority would not survive in proper jobs or be appointed in the first place.

Julian Patterson
Julian Patterson says:
Sep 13, 2019 03:51 PM

Hi both - appreciate both your commments. Particularly nice to hear from you again, George.
I anticipated the "NHS not an appropriate platform" criticism. Fair enough, but any such professional failing pales into insignificance besides the situation we find ourselves in. As for the argument of bias, I wasn't aware that there were still sides in politics any more.
Best wishes to you both.

Anonymous says:
Sep 13, 2019 04:08 PM

But Julian your not in politics your the health editor of a government sanctioned web service. Also governed by NHS Digital as you are part of the NHS.UK infrastructure. Unless these are the actual (on the record views) of NHS Networks. To quote "NHS Networks is managed by an NHS IT provider, Leicester Health Informatics Service, and runs in a secure UK based server environment complying with NHS Digital technical and information governance requirements."
Further more you have anticipated criticism over your article, yet still proceeded to publish with your own personal prejudice and opinion. Your the editor of an NHS service not the Mail on Sunday. I think this is a clear demonstration you are not fit for post and Leicester Health Informatics Service should be looking into this matter. Interesting to see the views of No10 on reading this article.

Mike Barnett
Mike Barnett says:
Sep 13, 2019 04:38 PM

This is just my opinion, but anyone who posts anonymously is probably either an arse or a wimp. And anyone who posts anonymously along the lines of the tit above, snidely criticising the judgement of an organisation for continuing to employ one of the few sane voices in the health service commenteriat deserves nothing but the utmost contempt. Consider it bestowed, you utter div.

Lynne Chellingworth
Lynne Chellingworth says:
Sep 14, 2019 11:21 AM

Anonymous 1 - I think this is definitely the platform to share an opinion. It’s just that you don’t agree with the genius Julian. If you were a remain voter, you would be delighted to read the amusing and astute puncturing of the ‘leave’ arguments.
Anonymous 2 - please learn to use apostrophes properly and then we might feel able to read and understand your comment.

Colin Hingston
Colin Hingston says:
Sep 17, 2019 10:33 AM

Julian's satire is admirable, though I disagree politically. After our Remain parliament and its bent referee have all-but sabotaged the referendum result, any 'law-breaking' by Boris is looking a bit subjective,and even commendable.

Mike Barnett
Mike Barnett says:
Sep 17, 2019 12:43 PM

Hi Colin, where do you stand on telling fibs and exaggeration when campaigning for, let's say, a once in a generation referendum? And any thoughts on reconsidering decisions in the light of experience and evidence? And finally... Do you, like me, regret very much the awful impact of polarised politics, prompting reasonable people to take positions in public discourse which in more sensible times would have been almost laughably blinkered? I count myself in this category by the way.

Anonymous says:
Sep 17, 2019 01:42 PM

Mike Barnett, it is my decision to comment anonymously, not yours. You are unaware of the intentions behind why I may wish to comment in this manor, nor frankly is it any of your concern. If you object so emphatically to readers who wish comment anonymously then I suggest you lobby the administrators of this website to remove such a facility allowing users to do in the first place. However, as it is your intention to be offensive and insulting, it is considerably easier for you to cowardly attack a faceless commentator rather than attack direct a named commentator and may wish for it to remain. Therefore, your opinion is completely irrelevant as is your utter contempt.

Lynne Chellingworth, it is no concern either of yours as to whether I chose to remain or leave. Nor does it reflect in the basis for my objection to the post in the first place. I would love to of heard you respond and puncture some of the addressing points I had put forward in my retort, instead you choose to declare your infatuation for the editor and make no valid point at all. As to the simply immature comment about improper use of apostrophes, to which do you refer? More importantly as you state you are unable to read or understand my comments because of this, I don’t see how you can lay statement as you will be unaware of what we are discussing in the first place.

Quite childish, unprofessional and simply petty I must say from the pair of you.

Julian, I still reside in the fact that this is a heavily biased impartial article and does not belong on such a platform.

Julian Patterson
Julian Patterson says:
Sep 19, 2019 01:04 AM

Anon. My preference is always for readers with an infatuation for the editor. Setting that prejudice aside, I agree that I do not belong on any platform, ever.

Chris Jackson
Chris Jackson says:
Sep 19, 2019 10:27 AM

Thanks for making [most of] us smile week after week, keep up the good work!

Julian Patterson
Julian Patterson says:
Sep 19, 2019 11:09 AM

Thank you, Chris