There are times when the Conservatives will hand what could almost be described as a gift to those seeking to point out their flaws (although perhaps one from a distant relative who doesn't particularly like you). Recently this has come in the form of being so transparently unpleasant, as to make finding something to write about them feel almost too easy.
To listen to the news seeping out from the Conservative Party conference just over a week ago was akin to being a park keeper on a zero-hours contract, who hears that a trio of Alsatians with gastrointestinal problems and non conscientious owners has moved into the area. You could be assured there would be plenty to keep your hands full, but this wouldn't necessarily be something to be relished.
It's news to no one that they announced plans to name and shame organisations with high numbers of foreign employees, but were quickly forced to backtrack on the proposal. This was only after many pointed out such plans put them in somewhat less than illustrious company. The have backtracked in all cases that is, other than the NHS, having already announced their distaste that 25% of doctors are from overseas.
Theresa May has said that foreign doctors will be welcome in the NHS until 2025. That is like going to a dinner party and introducing your significant other as "my current partner" (apologies, my reference points are nothing if not bourgeois). Essentially saying that this person will do, for now, until of course someone better comes along.
Both Theresa May have and Jeremy Hunt have expressed a desire to see more British born doctors in the NHS. Presumably this is because of the particularly British care such individuals are able to provide. The sort of care served up with a slice of lemon drizzle cake in a marquee on a village green by a respectable young thing from the home counties in gingham scrubs.
To take the jobs back from these interlopers, Jeremy Hunt has announced plans to train an extra 1,500 doctors per year and has pledged £100 million to do so. It has been pointed out on social media however, that this would fall significantly short of the required figure. It apparently costs the taxpayer of £220,000 to train a doctor. At least that is the amount the health secretary quoted to justify plans to penalise doctors who wish to leave the NHS to work abroad. 1,500 times £220,000 is a lot more than £100 million in case you were wondering.
Inspiration for punishing doctors who want to pursue a better life elsewhere comes from a tactic employed by the air force. I would argue, that when a profession supposedly as coveted as medicine has such a retention crisis as to resort to the tactics of the military to make people stay, you have something of a morale problem on your hands. Surely then, recruiting even more British candidates of a sufficient quality is likely to be a tall order?
It's often said that immigrants do jobs that British people don't want to. Medicine is no different. Although allowed to work in the UK, many foreign doctors aren't eligible to take up training positions. This leaves them in what you might call in (arguably in poor taste) dead end service provision roles in less salubrious locations. In their absence, presumably the government would inflict this relatively grim future on the new wave of British born graduates (given that they aren't about to magic up a load of new consultant positions to progress to). To be fair, based on recent evidence, this would be right up their street.
At this point it's in no way surprising to hear that the Conservatives have come up with another half baked plan for the future of the NHS. This is of course a plan that is likely to make life worse for all involved, and they have committed early doors to underfunding it. The only hope is that someone will produce an accurate prospectus for the new university applicants. The photos would depict a greying junior medic in their fifties with no hope of progression or escape, performing their umpteenth rectal examination of the day and smiling grimly for the camera. Then at least everyone will know what they're getting themselves in to.