Daily catch-up: NHS markets, phone hacking and doing the Strand

Plus the patent pending (in the sense that it hasn’t been applied for) Rentoul daily opinion poll tracker

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The Independent Online

1. Two colleagues, Steve Richards and Mary Dejevsky, wrote yesterday about the NHS. (Above: Ed Miliband interviewed by Jon Snow in front of a life support machine for Channel 4 News in September.) I don’t disagree with them in particular, but would just like to read something on the failings of the NHS that recognises that it is simply no use relying on the public duty of NHS staff as the driving force of improvement.

I accept that there are problems with money following patients and internal markets, but until someone suggests a different way of incentivising efficiency and decent patient service (Dejevsky would like NHS staff who smiled once in a while), I would suggest we concentrate on making market forces work better in the NHS instead of on handwringing and wishful thinking.

2. Two polls published yesterday, one of them by mistake, apparently. Opinium published a poll about reasons for voting and not voting for parties, which had also asked about voting intention, which could be worked out from the cross-breaks, and YouGov. Anyway, the average of the two was:

Lab 33½%, Con 33%, UKIP 16½%, Lib Dem 6%, Green 5%

3. Quote of the Day: “Wanting to meet an author because you like his work is like wanting to meet a duck because you like pâté.” Margaret Atwood. (Via A Word A Day.)

4. The News Machine. Terrific book by James Hanning, deputy editor of The Independent on Sunday, about phone hacking. I would have said it was a subject in which I am uninterested, but I downloaded the book and read the first two chapters straight away without stopping. It is just £2.39 on Kindle.

5. Personal news. I am looking forward to working with Jon Davis and my fellow visiting professors at the new Strand Group at King’s College, London: Andrew Adonis, Sir Nicholas Macpherson, Sir Kevin Tebbit and William Keegan, along with David Willetts, whose appointment was announced last month. We hope to do everything we did at the Mile End Group at Queen Mary and more. Here’s the video.

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6. And finally, thanks to Chris Heaton-Harris for this, via Harry Sellars:

“Is it true that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, or is it just one of Granny’s myths?”

Robert Cubitt thinks it is true:

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away, but only if if well aimed.”

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