A Right Charlie: Thoughts and Prayers from the GMC

Recently I received from the UK doctors’ regulatory body, the General Medical Council (GMC), a routine email. The subject was ‘Improving flexibility in postgraduate training’.

At top of the email, in purple print in a box (not even a black-bordered one), was a message from the GMC’s Chief Executive and Registrar whose name was stated as Charlie Massey.

Why do people writing in a formal business capacity feel the need to use diminutives in their names? I had to look it up to discover whether the writer was a Charlotte or a Charles – it was the latter.

This is the first part of what he said:

It was with great sadness that I learnt of the events in Manchester on the night of Monday 22 May [2017]. My deepest sympathies, thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected, as well as to their families and friends.

The ‘events’ – fortunately there was only one – refers to an atrocity when a suicide murderer detonated a bomb at a concert causing twenty-two deaths, and injuries to sixty-four people. This is horrible beyond words and one cannot but feel great sadness for the injured and their families and the bereaved.

But, I would ask, is this the right place, or the right way, for Charlie to express his  sentiments?

Does he mean that he actually got down on his knees and prayed – and if so, to what god, I wonder – for all those affected? Presumably he means, in the case of the dead and injured, that their souls may rest in peace and their bodies speedily recover, respectively, and further, that in his outpouring of prayer he entreated the divinity (who or whatever he, she or it may be) to comfort the friends and families of all those affected. Allow me to ask, how did his sympathies and thoughts go out to these unfortunate people? Were they attached to his prayers somehow or perhaps they were sent by telepathy?

After these meaningless clichés Charlie went on to say:

I particularly want to recognise the significant efforts of our emergency services personnel, hospital staff, doctors and nurses in dealing with the aftermath of such a horrific event. I have heard many accounts of doctors and other medical staff voluntarily attending hospitals in order to help patients and colleagues, and working tirelessly to treat the injured. The NHS’s response to this terrible atrocity is rightly being spoken of with great pride and deserved gratitude.

Since the GMC represents the UK medical profession, this is really self-praise. Is it up to him to ‘recognise the significant efforts…’ of people just doing their jobs? Apart from that, it’s nice to know Charlie has ‘heard many accounts of doctors…attending hospitals…’ and that ‘The NHS’s response…is being rightly spoken of with great pride…’  But by whom? He doesn’t say.

This stuff is almost as bad as The Queen, God save her, visiting some of the injured in hospital and saying to one young woman, Millie, ‘And you had enjoyed the concert, presumably?’

Mrs Lincoln must be turning in her grave.

Doubtless in due course the Mayor of Manchester will give a speech to commemorate the dead, praise the selfless efforts of the emergency and medical services and bestow medals in recognition of their skills and devotion.

In the meantime, perhaps Charlie could spare us this patronising guff.

© Gabriel Symonds

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