Sunday, 22 February 2015

Money, money, money - is it easy to forget that it’s always sunny in a rich man’s world?

On the 1st November 1976, the Swedish pop group Abba released their song Money, Money, Money. The song was a No 1 hit in Australia, Belgium, France, West Germany, Holland, New Zealand and Mexico. It only reached the number 3 spot in the UK.  The post 40 year old generation possibly will only know the song from the 2008 film, Mama Mia. I heard the song being played as background to a piece on the radio dealing with tax avoidance. The chorus of: 'money, money, money; must be funny in the rich man’s world' being used to introduce and accompany the piece.

But actually the song tells a rather sad, some might even say poignant story of a woman who, despite her hard work, is barely able to earn enough to keep the wolf from the door, and sees the solution as finding a wealthy man to share her life. Most people don’t realise this is what the song is about. It has a catchy tune, easy to follow along chorus line and its one of those songs that when you hear it, it sticks in your mind for hours!

Money and memory featured in many ways last week. It was great to hear yesterday that the UK government announcement to make £300m available for research into dementia. Memory problems are just one of the problems people living with dementia face. Understanding how this effects people will feature as part of the drive to ensure that all staff working in the NHS gain a better understanding of those living with dementia. This new money comes on top of a multi-million pound fund to be established aimed at creating an international research fund for the development of new drugs to slow down the onset of dementia or even deliver a cure by 2025. Mr Cameron (the UK Prime Minster) may well have forgotten that it can take between 15-25 years to develop, test and licence a new drug.

Possibly less positive news last week was the report about the Dementia Identification Scheme, an enhanced service, that was launched in October 2014. As part of the enhanced service, GP practices are expected to offer 'at risk' patients a dementia assessment. 'At risk' patients are those over 60 years old living with long term conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, obesity or diabetes, patients over 40 years old with Down’s syndrome, and patients over 50 with learning disabilities. The scheme means that GP's earn an extra £55 for every extra patient they diagnose with dementia. This somewhat controversial enhanced service was criticised by many care givers and health care professionals as they felt the scheme would divert resources away from those patients who had already received a diagnosis.

The pay of GP's is very difficult to ascertain. Salaried GP's, can earn up to £80k a year, whereas partner GP salaries for those that actually own the practice, can be much higher, with nearly 20% of GP's earning more than £200k a year. I couldn't find out this morning what the favourite car of the GP is, but its likely that you will find a handsome collection of top end cars parked in the 'reserved for the doctor' slots at your local surgery. And before anyone cries hypocrite in my direction, I am happy to admit I love driving my 6 month old Jaguar XF Sport.

I mention cars because interestingly, and for the second year running, GP's and consultant hospital doctors are once again in the top two places for being the worst ever drivers. GP's are 100 times more likely to cause an 'at fault' accident than a building society clerk. Annually, 333 GP's in every 1000 make an ‘at fault’ claim. The top ten worst drivers are all healthcare professionals. Number 3 in the top ten last year were Clinical Psychologists, who as a group seem to have improved their driving as this year they were listed at number 10. Now don’t get me wrong, I wouldn't want to suggest there’s any kind of connection between the expense of driving (and sometimes crashing) top end cars and GP's finding new ways to increase their income, but as Benny and Bj√∂rn might have said, money money, money, [its] always sunny, in a rich man’s world.