> As part of our next ESC Workshop I've been asked to do the 'Parkinson'
> (or is that the 'Fogarty' thing) with Professor Sir George Alberti.
Actually, I was compared with Wogan at the time, rather than Parky, but
who's complaining! But seriously, we were the first wave of the
collaborative, Simon, and we knew precious little about Alberti at the time,
or rather, about his views on emergency services. It was early March, and by
the end of that month I had noted that Alberti appeared to be defending the
farcical "target week" where every trust miraculously hit well over 90%.
Since then he's predicted, or rather "promised", a 20% reduction in A&E
attendances over the next two years! He came out with this gem in July, just
as our trust was reeling from its 13% increase in attendances over the
previous six months. So, with hindsight, I perhaps gave Sir George an easy
time of it; we had some pleasant banter rather than any genuine "Paxman
style" interrogation, which I agree would be very much in order towards the
end of the collaborative, just as you have described!
It was a rather surreal week, I recall. The "famous" Finlayson and Fogarty
letters had just been published in the BMJ causing quite a stir in the
national press and, although I'd never met Alberti until the foot of the
stage that morning, he'd already been grilled by the press the previous day
on the contents of my, and Bruce's, BMJ letters! But neither Alberti nor I
wanted any "stage management" so we agreed not to discuss anything until
going "live" on the stage (in front of an audience of 500!). Apart from my
own interview format, I also used "planted" audience questions, which
livened things up a lot, but you've got to choose your questions, and your
questioners, carefully (I could only use half a dozen from around 40
"applications"). It's quite a challenge to ensure the planted questions fit
seamlessly within the overall structure of your interview, not to mention
fine-tuning your conversation so that it keeps going just until the
microphone reaches some inaccessible part of the audience!
So yes, give him a hard time this time around, Simon, I was much too easy on