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The Placemat

Health & Wellness Podcasts

A lighter look at the serious business of healthcare with Dr Mike Smith, John Bennett and Julian Patterson. Regular features include the Virtue Signal of the Week and a shot in the arm from one-man vaccine Dr Pete Turton. Plus a long queue of fabulous guests with interesting things to say


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A lighter look at the serious business of healthcare with Dr Mike Smith, John Bennett and Julian Patterson. Regular features include the Virtue Signal of the Week and a shot in the arm from one-man vaccine Dr Pete Turton. Plus a long queue of fabulous guests with interesting things to say







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Rise Part 4 - Anger is an Energy

In the fourth and final episode of "Rise," titled "Anger is an Energy," Craig Gould presents a deeply emotional yet uplifting message of hope to others facing similar battles. This episode captures Craig's unwavering optimism, even as he confronts the next stage of his journey with cancer. Reflecting on his experiences, Craig shares how he transformed anger and adversity into a driving force for positivity and resilience. He discusses where to find hope in the darkest times and how to harness inner strength. Listeners will be moved by Craig's heartfelt advice and his ability to find light in the face of overwhelming challenges. This episode is not just a reflection but a beacon of inspiration, embodying the spirit of eternal optimism that Craig represents. Support the Show.


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RISE Part 3 - Rolling with the Punches

In this third episode of Rise, Craig Gould takes us through the intense and perilous journey of his second bone marrow transplant. Facing near-fatal complications and a fight for survival, Craig's story is one of extraordinary resilience. This episode sheds light on the physical and emotional challenges he endures, the impact on his mental health, and the unwavering support of his family, including his wife and children, through these testing times. Join us for a powerful narrative that showcases the human spirit's capacity to find strength and humour amidst life's toughest battles with a Christmassy happy ending. Support the Show.


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RISE Part 2 - A new normal

In "Part 2 - A New Normal," the second episode of this special podcasts season, "Rise," Craig takes us through the challenging phase of his cancer treatment, including intensive chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. This episode provides a candid look at Craig's journey towards adapting to a drastically altered way of life, a 'new normal' that tests the limits of physical and emotional endurance. It also delves into the impact of this uncertain period on his family, highlighting the delicate balance of shielding his children from the harsh realities of his condition. Join us in this deeply moving episode as he navigates the complexities of hope and resilience in the face of life's most daunting challenges. Support the Show.


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RISE Part 1 - My friend Craig

In the first episode of our Rise special episodes, a good friend Craig Gould shares the earth-shattering moment of his cancer diagnosis, its impact on his family, and the life-altering discussions with his wife. This episode not only explores their challenging journey through the NHS but also Craig’s near-death experiences and the flicker of hope that sustained them. This sets the stage for upcoming episodes, where Craig will delve into his treatments, personal battles, the power of support systems, and the invaluable lessons learned throughout his extraordinary 12-year journey. Support the Show.


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Chris Hopson, Amanda Pritchard 1.0 and The Magic Kingdom

So the boys are back in town with a brand new season of the Placemat. What have they learned during the hiatus? Well, not an awful lot to be honest. Is the new CEO of NHS England worth investing in or should you wait for the next update? Find out who Ed Waller and Ian Dodge are and the safeguards NHSE has to stop the magic being ruined in Skipton House. Find out how and if GPs would ever strike and how they might organise themselves, as long as they get backfill for it. And finally listen to Chris Hopson talk candidly about the NHS, GPs and how he once chained himself to a railing. Support the Show.


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The Placemat has a long history of correctly predicting the major events in the NHS and beyond. In this special bonus episode we showcase some of our finest and most prescient moments, from the resignation of Simon Stevens and the appointment of Amanda Pritchard, to the results of the Euro 2020 competition, the Covid pandemic, the outbreak of the first world war and Judas' betrayal of Jesus. We confidently predict that we'll be back for another season of The Placemat later in the year. The Placemat - forecasting with compassion since 3600 BC. Support the Show.


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Benny Hill, Goat Curry and Isabel Oakeshott

In the last Placemat of the season, the boys join Simon Stevens and the Financial Times for a good lunch in one of London’s grittiest districts before celebrating all that’s bravest and best about NHS chief executives. Thank you for all you do, you modest people. And thank you for letting the HSJ write about it so that we all know how unassuming you are. What would Benny Hill make of it all? We cover that too. Our resident junior doctor, Pete Turton, strikes a serious note about striking doctors. Why are they so bad at saying what they want, what they really, really want? As if all that wasn’t enough, our special guest is the outspoken journalist Isabel Oakeshott, who brings more than a touch of glamour to the proceedings. She’s not afraid to say what she thinks about the NHS either, which means you’ll all hate her. Fortunately, she doesn’t care what you think. That’s why we asked her on. Did we mention that this is the last show of the season? An exclusive account of how sad we feel about that will appear in next week’s HSJ. We’ll be back of course. Support the Show.


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A nice cup of tea and a slice of Jeremy Hunt

By the time you listen to this we may have a new secretary of state for health and social care, so hurry and grab a tasty chunk of what could be the very last Matt Hancock Time. It will be heart-breaking to say goodbye to that catchy little number, which is probably how the minister feels about his advisor. Will he cling on to take the blame for everything or will he have to take the blame for everything after he's been sacked? Who knows, but we don't let serial attention seeker and sausage wrangler Matt Hancock overshadow our other talking point of the week, the identity of the next NHS CEO. Could it be the safe but boring candidate, Amanda Pritchard, the controversial diminutive jockey and mobile phone saleswoman Dido Harding, or rank outsider and chart-topper Sir Cliff Richard? You're going to have to listen to find out. There's more of course. We have an interview with the man who looks likely to hang on to his record as the NHS's longest serving health secretary - at least for now - the right honourable Jeremy Hunt. Mr Hunt turns out to be right charming too, though he declines to be drawn on the subject of hopelessness. We also find out about the latest plan by NHS comms to celebrate our wonderful health service and say thank you to doctors and nurses for going to work and doing their jobs. And thank you NHS comms for all your warm, brown ideas. Finally, you won't want to miss the latest monologue from the laconic and deeply humble Dr Pete Turton. Thank you for everything you do, Pete. And thank you for pressing play. We love you all, but you'll forgive us if we're less demonstrative than Mr Hancock. We need to keep it legal and safe. Support the Show.


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Danny Finkelstein, Anti-Vaxxers & Revengay

Remember that film with Bill and Jeff? You know the one, the gay revenge drama set in a U-boat. No? Never mind. In the latest episode, the boys consider whether Dominic Cummings was right to compare the government’s handling of the pandemic to sci-fi movie Independence Day, if Rosemary West would have done a good job of promoting the vaccine programme and what sort of health secretary Priti Patel would make. But it’s not all doom and gloom. Baroness Harding makes a welcome return as theoretical NHS chief executive Dido Harding, and Baron Finkelstein of Pinner, the journalist and political commentator better known as Danny Finkelstein, is our special guest. Plus all your usual favourites, including Virtue Signal of the Week and Pete Turton’s mum’s second favourite hospital doctor, Pete Turton, with an in-depth investigation into the issues that really matter to clinicians. Younger, groovier fans will be delighted to hear that the talented rapper and health policy analyst Hurricane Ceasar is back with another musical reflection on the state of the NHS. We think it’s his best work since the Five Year Forward View. Warning: Contains scenes of poor taste, swearing and Andy Cowper. Support the Show.


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The Rhubarb Triangle, GP rescue and Tanni Grey-Thompson

In the latest episode of the NHS's most influential and serious podcast, hosts Mike, Julian and The Other Guy take the burning issues of the day and attempt to run with them, like three inept athletes at the start of a very bad olympic games. What has forced rhubarb got to do with integrated care in west Yorkshire? Should patient directors be allowed to run airlines and railways? Why has John got an erection in the garden and should we have one in London to honour nurses? Find out the answers to all these questions and - if you can bear it - listen to our moving appeal for adoptive homes for GPs who used to work in clinical commissioning groups. Who will pat them, untangle their cardigans and toilet train them now? On a lighter note, our special guest is Baroness Tanni Grey-Thomspon the multiple gold medal winning paralympian wheelchair racer and cross-bench peer. She tells us why she has a particular reason to be grateful to the NHS and what she has tattooed on her foot. Plus, we reveal the amazing reason why Pete Turton is still better known as a doctor than a comedian, another heartwarming Virtue Signal of the Week and a premature musical farewell to everyone's favourite five year forward viewer from everyone's favourite South African rapper, Hurricane Caesar. Support the Show.


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Line of Duty, Dido Harding Day and Dame Clare Gerada

Anyone of a sensitive disposition should avoid this episode, which features some very unlikely characters (AKA the usual presenting team), some spectacularly bad acting and some genuinely unforgivable regional accents. We don't just debate the hot topics of the moment, on The Placemat we come up with practical solutions. How do we help the British public to overcome its distaste for government corruption and cronyism? The answer that's been staring us in the face is to celebrate it properly with a National Dido Harding Day. Also guaranteed to improve the nation's wellbeing is our proposal for an updated version of It's a Royal Knockout with a special guest appearance from HRH Prince Andrew - probably not suitable listening for teenage girls. We also start a serious debate about primary care networks (PCNs), but luckily we run out of time before it has a chance to get underway. Our special guest this week is one of the country's most highly respected GPs Dame Clare Gerada, who tells us why general practice needs to be more sexy, gets a bit cross with Julian and shares her recipe for spaghetti omelettes, the comfort food that ICSs everywhere are talking about. Plus all your favourite regular features, including Dr Pete Turton, who tells us about his personal struggle with electoral dysfunction and, of course, another very fine Virtue Signal of the Week. And however tempting it is to stop listening after the first few minutes, hang on until the end for the return of our talented house rapper, Hurricane Ceasar (sic) who has produced another musical gem for your listening pleasure. Support the Show.


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Seagulls, Gangsta Rap and Dr Mark Porter

This week's episode of the NHS's favourite podcast finds Sir Simon Stevens rooting through your bins. No the head of NHS England hasn't fallen on hard times, but he is keen to keep you out of hospital by checking you are doing everything you can to stay healthy. Talking of rubbish, we also take the lid off integrated care systems: what are they and more importantly why are they? To help us explore this important topic we're joined once again by Andy Cowper. And if that weren't enough, we talk to the charming and handsome Dr Mark Porter about the NHS, his work on TV and radio and why he has signed off Twitter for the last time. Plus all your regular favourites including Virtue Signal of the Week and everyone's second favourite media doctor, Pete Turton. This weeks show also features a musical treat designed to increase our appeal to younger audiences. WARNING: May contain some bad accents, terrible acting and puerile humour. Support the Show.


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The Kyran Bracken Variant

What does the former England rugby captain Kyran Bracken know about the NHS? Refreshingly little as it turns out, but he does have some painfully funny experiences of urgent care to share. They'll have you in stitches. In a packed episode we also find out why leading doctors are accusing Covid-19 of xenophobia and why new variants of Public Health England threaten to overwhelm the NHS. Plus we apologise to Matt Hancock for failing to recognise that speed trumps perfection and try out his irreversible roadmap. Brought to you by the reliably silly presenting team of Dr Mike Smith, John Bennett and Julian Patterson, with expert help from Andy Cowper and proper doctor Pete Turton (he works in a hospital). Oh, and if you're wondering why it's called The Placemat, we finally find out this time. Support the Show.


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Loose Women, Emu and Joe Rafferty

We planned to pack this week's Placemat with hard news, insightful commentary and vital information about the NHS. Instead you'll have to settle for some moderately ill-informed banter and a few jingles. Dr Mike Smith, John Bennett and Julian Patterson discuss Matt Hancock's Chinese room service bill and the almost equally impressive cost of the test and trace system. They also answer the question on everyone's minds: which member of the Loose Women team will replace Simon Stevens as NHS chief executive? A rare moment of gravitas is provided by special guest Joe Rafferty, chief executive of the Mersey Care mental health trust, who talks about his work with the Zero Suicide Alliance. We also get a quick masterclass from health policy expert Andy Cowper on what NHS England does and why. Plus another few minutes in the company of arguably the NHS's favourite doctor Pete Turton and another enduring classic from our popular regular feature Virtue Signal of the Week. Support the Show.


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'Allo 'Allo, Phil Hammond

This week the team discuss Matt Hancock's denial that NHS staff faced shortages of PPE at the start of the pandemic. Then they go on national TV to thank each other. Our special guest Phil Hammond, Private Eye medical correspondent, comedian and doctor tells us about his own very special contribution to patient safety. Meanwhile, Dr Pete Turton travels to the end of the rainbow to find what may or may not be a pot of gold. Plus, we exploit a child actor in our popular regular slot Virtue Signal of the Week. Warning: contains references to dogs, dogging and 1980s TV sitcoms. Support the Show.


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Edna Robinson, Actually

In the first episode of The Placemat, we meet the diverse team of middle-aged, male presenters talking about the health service – which is a really terrible idea unless they’re Julian Patterson, John Bennett and Dr Mike Smith. And luckily they are. The first of what could be several episodes covers wetsuits in the boardroom, the problems caused by miserable clinicians and what Jeremy Hunt found out about the NHS after he stopped interfering with it. Also making their debut are the Virtue Signal of the Week and a guest spot by Twitter’s favourite doctor Pete Turton. And we hear from the first of our special guests. This time it’s the brilliant and provocative Edna Robinson. Support the Show.