Shropshire Star

Peter Rhodes on school-leaver doctors, missile escalation and a day in the life of a polling station

School leavers may be able to start training as doctors or nurses immediately after their A-levels. With glorious understatement, some senior doctors have branded the idea as “risky.”


Damn right. How would you feel about having an injection by someone who was recently flicking ink pellets and making up excuses for not doing his homework? Someone who, when a patient's notes go missing, will claim that his dog ate them?

And yet it's hard to criticise this form of training because it's exactly how I, and many of my generation, were trained as journalists, starting at 18 or even 16.

Formally it was known as indentureship but everyone called it on-the-job training. You started with simple jobs, observed by a senior reporter, and progressed to more complex journalism until, after three years, you qualified and got a certificate and an extra three quid per week. Admittedly, a teenage doctor can do rather more harm than a teenage reporter but, in its own little way, landing your editor with your first writ for defamation carries a frisson of terror.

Research is still going on into the effects of compulsory photo ID at the recent council elections. For an insight into what happened inside the polling stations, I'm grateful to a reader who has served as an election official for 50 years. He writes:

“Throughout the entire 15 hours of the voting day virtually every single voter appeared not only happy, but in many cases actually proud, to produce the required pic and to predictably joke about the appalling likeness, etc. This does not suggest widespread disgruntlement with the requirement and no suggestion whatsoever of people prepared to be turned away to make a point.”

If that's a typical polling station experience, expect photo ID to be here to stay.

Britain is supplying formidable Storm Shadow cruise missiles to Ukraine. They have a range of 200 miles and can punch through yards of concrete. But if, for the sake of argument, a British missile brings down Putin's bridge to Crimea and Putin responds by using a Russian missile to bring down our Severn Bridge, what do we do then (apart from taking the A40 via Gloucester)? I like to think greater brains than mine are working on this one.