johnminnion.com

Health

I am a fit man, but it seems I was always destined to be involved with health politics. Years before I married a GP (who is now a medical director), I was already illustrating a series of columns about health.

Nursing Times

For five years in the Eighties I did a monthly illustration for Jim Naughtie’s column in Nursing Times. I was consistently well-briefed by deputy editor Andrew Cole, which was a relief because the world of health politics was and is labyrinthine. The tensions between Thatcherism and the NHS provided a simmering drama that was ripe for illustration in the time-honoured cartoon style, rich with metaphors requiring an endless supply of labels. Labels are alright by me because I love lettering.

Health Secretary Virginia Bottomley showcases the brave new Tory world of the NHS market
The party leaders reveal their different takes on the state of the NHS.

These drawings appeared on a three-column right-hand page, but most of them are drawn four columns wide, to extend across the margin into one column of the left-hand page. You can see in each picture there’s a ‘dead area’ a quarter of the way along that gets lost in the gutter between the pages.

At regular intervals the cast of ministers changed: here the new arrivals are Health Secretary Tony Newton and Under-secretary Edwina Currie
Another new Health Secretary, William Waldegrave tries to sell the Health Market elixir
Yet another new Health Secretary: John Moore, a Thatcher loyalist
John Moore reassures the public. Meanwhile…
Party conference. Yet another new health minister, Barney Heyhoe, conjures up NHS illusions. Also appearing: M/c Norman Tebbit and Nigel Lawson the Calculating Cat.
‘The NHS is safe in our hands!’ cries the Thatcher government. Wheeeeeee!
This one was a front cover. It’s about something called Skills Mix. The weird sisters are Norman Fowler, Barney Heyhoe (Heyhoe, who he?) and of course Mrs Toil and Trouble herself.

GP Magazine

Before Nursing Times, back in 1981, I started illustrating a diary of a fictitious GP written by a real GP and published in a magazine called GP.

‘Trainer’s Diary’ written by GP John Salinsky for GP magazine. He invented a cast of characters which I had fun visualising. It was succeeded by ‘Receptionist’s Diary’ and ‘Patient’s Diary’
To my eyes now there’s far too much cross-hatching in this style – Yuk. Something I cut down to minimal over the years.

Health Service Journal

In 2001 I started doing a regular colour drawing for Health Service Journal. I liked these because they were illustrating the nitty-gritty of health politics