Ad-hoc Cabinet Meeting on the future
of the NHS (September 2003)
An entirely fictitious story based on
reports and an interview with the Health Secretary on Radio 4
Well now we're all here folks, I'd like
to welcome you all to this special ad-hoc meeting. The Boss will
be here in a minute but he can't stay long as he has to get his
story straight for that annoying enquiry about you know what
The door flies open and the Boss enters
smiling from ear to ear.
I was just saying you can't stay long
No problemo Deputy PM I've managed to
sort out that little contre-temps and I won't have to bare my
That's simply wizard PM. You must really
have a charmed existence!
I won't argue that point Alistair. My
aura is something really special.
Why are we here PM?
Didn't I say Deputy PM.. well I'd like
to tell you all about this wizard idea one of my chums
sorree advisors, has come up with. I asked him to invent another
of those super wheezes to make us a few pounds so we can reduce
taxes and make sure we get in again for a few more years of easy
street. Frankly, I don't know about you lot but I really need
I just couldn't live on a shadow salary
what with University
fees , rent for my lads' flats and Cherie's shopping bills, flowers
for the First Lady etc etc it never stops
It goes like this
We make a new Bill for creating new
types of hospitals called treatment centres
We talk to big business
We license them to open new centres
We get loads of money for the licenses
We guarantee them steady business
We guarantee people to staff them
We pay them pre-agreed fees from their nearest NHS hospital's
budget to do operations and stuff
We won't call them hospitals because we can't be seen to condone
private healthcare. They'll be "Special Health Treatment
Centres" or something equally innocuous-sounding
We charge lots of money for the privilege of starting up the
We switch NHS business to them, nothing complicated at first,
just the easy stuff so they do really well
We lend them NHS staff if they get short
We agree a price for operations that is less than the NHS and
more than is reasonable
We'll crack on to the plebs that extra resources are being made
We'll tell everyone that they're getting a really good deal
We'll say waiting lists will disappear
We'll shut down NHS hospitals as they become redundant
They don't have enough staff to continue
They don't have any waiting lists to keep what staff they have
left fully employed
They're becoming a drain on the countries resources and being
We'll give everyone the option of going private if there isn't
an NHS hospital within 200 miles of where they live
We'll make opting out of the NHS compulsory
We'll rename the new treatment centres "Hospitals"
and any remaining NHS hospitals will become "places for
NHS "advanced treatment" will only be carried out if
people pay a surcharge
Finally after changing the definition of "easy stuff",
all operations will be transferred
We'll close down the remaining NHS hospitals
We'll offer all the NHS buildings to the new private hospitals
Any that aren't sold we'll sell to supermarkets and they can
knock them down and build huge shopping centres. Guess who suggested
that one to me? Don't answer that it's rhetorical!
What does everyone that doesn't want
What a spiffing idea PM
Well bring Britain into the 21st century PM
Just a few helpful questions PM
Yes Horace what is, and be quick I've
got a luncheon appointment with the head of BUPA
Can we suggest some weasel words so
we can answer the BBC's awkward questions PM. You know how it
is at 8am. If I don't have something lined up I usually make
a botch of it.
I've already thought of that Horace.
We'll restrict the numbers of NHS staff
that can be made available to 70%
Why 70% PM?
Well I'm sure the new treatment centres
will only want doctors and nurses. They won't want anyone that's
in a trade union such as cleaning staff for starters!
I reckon 70% will nicely cover ALL the
doctors and nurses and that wally on the BBC won't think of differentiating
between trolley pushers and brain surgeons, ho ho.
Just keep saying that this will cut
waiting lists and does he agree that cutting waiting lists is
a good thing?
What about the hospital bosses PM?
Well we've been dragging our feet over
that legislation that stops bosses giving themselves golden handshakes.
They'll do very nicely I'm sure.
Now just one final thing
I have it on good authority that there
are some useful part-time jobs about to come up. You know
health policy advisors, lobbyists, in fact you don't actually
have to do anything just let these special health treatment centres
add some really influential names to their headed paper and Bob's
useful pocket money
ho ho ho.
Now that BUPA meeting
. I'll be
back later folks to sign anything to get things moving..
Before you go Boss. I've just thought.
If everyone switches over from the NHS in a huge surge as it
were.. won't there be big waiting lists all over again?
We already thought of that Deputy PM.
Once the new centres are running smoothly, the only way extra
people can transfer to the new treatment centres will be via
a special telephone number. They'll ring up and transfer their
NHS appointment through a special operator.
I don't quite see PM.
Watch my lips Deputy PM. I said Special
There'll be one operator handling all
the transfers. We'll set up a premium phone line at £1
a minute. There'll be a series of questions demanding the caller
presses a numbered button. You know
. "Type in your
postcode via the telephone keypad, push button 9 if you want
a hip operation", etc. then we'll have special music playing
while they're waiting and after 60 minutes the line will go dead,
just before a message that says, "Your phone batteries are
going flat, replace the phone and call back in two days".
Frankly, I suspect most people will
fail to type in their postcode Deputy PM.
Don't worry about it.
If you say so PM. I'm sure you've thought
of everything as usual.
Right Deputy PM and I don't think we
really ought to bother the opposition about this just slip a
new Bill through at the bottom of a heap of boring stuff like
a new "Bill to allow MP's expense reports through without
scrutiny", or something
You know the form deputy PM
Yes indeed PM leave it to me..