Monday, 20 February 2012

A Healthy Summit?

David Cameron’s decision not to invite those bodies representing healthcare professionals who oppose the NHS reforms to today’s summit on the subject is an act of unqualified genius, and I for one am inspired. My colleagues and I face the prospect of being routinely spanked in an inter-office 7-a-side football match on Thursday night, naturally a battle of neo-gladiatorial significance, and now our illustrious leader has unlocked for us the key to victory: don’t invite the opposition!

What possible benefit could it now be to garner the input of the British Medical Association, the Royal College of Nursing, and the Royal College of General Practitioners anyway? They will be charged with delivering the services of course, but have already called for the controversial bill to be binned. Now, if you’re proffering a plethora of unpopular proposals, the last thing you’d like is the adversely affected averting your attention to how much they wish you wouldn’t. Our uncontested victory on Thursday may feel a little hollow, but it’s a rather deep hole that Mr Cameron is digging, still all the better to put those pesky doctors in.

Almost on cue, a study by the London School of Economics released today found that increasing competition between NHS hospitals increases efficiency and eases stress on straining budgets. Of course it does! I saved a small fortune employing the cheapest plumber this side of Siberia, and every one of the last six months the taps have been leaking I’m glad I did. I can’t wait to get him back and ask if he does keyhole surgery as well. Competition is important, because it creates the conditions in which a small company in France can make breast implants from industrial grade silicon, and everyone from Harley Street and downwards laps them up because they are mysteriously cheap, increasing the profit margins and share prices and smug grins from the board of directors. Why on earth would you not want a piece of that?

What, may I ask, is wrong with privatisation anyway? The cost of my train to work has increased by over 80% in four years, my salary hasn’t. But many is the time that I sit on the creatively vandalised platform, as the occasionally functioning public information system taunts me with promises of minor delays, before slapping up “cancelled” and sending me scuttling to the taxi office, knowing I can’t reclaim the cost of my ticket because it’s under a fiver. And I think to myself, this is brilliant, I sure hope they do this with the National Health Service.    

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