24th April 2013



24th April 2013

My yoghurt-coated cherry,

I’m so glad you’re doing something about that awful NHS Direct service. I’m surprised, frankly, that it’s taken so long for somebody to realise that just about anyone can get paid to say, “If you’re worried, go to A&E.”

So now we have NHS 111 whose contract is being handled by a mix of public services and private contractors, all of whom in the first instance put you in touch with a friendly voice who, although not medically trained, is fully qualified of reading info back to you directly from the NHS Direct page or to tell you to go to hospital. And with a call back wait time of no less than 11 hours.

Thank goodness that somebody is finally making some profit from the NHS. Of course, with profit-based corporate entities getting more and more involved in healthcare services, like Virgin Care, it’s not a huge stretch of the imagination to see other helpful services eventually being offered too. And who knows, perhaps one day a typical call may go something like this:

“NHS 111. You’re speaking with Vrisakam Manachandaru, all calls are being monitored and recorded for quality and training purposes. How may I be of assistance?”
“Yes, hello, I’ve been on hold for two hours and my grandfather is having trouble breathing and is now complaining of pains in his chest and…”
“I am very sorry to hear about that, madam. Can I please have your postcode?”
“N13 2JP”
“Thank you very much for that information. And your date of birth?”
“27th July 1977.”
“Thank you very much for that information. And the first line of your address?”
“It’s Flat 17A, 4 Colbeck Street.”
“Thank you very much for that information. Is the gentleman you are calling about able to stand without assistance?”
“No, I think he’s stopped breathing now.”
“I’m very sorry to hear that, madam. Are you aware of our new low cost funeral service?”
“No. Do please continue!”

The amount of variety that could be added to public services is limitless, darling. Could you get Unum involved in any way? Sounds like a money-spinner for the people who need it the most to me.

I do hope that your Stephen Hammond’s recommendation that ministers get a substantial pay rise is taken seriously, by the way. After all, GPs get about £100,000pa, and everyone knows that they’re lazy layabouts who work about ten hours a week and don’t give a shit, so MPs should get WAY more than that.

Katy Anchant


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