A man enters a shop, in the corner of which a string quartet is, appropriately enough, playing ‘Nearer my God to thee’. Several members of the Department of Health are also present. When they aren’t burying their heads in the buckets of sand which they carry with them, they busy themselves rearranging the deckchairs that are variously positioned across the shop floor. The man, whose name is Joe Public [JP], approaches the counter and, after ringing a bell, a shopkeeper [SK] appears.]
JP: Good morning
SK: Morning, sir. Welcome to the NHS Emporium.
JP: Thank you my good man.
SK: What can I do for you sir?
JP: I was sitting in a nearby estaminet skimming through the latest report of the World Health Organisation when suddenly I came over all valetudinarian.
SK: Valetudinarian, sir?
JP: Eh up, I felt proper peaky! .
SK: Ah, peaky
JP: In a nutshell. And I thought to myself, I’ll avail myself of some top quality healthcare by visiting your establishment. So I curtailed my scrutinisation of the aforementioned compte rendu, rose gingerly to my feet and directed myself to your place of purveyance in order to enquire upon the availability of an efficacious ameliorative.
SK: Come again.
JP: I want a timely medical intervention.
SK: Oh, I thought you were moaning about the string quartet.
JP: Oh, heaven forbid, for I am one who delights in the strains expressed by those consummate in brandishing the bow
JP: Ooh ah, I like a nice tune on the fiddle
SK: So they can go on playing, can they?
JP: Most certainly. Now then, some medical attention my good man.
SK: Certainly, sir, what would you like?
JP: Well, how about some advice from 111.
SK: I’m afraid we’re fresh out of 111 call handlers, sir. It’s more than likely you’ll be referred to your GP in the morning.
JP: Oh, never mind, how are you on meeting A&E waiting times?
SK: Well we weren’t managing to hit our targets back in the summer, so now we’re in the thick of winter, we’re not even close to seeing people in a timely fashion.
JP: Tish tish, no matter, well stout yeoman, a full course of physiotherapy if you please.
SK: Well I can put in an order for you sir, but it’ll be some weeks before they’ll be able to offer you an appointment, and I’m afraid it will be some while after that before they’ll actually be able to see you.
JP: ‘Tis not my lucky day, is it, aah, some HRT for my darling wife?
SK: Sorry sir.
JP: My regular prescription?
SK: Normally, sir, yes. Today, though, no.
JP: A timely appointment for talking therapy?
JP: An adult autism assessment within two years?
JP: An echocardiogram this side of Christmas?
JP: A hip replacement perhaps?
SK: Ah we do have hip replacements yes, sir.
JP: You do? Excellent.
SK: Yes sir, though, er, there will be a wait.
JP: I’ll be happy if I can but look forward to walking without pain.
SK: Well, ah, it is rather a long wait actually.
JP: No matter, refer me thither for a ceramic prosthetic acetabulum, mwah.
SK: I think the wait may be more than you’ll like, sir
JP: I don’t care how long the wait is, refer me forthwith.
SK: [the shopkeeper looks below the counter] Oh!
JP: What now?
SK: It seems the surgeon has retired early as a result of work stress and it no longer being financially worthwhile to keep working – something to do with pensions apparently.
JP: Has he?
SK: She, sir.
JP: An outpatient appointment in Dermatology? Rheumatology?
JP: Sufficient carers to support people in their own home?
JP: You are able to offer some health provision are you?
SK: Of course, sir, this is The NHS Emporium, sir. We’ve got…
JP: No, no, don’t tell me, I’m keen to guess.
SK: Fair enough,
JP: High GP morale?
SK: And a very good day to you too, sir.
JP: [looking puzzled] I beg your pardon.
SK: Oh I do apologise sir, I thought you were repeating your earlier greeting. Mr G.P. Morale, that’s my name. Grenville Prendergast, if you were wondering. But if it’s high GP morale you’re after, I’m afraid we’ve been all out of that for some while.
JP: Safe staffing levels on hospital wards?
SK: No. Not with a national shortage of 40,000 nurses.
JP: Aah, how about a single appointment in primary care ?
SK: We’ll, we don’t get much call for thise around here sir. Not these days.
JP: Not much call? Primary care is the bedrock of the NHS dealing with around 90% of patient contacts for under 10% of the national budget.
SK: Not round these parts where medical centres are being forced to close due to the increasing shortage of GPs – 6000 empty posts across the country now.
JP: Tell me then. What is the most sought after form of medical attention round these parts?
SK: Emergency ambulances for genuinely serious medical problems.
JP: Is that right?
SK: Oh, yes. ambulances are staggeringly popular in this neck of the woods.
JP: Are they?
SK: They’re our number one most frequently requested cry for help.
JP: I see, Ambulances eh?
SK: That’s right, sir?
JP: All right, okay, ‘Have you an ambulance?’ he asked, expecting the answer ‘No’.
SK: I’ll have a look, sir…[the shopkeeper has a good look round]…um, No.
JP: It’s not much of national health service is it.
SK: Finest in the world.
JP: Explain the logic underlying that conclusion, please
SK: We’ll it’s so clean.
JP: It’s certainly uncontaminated by health provision.
SK: You haven’t asked me about a government NHS plan, sir
JP: Is it worth it?
SK: Could be
CS: Have you a government NHS plan?
JP: That figures, predictable really I suppose. It was an act of purest optimism to have posed the question in the first place. Tell me?
SK: Yes, sir
JP: Have you, in fact, got the capacity to provide anywhere near sufficient health care for this country?
SK: Yes sir.
SK: No, not really, sir.
JP: You haven’t?
SK: No sir.
JP: Well, I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to conclude that the NHS is terminally ill. Worse than that, I hereby declare it to be dead.
SK: No, no, sir…it’s resting.
JP: Resting? Then why are large numbers of those working within it retiring early and many who wouldn’t normally do so taking out private medical insurance? Why is the news daily reporting stories such as that of an elderly lady who, aged 90 and with a suspected broken hip, had to wait 40 hours for an ambulance and then wait outside the hospital, in the ambulance overnight, because there was no bed available? And why are people now being turned away from A&E departments due to the fact that they don’t have the capacity to attend to all those who come to them for help?
SK: To protect the NHS?
JP: I’m afraid it’s far too late for that. The NHS is no more. It has ceased to be. It’s expired and gone to meet its maker. It’s bereft of life, it’s kicked the bucket, it’s shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible. It is now an ex NHS.
JP: What is it?
SK: We appeared to have slipped into a different sketch
JP: So we have. I’m sorry.
[Joe Public turns to the string quartet and asks it to stop playing. Then, with head bowed low, he leaves the shop. Behind him the shopkeeper turns on his phone and opens a news app that informs him that excess deaths are increasing at an exceedingly alarming rate]
SK: What a senseless waste of human life.
[With apologies to Monty Python’s Flying Circus.]
Other unlikely tales, beginning with four more inspired by Monty Python:
To read ‘The Dead NHS Sketch’, click here
To read ‘Monty Python and the NHS’, click here
To read ‘Docteur Creosote’, click here
To read ‘The Four Clinicians Sketch’, click here
To read ‘Mr Benn – the GP’, click here
To read ‘A GP called Paddington’, click here
To read ‘Scooby Doo and the Deserted Medical Centre’, click here
To read ‘Paddington and the Ailing Elderly Relative’, click here
To read ‘Dr Jonathan Harker and the post evening surgery home visit’, click here
To read ‘Bagpuss and the NHS’, click here
To read ‘the day LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD got sick’ click here
To read ‘Jeeves and the Hormone Deficiency’, click here
To read ‘Jeepy Leepy and the NHS’, click here
To read ‘The Three Little GPs and the Big Bad Secretary of State for Health’, click here
To read ‘A Dream of an Antiques Roadshow’, click here
To read ‘Mr McGregor’s Revenge – A Tale of Peter Rabbit’, click here
To read ‘The Scrooge Chronicles’, click here
To read ‘Dr Wordle and the Mystery Diagnosis’, click here
To read ‘The Happy Practice – A Cautionary Tale’, click here
To read ‘The Three General Practitioners Gruff’, click here
To read ‘General Practices are Go!’, click here
To read ‘A Mission Impossible’, click here
To read ‘A Grimm Tale’, click here
To read ‘The General Practitioner – Endangered’, click here
To read ‘The State of Disrepair Shop’, click here
Other blogs with a cricketing them and a considerable nod to Monty Python:
To read ‘The Somerset Player Emporium’, click here
To read ‘A Song for Brian’, click here
To read ‘A Cricket Taunt’, click here