Once upon a time there was a little girl and her name was Little Red Riding Hood. One morning she felt ill and decided, therefore, to go and visit her Grandma who, for almost 75 years had been providing health care to anyone who required it.
‘Should I take a hamper of food for her?’ Little Red Riding Hood asked her mother
‘Whilst that would be kind of you, it’s really not necessary’, her mother replied. ‘Grandma treats everyone free at the point of need. But do be careful on the way. If you should meet anyone, please remember that not everyone values Grandma as much as we do. There’s a wolf, one of the big and bad variety, who sometimes visits these parts from his home in Westminster. If you stop and talk to him he’s liable to tell you lies about what Grandma does.’
And with that Little Red Riding Hood set off. Ordinarily she’d have skipped her way through the forest that lay between her home and Grandma’s but, as she wasn’t feeling so well, she walked along rather slowly. She hadn’t gone far when she met a hairy creature with a long black nose and a bushy tail.
‘Hello, Little Red Riding Hood’, said the creature, bowing low before her in an attempt to ingratiate himself with someone he recognised as a potential member of the voting public. ‘And where are you heading so early in the morning?’
Little Red Riding Hood recognised immediately that this was the wolf that her mother had warned her about but, not appreciating what a malicious creature he was, saw no harm in stopping to talk to him for a while.
‘I’m off to see Grandma. I’m not feeling well and I’m hoping she will be able to make me feel better’.
‘Oh you don’t want to do that’, said the wolf. ‘She’s way past her best. These days you’d be better off paying to see someone privately. That way you’d be sure to get the treatment you really need!’
With that the wolf continued on his way leaving Little Red Riding Hood wondering if he might have a point. She felt sad though because she didn’t have any money with which to pay and she was feeling far too ill to look for a better paid job. She thought for a moment about whether she should try to sell a treasured family possession to raise the necessary funds but then, remembering that she did not possess anything that would raise the sufficient capital, decided instead to continue on her way and see what Grandma could do for her.
Whilst she had been pondering these things, the wolf, unbeknownst to Little Red Riding Hood, had made his way back through the forest and broken into the house that Grandma called home. The lupine fiend had then proceeded to steal from Grandma much of what she needed to continue to offer her customary high level of care. As a result, when Little Red Riding Hood eventually arrived, and though better off people were walking straight into a neighbouring building offering medical treatment at a cost, there was a very long queue outside Grandma’s door. Many hours later, when Little Red Riding Hood eventually finally made it inside Grandma’s house, Grandma herself wasn’t anywhere to be seen. She was in another part of the building where, despite being exhausted by both the heavy workload and the long hours she was required to work, she continued to do her very best for those who were the most severely unwell.
And so it was that Little Red Riding Hood found herself consulting, not with Grandma herself but rather one who, with his long black nose and bushy tail, was but a poor imitation of the benevolent caregiver that had served those in need for so many years. Though initially taken in, it didn’t take long for Little Red Riding Hood to realise that there was something very odd about the bed-bound figure to whom she was talking.
‘Grandma, what long waiting lists you have!’ Little Red Riding Hood began.
‘All the better to make patients disillusioned with the timelinesses of the care that actually is provided them’, replied the wolf.
‘Grandma, what understaffed wards you have!’, Little Miss Riding Hood continued
‘All the better to lower staff morale and make it nigh on impossible to provide good care to those who need it most’, said the wolf.
‘Grandma, what woefully few hospital beds you have’, said Little Red Riding Hood.
‘All the better to ensure the dissatisfaction of those who thus have to wait for hours on trolleys in casualty’ said the wolf.
‘Grandma, what a long line of ambulances queuing up outside your house you have’, said Little Red Riding Hood.
‘All the better to ensure that there are none available to attend those who are acutely unwell in the community’, said the wolf.
‘Grandma, what a shortage of GPs and Practice Nurses you have’, said Little Red Riding Hood.
‘All the better to exacerbate the dissatisfaction felt by so many with regards the country’s current level of health provision’, said the wolf.
‘And Grandma, what a catastrophic decline brought about in the NHS you have.’ said Little Red Riding Hood, sounding now a little like Yoda as she finally realised to whom she was speaking,
‘All the better’, replied the wolf, removing his disguise ‘to ensure the success of my ultimate plan to replace the NHS with a private healthcare system’
And with that the wolf leapt from the bed he himself had been blocking and set about the systematic dismantling of the health service that he’d begun some years previously such that soon it was no longer fit for purpose. And, abandoning her without the care she needed, the very big and very bad wolf left Little Red Riding Hood for dead.
And as for everyone else…they all lived unhappily ever after.
Other unlikely tales:
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 ‘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 ‘The NHS Emporium’, click here
To read ‘The Dead NHS Sketch’, click here
To read ‘The Four Clinicians Sketch’, 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