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Run the NHS like Dixons or PC World? It could happen...


People were taken aback when Sir Bruce Keogh, the Medical Director of the NHS, told this paper that the whole health service should emulate the economic philosophy of “PC World or Dixons”, in improving the quality of what it offers the British public while charging less for it.

Taken aback because: a) Dixons hasn’t been around for seven years; and b) has Sir Bruce been to a PC World lately? Britain’s top medic probably didn’t mean that the NHS should actually be run as if it were an electronics showroom; but, after all the talk about privatisation, it’s easy to imagine how it could become precisely that in, say, five years…

29 July 2018

Dear Sir Bruce,

When you kindly nominated me as project manager of the “Health 4 All” NHS megastore back in 2013, I had no idea of the scale of the task. I imagined it would be like a jolly big Superdrug. I thought: Boots the Chemist crossed with Westfield. I hadn’t realised that there would be (well, yeah – it’s obvious now…) people involved. So the main problem has been finding warehouse space for the Bedridden.

God, there are MILLIONS of them, in a huge variety of hideous beds, wherein they groan all day long and complain about the lack of Wi-fi connection. Mr Muldoon and his team of assistants at Kensington were rushed off their feet dealing with their (often quite gross) enquiries, until we realised that’s what the girls in the Nursing Department are actually for. Ditto the 8,000 GPs in the massive  first-floor consulting room, who stand around for hours in their tweed jackets and sympathetic smiles, asking each other: “And how are the waterworks?”

The layout has given us a few headaches. Obstetrics should be a warm, peaceful department at the rear of the building. But it’s been plonked beside the A&E Dept; so the first thing a nursing mother sees in the corridor at 7am is an inebriated thug with a knife in his cranium yelling at a furtive pervert with a Hoover attachment up his botty. Nice. Putting the Heart/ Lung Transplant Dept so near the Canteen wasn’t a brilliant idea either, for reasons I won’t spell out (think Fridge).

We’re not quite there with the signage in the Amputations and Prosthetics Dept. I cannot fathom the stupidity of whoever plumped for, “It won’t cost an arm and a leg!” And “Don’t wait too long to get it done – chop chop!” As for the  three-for-two offer on replacing amputated toes, words fail me.

Queues at the checkouts are still a problem. There’s always a terrible scrum when we offer 50 per cent off plastic surgery items: buttock lifts, chin dimples, penis enlargements. Less of a scrum when it’s iron lungs, respirators and life-support machines. Some people don’t know a bargain when they see it.

We expected a few teething troubles, Sir Bruce, and we’ve got a mouthful of shark fangs. Are you sure this was a good idea?

Yours, Duncan Carpet,  NHS Press Office and Brand Co-ordinator.