So what happened to human rights, Minister? Yes, good question - and what happened to Mott the Hoople?

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Last week we dissected the health manifestos of the Liberal Democrats ("With 5p on fags, you can smoke yourself stupid and do the NHS a favour") and Labour ("Um ..."). Today, it's the turn of the Conservatives, and I'm delighted to be joined by the junior health minister, Sir Tarquin Grantchester.

Minister, were you aware that in a recent MORI poll, 99 per cent of health workers said your reforms of the NHS are, and I quote, "a load of Y-fronts?"

99 per cent? Well that's encouraging.


Because it's falling. The gap is narrowing ...

Yes, well what about the statistic that nurses and doctors top the national average for professional suicides?

That's the trouble with league tables, you see. You can never believe them. Apart from the ones we produce.

As for taxpayers, a lot of their money now goes on administration, and all they get in return is a two-tier service where treatment depends on where you live, not how sick you are.

Ah, yes, but ...

There are no specialist nurses for intensive care, psychiatric hospitals are six to a bed, and the rich now outlive the rest by 10 years or more.

Let's look at the facts, shall we? Who would you say has come out of our reforms worst off?

The critically ill, the mentally ill, the poor; basically anyone living in a city.

Exactly. The critically ill can't vote, the poor vote Labour and the mentally ill vote Liberal Democrat - they're no use to us.

So you're saying they don't deserve health care?


What about the elderly?

Oh, I think the elderly are old enough to look after themselves, don't you?

Well, excuse me Minister, but whatever happened to human rights?

Yes, what did happen to human rights? And what happened to Mott The Hoople?

Mmm. Back on earth, surely if you shunt the sick to the back of the queue, they're going to get even sicker and eventually need to be admitted to hospital as emergencies.

Not if there aren't any hospitals for them to go to. By the time we've finished, the entire urban population of Britain will be served by a single minor injuries unit on the Isle of Mug.

Ah, yes, but you promised to plough back all the money you've saved from hospital closures into improving general practice.

True, but unfortunately there won't be any GPs to spend it. We've made general practice such a f***ing awful job that no one wants to do it any more. They're all dropping like flies.

What about the Patients' Charter? The right to receive care on the basis of clinical need, the right to receive emergency treatment at any time ...

Oh come, come, Dr Hammond. Don't be so naive. The Patients Charter was just our little joke. You know, to give people wildly unrealistic expectations of the NHS - so they get all frustrated and aggressive, and they beat up their doctors and punch the nurses and force them all into early retirement. It's been a tremendous success.

So what you're saying is that in a few years, there isn't going to be a health service?


So people will be left to die?

Oh no, no, no, not at all. You misunderstand me. People will be encouraged to die. As part of our waiting list initiative, we're sending all our elderly patients to have their operations done on the cheap at private hospitals with no emergency cover if anything goes wrong.

A sort of organised genocide?

We're working on it. And as part of our care in the community programme, we're keeping all the zoos open around the clock and giving the mentally ill unrestricted access to the lion enclosure.

That's outrageous ...

No. I'll tell you what's outrageous, Dr Hammond. It's using your professional title to write fictitious columns like this. People respect doctors; they think what you write is true. They might even think I exist.

They're not that gullible, surely?

I'll let you know on Fridayn