Nick Clegg's NHS is no good if you've got a life

Click to follow
The Independent Online

And still he goes on, the masochistic Mr Clegg, with the radio show on which he routinely exposes himself to ridicule, fury, accusations of hypocrisy, and questions about onesies. Last week he waded into a debate about how to change the NHS, the health service formerly known as one of Britain's greatest achievements. Clegg's big idea is to charge people for their treatment in A&E if they are there for alcohol-related injuries.

This is obviously a brilliant idea as it will punish the selfish and the feckless (and also the desperate and the silly), and I'm sure that Mr Clegg has thought of a way to extract the money from these people even when they don't actually have it. Perhaps he knows of an operation for that. Of course, there would be a charge for it.

While we're about it, let's also refuse treatment that is free at the point of access to other people who have ended up in trouble entirely through their own stupidity. Smokers – such as Nick Clegg – for example. People who go skiing. Let's definitely charge anyone who plays rugby. I don't know if each occasion of drunkenness is statistically less dangerous than each incidence of scrimmage, but there is definitely more blood on the average rugby pitch than in most provincial nightclubs. It only follows, then, to punish anyone who does any sport. Let's penalise marathon runners, who would not need treatment for those torn hamstrings and wonky knees if they weren't so thoughtlessly doing all that running around for charity without a thought of the cost to the poor taxpayer. Make the selfish bastards pay.

While penalising all of this reckless behaviour, we'll have to develop a system for identifying the more responsible citizens. There will be a DNA test so that those requiring medical treatment can prove to their GP that they always eat five pieces of fruit or vegetables every day, work out regularly (but not in a dangerous, high-impact way) and clean their teeth for two minutes at a time. People who are overweight will, of course, be refused any help until they get thinner. Those who are underweight because they have been forced to choose between heating and food should definitely be billed extra. Anyone who is old must be saddled with an extra surcharge for having the indecency not to die sooner, and more cheaply.

All dangerous behaviour will be ranked according to the likelihood of injury, and the size of the risk-taker's inevitable hospital bill will be dictated by the degree of hazard. Such activities will range from going out of the house and crossing the road to owning a dog. Hell, even bras "can kill" – by making your SatNav signal go wonky, apparently.

Really putting oneself in harm's way, regularly, wilfully and without any thought of the consequences, will incur special penalties and its very own circle of NHS hell. Anyone who repeatedly appears on national radio making statements so offensive and stupid that listeners will be hardly able to resist punching them in the face, then? Stick them in an A&E waiting room and don't let them out until they mend their ways. That'll teach 'em.