Mark Steel: Gallstones? NHS choice will cure you

Share
Related Topics

You can see why they've announced this plan to change the health service, because it looks similar to the way they transformed the railways into competing units, and that's been such a success who wouldn't want to use a similar system to deal with triple by-passes and liver transplants?

Once the doubters have been pushed aside, hospitals will be free to modernise in the way Virgin modernised the train service. So they can have five almost-empty wards for business class patients, then in second-class have 60 people sat cross-legged by the toilet, under posters telling you how wonderful everything is, with slogans such as "Dying's more jolly when you're left on a trolley".

As with the railways it will become less bureaucratic. Instead of going straight to the operating theatre, you'll be wheeled into A&E, then told they can't take you to the kidney department as that's run by a different operator so you need a dialysis off-peak saver with a reservation you can only book online.

And as with the train companies, hospitals will be encouraged to cut costs on wasteful issues such as safety, until one of them manages to kill 21 customers in the world's first stethoscope disaster. Free to maximise revenue, health trusts will be able to prioritise. So burns victims can be told: "We've cancelled your operation, as the shareholders would prefer our surgeons to rebuild Katie Price for a photo-shoot with Heat."

Cameron emphasised these plans will "free the NHS from ideology", as he's concerned only with "what works best". This may be slightly dishonest, for example because one of the most efficient health services is Cuba's. But it's unlikely Cameron will declare: "I'm not interested in ideology. I just want what works best. That's why I'm reforming the NHS along the lines laid out by Fidel Castro's annual speech to the presidium of Communist Revolutionary Citizens, called All Hail to Proletarian Healthiness and Removal of the Workers' Gallstones."

Cameron believes every aspect of life should be governed by the free market. So it's hardly a coincidence if he says: "I've looked at all the methods of running a health system and you'll never believe it, but I reckon it will be best if we move towards using the free market."

What may be difficult for Cameron is one difference with the railways, because at least British Rail was disliked in the first place. But the NHS is revered by most people, and the most unpopular parts are often those already privatised such as cleaning and catering. So he's claiming the reforms will increase "Choice".

But choice isn't a requirement of a health system. If you're lying on the road after a car's rammed you, you don't want three sets of paramedics round you with brochures, while you say: "Hmm, St George's has more scalpels but St Thomas's has cleaner bedpans, I just can't make my mind up."

The Government's other attempts at privatisation and cutting spending are being blamed on the deficit, but they can't do that with the NHS, so they make this claim of creating choice. But giving hospitals the choice of raising extra funds will mean they soon have no choice but to raise extra funds. Operations will be auctioned on eBay, enterprising health districts will advertise a liver sale, and parts of operating theatres will be converted into themed restaurants where diners can enjoy a meal while watching someone have their appendix out.

Because in polls, railway privatisation is popular with 99 per cent of millionaire train company executives, so the only people cautious about Cameron's NHS reforms are those with vested interests, such as people who work there, patients, people who might one day use it and dinosaurs like that.



Mark Steel is currently on tour: marksteelinfo.com

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Senior Research Fellow in Gender, Food and Resilient Communities

£47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: The Centre for Agroecology, ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Taking on Ukip requires a delicate balancing act for both main parties

Andrew Grice
Today is a bigger Shabbes than usual in the Jewish world because it has been chosen to launch the Shabbos Project  

Shabbes exerts a pull on all Jews, and today is bigger than ever

Howard Jacobson
Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker