Letter: Health service fulfils Sir Humphrey's ideal

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The Independent Online
Sir: In 1981 Antony Jay and I wrote an episode of Yes Minister called 'The Compassionate Society' in which we invented a hospital which had 500 administrative and clerical staff but no doctors, nurses or patients. There was, unfortunately, no money available for medical services. None the less, Sir Humphrey approved of this hospital.

It was clean, efficient, well-run and cost effective. And it was the government's earnest intention that it would eventually get some patients - in two or three years, perhaps, when the financial situation improved and medical staff could be afforded. In the meantime, it won the Florence Nightingale Award for the Most Hygienic Hospital in the region.

That was 12 years ago. Recent government figures reveal that in the North West Thames Health Authority the number of managers rose from 90 in 1989 to 680 in 1991. The number of administrative and clerical staff increased by 400 - and the number of nursing and midwifery staff decreased by 330.

Millions of people saw Yes Minister. But did anybody listen to it?

Yours faithfully,


Los Angeles, California

20 July