During the summer of 2008, I spent a generally tedious four months working in a GP’s surgery in suburban Manchester. The time passed slowly, enlivened only by an extraordinary incident, which (despite desperate experimentation with a variety of psychoactive drugs) remains fixed in the memory.
The consultation appeared to be routine for the time of year – hay fever symptoms being interpreted as the initial stirrings of cancer of the whole body – but as proceedings drew to a close and with reassurance provided, the patient got up from the chair to reveal the presence of a small stool. Unfortunately, this was not a miniature piece of furniture from a doll’s house, but the product of a much darker place. Speechless, I watched the depositor cheerily wave goodbye as they skipped through the door, relieved of the anxiety of a terminal prognosis, and of their constipation.
The episode was recalled today as another offensive motion was passed onto GPs, though this time the Prime Minister was the culprit. A bawdy PMQs was dominated by the ConDem’s plans for the NHS, culminating in Ed Miliband accusing the PM of ‘taking the National out of the NHS’.
Cameron responded by accusing his opposite number of relying on ‘pre-scripted lines’, which was a bold move, considering that ‘In a carbon-conscious world, we’ve got a fossil-fuel chancellor’ and ‘You’re an analogue politician in a digital age’ have tumbled from his lips so easily in previous exchanges. With such spontaneous wit, perhaps Cameron should consider a job in stand-up comedy when he loses his non-existent majority.
Mr Bercow went on to deliver his usual cameo, treating the members to a ‘hilarious’ anecdote about a ten-year old boy approaching the Speaker to demand of him why the House was so raucous. Judging from the howls of laughter that greet Berc’s every action, perhaps it is he who is Dave’s main challenger for the next Perrier Award. He’ll be well acquainted with the abusive language of his hecklers, at the very least.
Also in need of urgent medical attention was Nick Clegg, whose increasingly tired and pallid appearance was only accentuated by his choice of a rather vivid, fuscia-coloured tie. As a healthcare professional may I suggest the Right Honourable Gentleman takes a trip to the haematology clinic to check for anaemia? The stress of all those U-turns and tumbling poll ratings must be having some effect on your nicotine-stained bone marrow – you’d better get the appointment booked now before the waiting times shoot up.
The defining quote of the debate was (at last) delivered by Ed, who reminded our Great Leader that one of his own backbenchers, Dr Sarah Woolaston, had declared the Coalition’s policy to be as destructive as ‘tossing a hand grenade into the NHS’.
Speaking from personal experience, I can confirm that the ConDem’s bombshell is only the second most unwelcome delivery to have been dumped on today’s doctors.