ACCORDING to Wiltshire NHS bosses, only 33 per cent of the 5,000 people who attended A&E in the first week or so of the year actually needed urgent or emergency treatment.

Furthermore, some of them were there with matters as trivial as a cough, diarrhoea, backache or broken fingernails. So there you have it, folks – the whole A&E crisis is our fault.

The woman whose case we reported last week, the one who waited 14 hours on a trolley with a very real, very painful condition as hard-pushed staff frantically dealt with a horrific workload?

Our fault.

The other woman whose case we reported, the one who helplessly witnessed the wretched and lonely death of an elderly man on a trolley during her own long wait?

Our fault.

Two thirds of the people who turn up at A&E are clearly nothing but self-centred vermin.

As soon as we feel even slightly poorly, we head to the emergency unit for the express purpose of wasting the time of the staff.

Clearly, not a single one of the patients there with a cough was a vulnerable person terrified that their severe, unrelenting hacking was going to turn into a chest infection, pleurisy or something else potentially fatal.

Clearly, not a single one was a child whose parents feared for its life and had no way of knowing whether or not their fear was well-founded. Clearly, not a single person turned up at A&E only reluctantly because their GP had no free slots for a fortnight and the walk-in centre was mobbed.

Clearly, not a single one had tried contacting the NHS health hotline and failed to get through to a human being in spite of waiting for ages. Or finally got through to a human being and found themselves answering questions irrelevant to their case – but clearly intended to reduce their chance of being compensated if everything went pear-shaped. I bet not a single person with back pain was in such agony that they could barely move and was desperate for reassurance that their spine wasn’t damaged.

I bet not a single person there with diarrhoea had had it for days, was unable to obtain timely medical attention elsewhere and found over-the-counter medicines had no effect. I bet none of them were worried about dehydration or the potentially fatal illnesses of which persistent changes of bowel habits can be a symptom.

No, they just thought they’d have a jaunt to A&E to take their mind off having a slightly dicky tummy.

In fact, I’d bet that most of the people waiting on trolleys had broken fingernails, slightly uneven moustaches, smudged make-up or the odd wart.

The A&E crisis is nothing whatsoever to do with chronic underfunding, poor resource deployment by senior managers on six-figure salaries or anything like that.

It’s all our fault, because we like nothing more than heading down to the hospital for no good reason.

After all, it’s not as if we have anything better to do, such as working to put roofs over our heads and those of our loved ones. Once there at A&E, amid the suffering of others, we have great fun adding to the burden endured by some of the finest, most overworked healthcare staff in the Western world and generally making nuisances of ourselves.

Yes, that’ll be it.

An end to all those PPI claim calls?

BT is introducing a new service to crack down on nuisance calls.

Called BT Call Protect, it will be a godsend to everybody who’s picked up the phone and been treated to some twerp flogging PPI compensation, dodgy loans, dodgy windows or some other nonsense.

The service apparently involves calls from known nuisance numbers being blacklisted and diverted.

If only they could be diverted somewhere that charged 90 quid a minute for listening to a carefully-scripted tape recording which sounds exactly like some hapless potential victim.

Either that or a blast of some sinister CIA-devised frequency which causes those who hear it to lose control of certain bodily functions. Anything which reduces the nuisance can only be a good thing, but the companies who make these calls have an awful tendency of popping up with new numbers or spoofed numbers.

I hope Call Protect works, but if it doesn’t I hope BT ups the ante by simply refusing to provide landline services for any company whose directors or staff include known rogues.

Any phone company with the courage to do this will get plenty of extra business from the dwindling number of people who can still be bothered with a landline.

Why the long delay?

ARE you as mystified as I am by the delay in activating our online child grooming law?

It’s not as if it’s an ambiguous law.

It says anybody aged over 18 commits an offence if they knowingly send a sexual communication to a person aged under 16 for the purpose of sexual gratification.

The careful wording means the law won’t cause any injustices.

There’s no scope for, say, a registered counsellor being prosecuted for an innocent professional communication with a young client, or a person aged 16 years and a week ending up branded a sex offender for sending an ill-advised email to a boyfriend or girlfriend aged 15 years and 51 weeks.

Why, then, have we yet to see the law activated in spite of the fact that similar ones already work well in Scotland and Northern Ireland?

Conspiracy theorists are already saying it’s because the Establishment is riddled with dirty, nasty little rodents who are horrified at the thought of light being shed on certain of their activities.

If the Establishment gives a tuppeny damn about our faith in it, it should act immediately to prove show those conspiracy theorists they are wrong.