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Barrie Hudson takes a sideways look at life
OVERWORKED ambulance crews have lately found themselves sent, complete with lights and sirens, to such life-threatening medical conditions as hiccups and a spot of backache.
This wonderful example of progress in action is down to those talented folks in charge of the NHS, the ones who get more than £100,000 apiece a year. They apparently decided that putting private firms in charge of non-emergency medical advice was a fantastic idea.
Perhaps this means there’s a definition of ‘fantastic’ of which most of us are unaware. Perhaps there’s a special NHS managers’ dictionary in which it’s defined as: “Costing less than having actual medical personnel on the other end of the phone line when people call for medical advice.”
Anyway, a way must be found to cut the number of erroneous ambulance despatches. Rather than calling in some sharp-suited and very expensive consultants to address this issue, I suggest inviting everybody at the call centres to fill in a simple multiple choice questionnaire I wrote on the back of a beer mat in three minutes flat the other night.
Depending on their answers, staff should be allowed to carry on in their jobs or else sent for retraining. Here are the questions: 1) It is appropriate to send an ambulance if a caller says their leg is: (a) In a mild state of cramp? (b) In the midst of an uncomfortable bout of itchiness? or (c) in the back garden, protruding from beneath a ride-on lawnmower, while the caller is in the living room?
2) Somebody calls on behalf of a loved one who has a minor cut or bruise on their hand, and explains that the person therefore can’t hold a phone at the moment. Is asking that person whether their loved one is still conscious: (a) A bit silly? (b) A complete and utter insult to their intelligence? or (c) Perfectly sensible?
3) The likelihood of a caller forgetting to mention that they or the person on whose behalf they are calling has suddenly gone the colour of a smurf, and that they should therefore be asked whether they have, in fact, gone the colour of a smurf, is: (a) Extremely slight? (b) Non-existent? or (c) So high that you should send an ambulance just in case?
4) It is appropriate to send an ambulance if a caller says a toe is: (a) In pain, having been stubbed? (b) In pain on account of a troublesome bunion? or (c) In a large dog on account of having been bitten off?
5) An ambulance should be considered for somebody whose digestive tract is: (a) On the blink because of a minor bug? (b) On fire because they wanted to prove their masculinity by eating the hottest dish on the menu? or (c) On the kitchen floor following an unfortunate accident involving an electric carving knife and a rotisserie oven?
6) Using one’s common sense is: (a) Desirable? (b) To be encouraged? or (c) Highly dangerous?
7) The priority for a non-emergency medical service is: (a) Not letting down patients and ambulance crews? (b) Not letting down the taxpayer? or (c) Not getting sued?
Will cameras be (cost) effective?
THE council is looking to hook up bus lane and bus gate cameras to catch selfish drivers who think the rules don’t apply to them.
I think it’s a great idea because it promotes and eases the way for public transport in our traffic-laden streets.
I have a question, though. If central government happens to step in and snaffle all the fines, like it did with speed cameras, will we then be told that the bus lane and bus gate cameras aren’t as effective as previously thought, and are to be switched off?
Keep ’em under lock and key
HAVE you noticed that whenever prolific burglars are in the dock, as has happened a few times in Swindon lately, their lawyers always ask for a non-custodial sentence on the grounds that prison “doesn’t work”?
If you’re judge, ask yourself how many burglaries the average burglar has committed while in prison and how many while not in prison.
Then you might realise what those of us who don’t live in exclusive leafy estates have known for years: it’s letting ’em out that causes the problems.