WOULDN’T it be great if the people who make decisions which have horrible effects on other people’s lives were given a taste of the misery they cause?

I was thinking about this the other day, while reading about the ongoing scandal affecting five GP surgeries in Swindon.

A new appointments system has left patients, some of them inevitably suffering pain and fear, spending ridiculous amounts of time waiting to be put through to a call centre.

The well-heeled NHS bosses ultimately responsible for allowing this travesty to be inflicted have done little more than issue a few meaningless buzzword-laden statements which offer precisely nothing by way of reassurance, nor anything approaching a solid promise that the situation will change.

These are the same well-heeled NHS bosses, you’ll recall, who pop up in the press every so often to pontificate about how evil and selfish we all are when we turn up in Accident and Emergency with conditions a GP should be able to deal with.

That’s what got me thinking about consequences. I’d like to see special clauses added into the contracts of any NHS executive beyond a certain pay band - let’s say anybody on more than three times the salary of a nurse.

The contract would force them to enrol as patients at the surgeries in their area with the very longest waiting times for people calling to make appointments. They would also be forbidden from obtaining treatment at any hospital if they were (a) conscious and (b) had not yet made contact with their GP surgery and been cleared to seek emergency care.

Imagine the scene at A&E as the triage nurse told one of these people: “Yes, I see that your left leg appears to be on the wrong way round, one of your eyes is looking at me, the other is looking for me and your ribcage seems to be a bit lop-sided, but you also appear to be breathing quite well. What did your GP say?”

“I couldn’t get through to my GP - I was waiting for an hour just to be told I was sixtieth in the queue!”

“Well, that’s unfortunate but I’m afraid we’ve got more important things to do than deal with selfish people like you who clog up this department without bothering to try their GP first.”

“But...but...it really hurts and I’m really scared!”

“There’s a walk-in centre round the corner.”

“But I can’t walk! I need an ambulance.”

“Sorry, there won’t be any ambulances available until about tomorrow tea time - it’s the cutbacks. You’ll just have to hop to the walk-in centre on your good leg.”

While we’re at it, we could extend the principle to just about anybody else who chisels cash from our pockets, delivers substandard service and doesn’t care how it affects people.

Politicians who claim the state pension doesn’t leave recipients with a choice between heating and eating spring to mind.

“Hello, is that the power company? I seem to have been cut off.”

“No you haven’t - you’ve just used up all of your heating allowance for the week. We’ll turn the power on again in a few days. Or we could transfer some of your food allowance to your heating allowance.”

“But what am I supposed to eat?”

“You should have thought of that before you were profligate with your power.”

“Profligate? I only use a little portable electric fire.”

“How many bars do you turn on?”


“Well there you go then.”

“There are penguins in the hall!”

“I thought you said there’s nothing to eat. This is benefit fraud.”