• Jean Rafferty



April 2020

From: Human Resources Department

To: Prime Minister

Dear Prime Minister, It’s good to know that you’re well enough to return to full Cabinet responsibility next week. You have been much missed, except at Cobra meetings of course, though it was definitely much more important for you to be seen cavorting about with that shaggy dragon thing for the Chinese New Year than to be listening to bleating medics. After all, the Chinker Chonks may have given us this virus, but actually, PM, I think they’ve handed us a rare opportunity.

You know my department is always seeking to improve our use of the human resources at our disposal. Goodness knows, they’re not wholly up to the mark these days, with all these young people whining about climate change and their mental health. They should just bloody well get on with it. The world has survived millions of years of storms and earthquakes and I’d lay odds it’ll survive another few million years of industrialisation - as long as the sensible ones among us continue to maintain second homes in the country, of course. That’ll keep it green, by Jove.

But this Covid 19 thingy is a marvellous chance for us to streamline the National Health Service. Till the virus struck, people had become way too dependent on people from outside solving their problems for them. I know you don’t believe in the nanny state any more than I do. Now we have an opening to encourage people to look after themselves and stand on their own two feet.

We have a new model, Prime Minister, and I for one am very excited by it. So excited that I have another modest proposal to make - that we build on the success of the new climate of thought and create a super-efficient health service entirely dedicated to coronavirus. We’re already halfway there as we’ve put all other health care to one side while we concentrate on it. Let’s extend the idea so that every hospital in the whole country is devoted solely to coronavirus. People will soon come to realise that if they want other medical services they’ll jolly well have to pay for them.

Look, they’re already getting the hang of modern thinking. Referrals to A&E are down by 54 percent and urgent cancer referrals are down by a whopping 72 percent. Good grief, PM, it just shows how much we squander the privilege of medical care in normal circumstances. This proves it, people are referring themselves to the medics for no good reason. And we couldn’t possibly have achieved such a truly admirable fall in cases without the head start we’ve got from this.

I suppose people will start griping that a few extra people might die - there’s been that spike in unexplained deaths in Scotland - but luckily some prof from Edinburgh University has come up with a theory that suits our purposes very well. She says it’s down to the Scots’ boozing. Up to them if they want to ban it, of course, though I should think wee Nicola will really unite the country if she wants to bring in that one. Could be a good thing for us, of course. Take his Buckfast away from a Jock and he’ll be singing Enger-land, Enger-land, Enger-land before you can pour yourself a little snifter.

There is, of course, the thorny question of the pharmaceutical companies. We can’t see them going to the wall. (I have to confess I have a certain personal interest in this - I have a few spondulicks invested in one of the big firms and am keeping a keen eye on the progress of some of the others.) It would be a shame if they found a vaccine or even a treatment too quickly as we want to capitalise on the shrinking of the national health service. It would be disastrous if things went back to normal too quickly, before we’d got people educated about self-sufficiency in health matters.

In fact what we could do is extend the ability of pharmacists to prescribe, as they’re temporarily doing now. Doctor, chemist? It doesn’t much matter where people get their tablets from just so long as they get them. We could even have computerised booths where you key your symptoms in and the machine tells you what to take for it. After all, that’s all the GPs are doing at the moment. You phone up, tell them you’ve gone numb down your left hand side and they’ll prescribe a few statins. Job done.

At one stroke we’d cut the cost of education, which is a terrible burden on the country, and of doctor’s wages, which really are shockingly high. Good grief, they actually earn more than MPs do. They get 90 grand a year and we have to struggle by on under 82. Just as well we have our allowances and are able to get relief on our second homes and put the wife down as an office worker or something. I throw Babs a few extra spa days to make it up to her and the old bean is perfectly happy.

You can get people used to anything and I’d say we’re doing terribly well on getting the public to accept our philosophy already. Rallying the troops has brought in 750000 unpaid workers to the NHS, (sorry, volunteers - you may have missed that figure when you were at Chequers) a great saving on the economic burden of healthcare. And the weekly doorstep jamboree is doing wonders for morale, as are the badges, a very good incentive, I’m sure. The stars performing in their own homes at the weekend was just the ticket. I was a bit disappointed Jennifer Lopez appeared to be fully clothed but Michael Buble really hit the funny bone with his impersonation of someone with constipation.

I know you’re not a man for detail, PM, and quite right too. A broad brush approach is how you become a truly inspirational leader. There are flunkeys like me who’ll take care of the fine print. People nowadays don’t expect their leaders to be too serious - the Donald should take a tip out of your book and crack a few jokes once in a while. Then maybe he’d have your approval ratings. Or he could get sick too - that should swing it.

So let my department take the burden and lead the way on this. With best wishes, Jeremy

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