Yesterday, the Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt visted the debt-ridden University Hospital of North Staffordshire. The hospital has had to lose jobs and close wards in recent months. However, in order to make it look busy again it reopened an eye ward and did some operations for the day. A doctor told the Telegraph.
"We were told that because she was coming there would be two theatre lists instead of the usual one and we got a message to reopen the theatre.
"We had to wash out and check all the equipment, the microscopes and the cataracts operating machine. The nurse who ran the theatre before was called back in and for the first time in almost a year the theatre was used for eye operations again. All this was so that the hospital could show Miss Hewitt that all was well and that cuts could not affect patient services, which is of course rubbish.
"It was an incredibly sneaky thing to do but then the management is obsessed with spin rather than trying to run a good hospital. What Miss Hewitt won't see is that tomorrow, the next day and for the foreseeable future the eye theatre will be closed again."
Now, is it just me or is this reminiscent of the beginning of Monty Python's Meaning of Life(1983)?
DOCTOR SPENSER: And, uh, get the machine that goes 'ping'.
OBSTETRICIAN: And get the most expensive machines, in case the administrator comes.
NURSE: The administrator is here, doctor.
OBSTETRICIAN: Switch everything on!
ADMINISTRATOR: Aah! I see you have the machine that goes 'ping'. This is my favourite. You see, we lease this back from the company we sold it to, and that way, it comes under the monthly current budget and not the capital account.
The real question is whether anyone from the Tory Party will have the balls to point out the hilarity of this moment where reality imitated art?