Looking at the material, this is quite surprising. There’s no new information in it and the humour is astonishingly restrained – for Frankie. It comes across as a version of a stand-up routine he might have written for BBC1, going out around 8 or 9pm. That’s no bad thing.
We know that Jeremy Hunt co-wrote a book in which he said the NHS should be privatised; we know he’s wrong about death rates; and we know he’s wrong about the solution.
But Frankie is hugely popular, and the fact is, his column will have been read by people who don’t know these things.
That is why he’s to be praised for it. Nice one, Frankie!
The fact that Hunt co-wrote a book about how to dismantle the NHS makes him feel like a broad stroke in a heavy-handed satire. Even the name Jeremy Hunt is so redolent of upper-class brutality that it feels like he belongs in one of those Martin Amis books where working-class people are called things like Dave Rubbish and Billy Darts (No shade, Martin – I’m just a joke writer: I envy real writers, their metaphors and similes taking off into the imagination sky like big birds or something). Indeed, Jeremy Hunt is so overtly ridiculous that he might be best thought of as a sort of rodeo clown, put there simply there to distract the enraged public.
The government believes that death rates are going up because doctors are lazy, rather than because we’ve started making disabled people work on building sites. Indeed, death rates in the NHS are going up, albeit largely among doctors. From the steel mines where child slaves gather surgical steel, all the way up to senior doctors working 36 hours on no sleep, the most healthy people in the NHS are actually the patients. This is before we get to plans for bursaries to be withdrawn from student nurses, so that we’re now essentially asking them to pay to work. Student nurses are essential; not only are they a vital part of staffing hospitals, they’re usually the only people there able to smile at a dying patient without screaming: “TAKE ME WITH YOU!”
The real reason more people die at weekends is that British people have to be really sick to stay in hospital at the weekend, as hospitals tend not to have a bar. We have a fairly low proportion of people who are doctors, don’t plan to invest in training any more, and are too racist to import them. So we’re shuffling around the doctors we do have to the weekend, when not a lot of people are admitted, from the week, when it’s busy. This is part of a conscious strategy to run the service down to a point where privatisation can be sold to the public as a way of improving things.
Naturally, things won’t actually be improved; they’ll be sold to something like Virgin Health. Virgin can’t get the toilets to work on a train from Glasgow to London, so it’s time we encouraged it to branch out into something less challenging like transplant surgery.
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