Whoopee cushions on the wards – farting every time a visitor sits down – cheeky buxom nurses in revealing costumes offering to prick your boil and dishy sex mad medics chasing every skirt in sight could be just what the doctor ordered, under an amazing new government health initiative. “We need to restore people’s faith in the National Health Service,” Prime Minister Blair told a Westminster press conference. “In recent years the general public have lost faith in the NHS, seeing at as a faceless bureaucracy divorced from their everyday needs. We need to make it fun for people again, so that they look forward to going into hospital again!” To this end, Blair is proposing to bring the ‘Carry On’ ethos back into Britain’s beleaguered hospitals, hoping to keep patients entertained with a mixture of slapstick and surgery. “When you watch those classic films today, you see that patients were so much happier then – laughing and joking with medical staff, perpetrating hilarious pranks to keep their spirits up, ” enthuses Blair. “Nowadays all you see in the NHS is doom and gloom: waiting lists for treatment, deadly viruses rampant on the wards, psychopathic staff murdering patients and incompetent doctors. I wouldn’t mind, but these bumbling medics aren’t even funny!” To recreate the wonderful atmosphere of ‘Carry on Doctor’, the government is proposing to recruit more DD busted nurses, even if this means lowering standards. It also wants medical training for new doctors to include basic mime and clowning techniques. Heading off claims that his new scheme simply represents a ‘dumbing down’ of Britain’s health care, the Prime Minister has been quick to emphasise that patients’ will a have a choice as to the style of ‘health entertainment’ they receive, with artistic programmes to cater for all segments of the population. Indeed, in a bold move, he announced that the NHS would also merge with the National Theatre, and appointed Dr Jonathan Miller as the new National Health Theatre supremo. “This is a political master stroke – the National Theatre has an established record of producing both high-brow twaddle by the likes of David Hare and populist crowd pleasers about Benny Hill and Sid James,” a Downing Street insider told us. “As for Jonathon Miller, he’s perfect for the role, combining medical training with years of experience as a director and writer.” For his part, the newly appointed Heath Theatre supremo told reporters, “I’m delighted to be offered the position, I’ve always seen the NHS as being essentially an English pantomime,” he told the press, as he unveiled his inaugural season, which is to include Sir Ian McKellan and Kenneth Branagh performing open heart surgery at the Globe Theatre, in full Elizabethan dress, using only instruments available at that time.
Whilst the inaugural Ian McKellan heart surgery season – rumoured to feature a script by noted playwright Tom Stoppard – is clearly aimed at the ‘high-art’ end of the new National Health Theatre’s clientele, a full programme of more populist events are also promised. These are to include a number of TV series, the first of which is to be Through The Keyhole Surgery, in which Lloyd Grossman inserts a fibre-optic cable into a mystery celebrity whilst Sir David Frost and his studio panel try to guess the celebrities’ identity from his internal organs. “Whose grossly inflamed liver is this?” And “What kind of person would have an embarrassing infection of the urinary tract like this?”, are just two of the questions Grossman is expected to ask. Plans are also afoot to emulate the success of popular cookery programmes with titles such as Can’t Operate, Won’t Operate, in which professional surgeons will assist keen amateurs in developing their home surgery techniques by operating on sick relatives. Another proposed programme is Ready, Steady, Cauterise, in which top doctors, assisted by celebrities, will race against the clock to save the lives of casualty patients. Before the programme each celebrity competitor will be given £5 with which to purchase what they think are suitable drugs and equipment from local chemists. In the pilot episode Brian Blessed amusingly attempts to stem a major arterial bleed with an elastoplast and a tube of pile ointment. It is expected that a legion of photogenic and amusingly eccentric celebrity surgeons will quickly supplant celebrity chefs in the public’s fickle affections. Indeed, the BBC believes that it has already found its first such novelty medics. “We’ve got a pair of grossly overweight lady surgeons to appear in Can’t Operate, Won’t Operate who do nothing but drink and smoke all through the operations”, an excited producer told us. “They are absolutely hilarious. During the pilot episode we had to open one the patients up again after they realised that they had left a half-bottle of whisky in the bloke’s large intestine.”
Finally, the government is also planning to take the Health Service back to the streets. Health Theatre supremo Miller has announced a series of events loosely labelled the “National Health Street Theatre” in which popular performers such as John Shuttleworth and Richard Digance will appear in shopping centres up and down the country with songs such as “My Mother-in-law’s Got a Disgustingly Infected Boil On Her Arse”, (Digance had a top 40 hit with this witty ditty in 1988). It is planned to coincide these appearances with medical school rag-weeks wherever possible, and have medical students on unicycles perform impromptu surgery on passers-by. Street performers will be on hand to amusingly sterilise instruments by breathing fire on them and juggle with sharp scalpels, amputated limbs, kidneys, offal and the like. However, whilst many political commentators are agreed that this new initiative has the potential to turn around the government’s flagging fortunes, it has sparked discontent amongst many Labour backbenchers, who fear that it simply a back-door way of introducing a ‘two-tier’ health service. “It’s bloody typical – your average working class patient will end up being treated by a bunch of clowns in some second-rate sitcom with cardboard sets, whilst the middle classes and intelligentsia get a big-budget modern dress Hamlet designed by Versace,” opines veteran Labour MP Bernie Tricock. “I’m telling you now, there’s no way I’d want to be treated in that vasectomy clinic they’re going to let Lee Evans run! I’d rather throw away forty years of principles and go private than put my knackers in that buffoon’s hands!” Despite the threat of a back-bench revolt, Tony Blair remains adamant that this initiative is the only way ahead for the NHS. “This has nothing to do with outmoded notions of social class – there are plenty of trendy middle class media pseudo-intellectuals who will opt for the ‘Carry On’ treatment out of a sense of post-modern irony,” he told the Commons. “This initiative is simply about placing patients in the environment most conducive to their recovery. There is no reason why being gravely ill should be such a negative experience – we want to make being sick enjoyable again! Trust me, once we do that, people will come flocking back to our hospitals!”