Talking of big knobs on TV, making his debut in front of the nation and his acolytes at the Labour Party’s conference, PM Gordy Brunhilde plc (for the man truly is an institution) took a broad-brush approach to the management of the health service. He ‘pledged’ to sweep away the problems afflicting it, calling on health secretary Alan Johnson to ensure superbugs will be wiped off the face of the NHS. He left it to the barrow-boy health chief to fill in the gaps.
As Johnson waxed lyrically about the benefits of dominatrix matrons forcing their staff to get down on their knees to give the ward some ‘deep cleansing’, Guru had to go and have a quick lie down.
But Yours Truly could not relax. Something was bugging him – and it wasn’t MRSA. It was the Taylorist – ‘me boss, you worker’ – vision of the workplace, employed by… um… Johnson’s Wax in its ground-breaking US factory at Racine [the aptness of the location did not escape Guru. Playwright Racine’s Andromache retells the story of the widow kept as a slave by tyrannical men] in Wisconsin – a thirties dreamscape where windowless office accommodation with heated rubber floors and top-lit mushroom-style columns were designed to keep the masses happy, while the masters looked down on their minions and counted their cash.
So are the UK’s hospitals to be redrawn as airless boxes with heaps of rubber? Not quite, but Big Gordy’s plan to force matrons to give hospitals a deep clean and fine those hospitals that fail, and then close wards, forcing hospitals to cut cleaning contracts, and in so doing increasing the risk of MRSA, resulting in more infection and death, leading to more fines and more ward closures, thereby keeping patients waiting for beds, thus increasing the likelihood of death before surgery, thereby reducing waiting lists, leading to doctors being laid off and hospitals being closed, saving the NHS millions, is nothing short of brilliant. Certainly a polished performance.