The government has hit on a novel way to save money this Christmas by offering pensioners the opportunity to hibernate for the next three or four months. Significant savings are expected on pensions, flu jabs and winter fuel allowances if the pilot scheme is successful.
‘Winter is a very difficult time for old people,’ explained Junior Health Minister Karen Brady. ‘Many die of flu, some slip on ice and break a hip, others are expected to visit relatives for Christmas and are distressed to see their grandchildren playing Grand Theft Auto or enjoying the overt homosexual references on a Little Britain DVD. Now they have the chance to skip all that, going to sleep in December and waking up in time to enjoy the daffodils.’
The NHS hibernation scheme is being piloted in Worthing, Sussex, where, if it is successful, around 90% of all local residents will be going to sleep for the next three months. Participants are given a nourishing milky drink which contains sleep inducing drugs and are then tucked up in bed with the teasmaid set for ‘April’. Health visitors will tiptoe in once a week to feed the goldfish and ensure that the electric blanket hasn’t been left on.
But civil liberties groups have criticised the scheme, saying that many old people are being given the drugs by their families without knowing that they will be missing months of their life. One anonymous family confessed they had forced the drink on their elderly relative. ‘This is great, we won’t have to visit her for months,’ said the victim’s son-in-law. ‘We’ve got the kids’ cash for Christmas off her; now we can put her in a coma and we won’t have to listen to all that bloody moaning about ‘queers’ getting married or ‘blacks’ reading the news.’ There has also been concern that the hibernation drug has become highly sought after by students, security guards and workers in call centres.
The Health Minister said they were listening carefully to all the objections to the pilot hibernation scheme, and that all these issues would be discussed as a matter of urgency by a Parliamentary enquiry which the government had entrusted to the House of Lords. However work on the Lords’ investigation appears to have been postponed until mid-May.