Hard-pressed NHS services are planning to follow the lead of British Airways and Heathrow Airport, where restricting would-be holidaymakers to a holding pattern 30 miles from the nearest runway has led to an impressively improved (non)customer experience through check-in and security.
‘It came to me on an attempted weekend break to Nice,’ explained NHS Head of Logistics Tom Reduced-Means. ‘After what we thought was a very reasonable 9 hours queuing outside Gatwick short stay, we realised we were simply orbiting Bluewater Shopping Centre. Thinking we might as well try there, we enjoyed a lovely weekend sunning ourselves in the Build-A-Bear store window.
‘Returning home so refreshed gave me the idea. Who wants to spend 12 hours in an idling Bedford Bambi outside A&E, followed by 3 days on a corridor trolley being elbowed by every gasping cadaver being turned back from theatre for the fifth time? Much nicer for anorexia patients to be redirected to a nearby Harvester, or melanoma sufferers to their local tanning salon, where they can enjoy a lovely break getting upbeat texts celebrating the zero minutes’ waiting time and, possibly linked but equally inspiring, 0% death rate at their local hospital.
‘It means missing the final joy of a hospital stay - revengefully bedblocking past all recovery and decency - but if initial trials go well, we may let Priority Patience customers into hospital lobbies to marvel at the archaic pricing in the cobwebbed Boots concession - still 800% above current inflation! Those upgrading to Very Outpatient Premium can hang about the cracked concrete forecourt to their hearts’ content.
‘With no staff or patients, people-watching opportunities will be somewhat reduced: no dead-eyed, dressing-gowned wraiths clutching a drip stand and greedily forcing a Berkeley Menthol through their tracheostomy. But fishing dog ends out of the gutter still makes for a smashing day out, with a lovely souvenir to distract from your suppurating spleen.’