Under the new strategic plan for the NHS – “Saving Money, Lives Optional” – penicillin will be phased out in favour of a vegetable oil-based substitute.
‘Most people can’t tell if they’re taking real penicillin so why waste money?’ a government spokesman said. ‘The cash we save can be spent on better cancer prevention services’, he added before clutching his belly and rocking back and forth with laughter. ‘Or maternity services!’ spluttered another spokesman, his face red with suppressed mirth. After a few minutes they composed themselves and stopped corpsing long enough to resume speech.
‘If we’re going to make this thing profitable . . . ‘ one said, before being kicked by the other. ‘What I meant to say was, if we’re to achieve the efficiencies we need from the NHS prior to the IPO, we need to cut unnecessary fat from its budgets. For example head injuries have been treated for centuries with a dab of butter . . .’
‘Butter?’ I ask. ‘You’re proposing rubbing butter on head injuries?’
‘Not Lurpak’, he clarified. ‘Danepak or margarine work just as well. Far cheaper than scanners and neurosurgery. It’s all there, peer reviewed in JOWMA’
I look at him blankly. ‘JOWMA?’
‘Journal of the Old Wives Medical Association’ he replied with a weary sigh. ‘I thought you were the medical correspondent? Their vaccine supplement is excellent. Who knew they caused cancer?’
I asked which companies would be supplying the penicillin substitutes and the spokesmen became evasive. One muttered something about the Prime Minister’s wife and the other hastily added that ‘everything will be declared, just as soon as it’s rumbled’.
So that’s that. Don’t get an infection, or if you do, become a merchant banker first so you can afford the good stuff. I’m off to buy some Danepak for the first aid kit.