Zara Aziz: Demand is the thin end of the wedge

I am going through my emails at the end of Friday evening surgery and nearly fall off my chair as I read and re-read one email, informing me that an exceptional funding request for tonsillectomy, made that morning, has been granted.

Surely this cannot be true. After all, it is the day after all the big guns in health have been out in force trying to convince us (and themselves) that billions can be conjured up if only we can keep all the patients at home, send all the consultants out into the community and put all the GPs to work on the wards. It is all quite simple really, now someone has taken the time to explain it to us.

Later that evening over dinner, the twins fill me in on their day while Baby is busily smearing his highchair with pasta sauce (his way of saying I have ignored him for 12 hours and the same old 'busy/on call/at work' excuse just won't wash).

'Mummy, do you know corruption is getting worse every day?' My eldest makes a surprise statement. 'In what way?' I enquire.

'For instance, if you are in the right-hand queue for school lunch on Fridays, you get 12 potato wedges with your fish and peas, but if you stand in the left-hand queue, you only get six. If you ask for more, the dinner lady looks stern and shakes her head, unless you smile sweetly at her (which I do) and then she gives you heaps of everything.'

'What has corruption got to do with anything?' I ask, puzzled.

'It's because the government hasn't got enough and it has to start saving on food now as well.' My son loves to eat, although where it all goes is anybody's guess.

'I think you mean recession, not corruption, and it's probably not as bad as you think,' I explain.

His sister chips in as well. 'Maybe it's just you: who counts their potato wedges, anyway? If it's that important, why not make sure you stand in the right-hand queue?'

'Yes, but that's the longer queue and by the time my turn comes, there are no potato wedges left, because she is giving out too many.'

'It seems to me that it's the demand for your wedges that is the problem, a bit like the NHS,' I say, sympathising deeply with his dilemma.

  • Dr Aziz is a GP partner in north-east Bristol

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