Monday, 15 February 2010

Tales from the Out Patient Gulag: General Gordon versus Gordon Pasha.

We are sure many people in the UK will have seen Charlton Heston portray General Gordon as a heroic character in the 1966 film Khartoum.

In the same way that the once great British Empire has crumbled, as do all things great, including the NHS, we in the UK are seeing a once popular Government slowly sinking into the quagmire of oblivion. Any drowning soul clings desperately on to survival and grabbing at anything to try and maintain its expenses is vital to those in the political classes.

So as General Gordon walked down to face the enemy so the mighty Gordon Pasha might have to face the electorate in a similar “heroic” gesture in the fairly near future albeit after a Piers Morgan media special.

He, and his government, as have all governments before them, have decided that all of the evil scum on a benefit should have to go for an “interview” to weed out the greedy expense claiming MPs that are bankrupting the economy by getting paid large amounts of "benefit" to do nothing to see if any of them are capable of some form of real "work".

Nothing new there as history tends to repeat itself as the Conservatives in the 1990s decided that all people on the “sick” or unemployed should go for a “medical” to see if there were ill or otherwise fit for work when there were no real jobs available.

And guess what? Most of them were actually sick and millions was spent to confirm the fact that the vast majority of UK doctors know who is, or is not, fit for work. More spent to save money than money actually saved.

If you think you will never ever claim Incapacity Benefit think again, and think hard. If you are off sick with anything for more than 26 weeks and employed you too could become a member of the evil scrounging benefit scum that Gordon Pasha so despises and is after.

So our relative, who has a recurrence of a cancer, and who cannot work due to paralysis of a limb vital to their work is summoned to a Job Centre just 2 days before they are due to start chemotherapy.

Doctors and nurses will know that you do not do chemotherapy for a laugh or it would be a controlled drug and dealers would be selling it on the streets. For some reason they are not but the Benefit’s Agency, under Gordon Pasha, knows best and they are there to stop the scrounging scum.

An interesting experience for someone who has worked non stop (cancer treatment aside) since they were 18. Did we mention they have also paid, and are still paying, taxes?

So as a dutiful relative we took our relation to the Job Centre for a “Return to Work” interview 2 days before starting chemotherapy. This cost us, and relative, money and time and inconvenienced our relative who knew what was coming. They had had chemotherapy before and were dreading it - but still they went.

Job Centres have changed a little since some of us were medical students and used to be able to sign on as scrounging benefit scum and we got grants as well.

Now under Za Nu Labour, the Party of the people and working class, where students are encouraged to have loans and acquire debts before being allowed to pay taxes and so contribute to the stable economy and pay for it ad nauseum – we think we may be off on one so back to the plot.

We reported at the desk and noted a “customer care officer” dressed in a uniform like a policeman with an ear piece in their ear standing by an Ann Robinson like lectern and were guided to the part of the Job Centre where we were to meet an operative called “Diane” who had spoken to our relative half an hour earlier to confirm that they would be attending.

“Diane” had heard (a week earlier after a whole load of forms had been filled in) that they were due to start chemotherapy. Indeed our relative was on the way out of the house and said the same to “Diane” when she phoned to check that our relative was well enough to attend. Nice caring people those who work in jobcentreplus as they are now called. We are still trying to work out what the plus is over the old jobcentres.

We were ushered to the opposite end of a room and told that “Diane” would be informed we were there as “Diane” was busy.

After watching 3 loads of Waynes, Darrens and Shazas come and go for their “hour” long “interviews” (it said so in the letter), the Job Centre floor walker who every 5 minutes had walked by from one end of the room to the other said:

You are wearing a shirt and tie and a suit and have been waiting a long time who were you due to see?”

Bright boys and girls those fraud busting benefit workers they even have a memory and can observe things in half an hour so none of the 3 lots of Waynes, Darrens and Shazas we had seen come and go while we were waiting were going to leave this morning without a job after their “hour” long interviews.

This “operative” went to see what had happened and we were rapidly shunted to see “Diane” faster than you could get Gordon Pasha to be run over by a cort├Ęge in Wooton Bassett (if he survived the crowd standing along the road).

Now one of our observations compared, with the 1970s and 1980s, was how well presented the Job Centre staff were. None that we had seen thus far were over weight they were smartly dressed and generally respectful until we met “Diane”.

“Diane” had been busy at her desk, no doubt eating the cream cakes that contributed to her 30 stone 5 foot nothing physique. We had seen no-one walk to or from her desk in the half hour we had been waiting and sitting looking directly at her location although we did not know this.

Despite having been allegedly told that we were at the opposite end of the open plan office Diane had made no effort to move from her desk. She had not even picked up the phone although she had an hour earlier (by this time) to confirm that our relative was coming.

Lots and lots of empty apologies for eating another half hour’s worth of cream cakes and happily doing nothing. (No doubt someone realized a target was being missed as well?).

Then the “interview” begun in an open plan office (no confidentiality here comrade your bail conditions and our medical problems are all in the public domain).

We had up to now spent half an hour listen to Wayne explain about how his bail conditions meant he could never work (Wayne was a drug addict and a patient) while at the same time Tony was asking how long he had to wait for his interview for benefit that was delaying him from going for a real chance of a job by going to a real job interview.

“Diane”, whom we sure was highly qualified in something useful other than lard, had great trouble understanding medicine and how chemotherapy kicked the sh*te (sorry for the grunt speak) out of you but she did try. She thought she had seen one other “client” who had had this treatment but couldn't remember much it was so many cream cakes ago.

She did, after a bit of prompting agree to suspend the monthly interviews for Incapacity Benefit for 6 months (lots and lots of subtle hints re compromised immune system, being knackered etc slowly penetrated the lard) and told us if someone summoned us to a medical that we should “tell them” (like we had told “Diane” before this one?) and “something” should be done.

She gave us some leaflets which had the infamous “Choice” logo word on it combined with the NHS logo and these explained something to us that as GPs no-one has told us about.

It is called the “Condition Management Programme”. For a while now we all have received letters saying that patient X had completed theirs and with no medical information on them they were sent to as GPs. Until now we just ignored them.

Now we know what these we will continue to ignore them as they are medically irrelevant and no help to our patients. So our time spent was not completely wasted?

Praise be to the Party and Gordon Pasha for halting the evil Incapacity Benefit scrounging scum.

He like General Gordon will see the net result of their endeavours hopefully on the steps of some once proud building. While history may suggest that one Gordon may be seen as a hero the other will be seen as someone who did not save a soul by all his endeavours but has placed a burden on all of us for decades to come.

But at least he allows “Diane” to get paid to eat her cream cakes and save us from the evil scrounging benefit scum that are cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy with loss of limb function due to the diagnostic delays endemic in "world class" NHS care as well.

Well done to all the Gordons and “Diane”s you are doing a fine job.

More cream cakes anyone?

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