Cancer Comic Strip

My name is Suzan St Maur and I've had cancer twice. I find that humor helps me get through my cancer, and from what I understand it helps many others too. This blog is dedicated not to information about the disease, but to cancer warriors and their relatives/friends who just want some cheering chuckles. By all means share your funny stories and jokes with us - email them to suze @ (If you want to know more about me see my profile on here or

Monday, March 28, 2011

NHS cuts in the UK: at last, some truly realistic proposals

Here in the UK we, like many other nations, have suffered a great deal as a result of the recent recession. Despite our government assuring us that the National Health Service (NHS) - which provides free healthcare for the population – is not going to suffer serious cuts, in effect and all that, the reality may be somewhat different.

However instead of looking at cuts that could affect the delivery of cancer services along with many other vital functions, perhaps the NHS could do without the following measures to improve cost-effectiveness:

Parking control gates and pay machines: expensive technology and half of them don’t work properly. Removal of these would more than compensate for the loss of parking payment revenue. All they would need now is one security guard patrolling with a large Pitbull Terrier trained to bite anyone sneaking guiltily back to their car laden with shopping bags from Tesco, Waitrose, Sainsbury, etc.

Hand sanitizers: silly little squirty boxes used mostly these days for visitors to hang their bags on while waiting for the ward doors to open immediately prior to visiting time. Far more effective – and cheaper – is to sit visitors on those awful plastic chairs at least 2 metres away from patients to avoid infection, preferably facing away from said patients. And while we’re about it why not sit them outdoors (where appropriate, i.e. probably not outside a 17th floor ward) looking into the ward where their folks are? Easy and cheap!

Extensive male and female toilets: oblige all in-patients to have urinary catheters fitted on admission and be hooked up to wee-wee bags. OK, the infection rate might rise a bit, but toilet numbers could be reduced substantially with consequently large cost savings on cleaning, plumbing repairs, removal of graffiti, etc. – a mere bagatelle compared with the cost of NICE’s latest approved bargain-basement drugs for UTIs. Frequent visitors could be offered urinary catheterisation too, to save them using visitors’ toilets which could then be reduced to a few in a shed by the main door.

Restaurants and cafés: oh, please! Who are we trying to kid? We all know that hospital food is bland, cheap and boring. So dressing that up in cutesy bright coloured packaging and calling it “Tasty Delights from the Hospital Bistro Stinko” ain’t going to impress anyone. Let’s just call it all “sludge” and be done with it. Dispense it from the rented slot machines along with the fizzy-pop drinks, stale cakes and cheap potato snacks.

TV, radio, internet, telephone, the latest from the Starship Enterprise and messages from outer space at your bedside: half the time these fancy systems cost fortunes to use. They’re manned and monitored by nice people who sweep by every few days on the ward asking if yours is working OK, because a) it usually isn’t and b) if it is most of us don’t know how to switch it on, never mind use it. I know the NHS probably gets a kick back from the companies providing these services but at what expense of having to dust and clean the damned things? Anyway, whatever happened to good old-fashioned (and free) hospital radio?

Hospital shops manned by volunteers: OK, an opportunity to use volunteers to sell books, magazines, gifts etc. to guilty visitors when they turn up and realise they’ve forgotten to bring some sort of goody to cheer up the patient their visiting. But that’s the visitors’ problem. Tell them to go across the street and buy that stuff from a supermarket or corner store, so freeing up volunteers to make tea and coffee for the patients – and/or staff - instead.

And what about out in the community? Take the automated, screen-based check-in facilities when you come to visit your GP, for example. You tap the screen with your finger and after asking you a few brainless question the computer usually finds you and checks you in. Of course it’s too easy to say hi to the receptionist you’ve known for 20 years so she knows you’re here for your appointment? People are cheaper – and a lot friendlier.

What tips have you got to help the NHS make some truly realistic cuts in the United Kingdom? Please share them here, no matter how outrageous!

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