Friday, 21 August 2015
NHS Health Warning Poster (1978)
In 1978 the Notional Health Service was struggling to cope with its lack of funds. Overspending was unavoidable and the threat of closure was ever present. However, Scarfolk Council's department for health and knitting hit upon a simple method to radically reduce spending.
Firstly, taking its lead from a household insurance policy, the council recategorised many serious (thus expensive) illnesses as ineligible for treatment. Cases were dismissed due to "general wear and tear" or "acts of god", and the council even went as far as to recommend that patients with serious physical ailments "contact the manufacturer for further assistance". Secondly, the spread of disease in hospitals was cut by 90% by removing and prohibiting sick patients.
Patients with cheaper, non-threatening conditions were admitted to NHS hospitals, but only if they understood that they might share a bed with up to 9 other patients and/or a startup business that had rented the bed as office space. Patients were also subjected to virtually costless placebo trials. In fact, all treatments in 1979 were placebos consisting of either sherbert infusions (the town mayor was a major stakeholder in a Scarfolk confectionery factory) or daily rituals conducted by a coven of witches, who chanted in hospital car parks around an effigy of a nature deity made from balloons.
The cost-cutting scheme was successful and other regions adopted the same model. Not treating people was the only way to keep the NHS a viable, going concern, permitting it to continue what it has always done best: treat people.