‘Four black Mercedes limousines with police outriders screeched to a halt outside trust HQ heralding the arrival of the McKashsky consultants’

To: Don Wise, chief executive

From: Paul Servant, operations

Re: SHA disaster planning the hospital

Dear Don

It’s been a fascinating week as we were selected by the strategic health authority to stage a large-scale rehearsal of its disaster plan.

As you know, all parts of the NHS must have their plans in place, with the SHAs responsible for testing their robustness should the worst happen.

The confusion this week emerged from the misunderstanding of what a disaster is.

From our perspective, when the call came through things went very smoothly. A&E was cleared, the chemical suits and decontamination facilities worked well, theatres were staffed and patients discharged rapidly and safely.

Then came the problem. Four black Mercedes limousines with police outriders screeched to a halt outside trust HQ heralding the arrival of the McKashsky consultants, the SHA’s disaster recovery team. One team headed straight for the finance department while another cordoned off the building with sticky notes. A third team did an instant valuation on the inpatient and staff accommodation buildings and had erected a for sale sign within 10 minutes of arrival.

I was gold commander, standing in for you while you recovered from that vicious paper cut you sustained looking for a three-star restaurant in the Michelin guide. The lead McKashsky consultant came straight up to me with a P45 and paperwork for a month-long consultation on 1,000 job cuts. All agency staff were sent home, emergency patients refused admission and Capio invited in to measure up for curtains and carpets.

Strong words were exchanged at the debrief afterwards. Staff had excelled at doing what the punters expect of us - saving lives - but McKrapsky failed us nonetheless. It would appear the only disaster the SHA has contingency plans for is failure to achieve balance.

It was pleased at how effective its response had been - top management team replaced and trust sold within two-and-a-half hours of the emergency call from the auditors.

Their invoice is on your desk.