The Department of Health’s main drive is to get the nurses not to be so grotty, while on planet Monitor they are celebrating a multi-million-pound foundation trust surplus.

To: Don Wise, chief executive

From: Paul Servant, assistant chief executive

Re: Grotty hands

Dear Don

Clever chap this Alan Johnson.

He’s got all the nurses lining up around the block screaming ‘winter of discontent’ at him if he doesn’t cough up another productivity-underachieving pay rise, and yet he magics them away.

How brilliant is this? He bungs a few pennies to their genuinely poor colleagues who aren’t too posh to wash and buys them off with the right to report directly to the board about infection control.

Who said nurses aren’t easy? Actually, don’t answer that.

So a brilliant example of industrial relations, but a rather bizarre approach to hospital-acquired infections. Let’s think about this for a minute.

Why do we have a Clean Your Hands campaign?

Is it because managers are running around stroking patients with dirty hands? No.

Is it because we don’t have enough isolation facilities? No.

Is it because the cleaner keeps missing the same patch of dirt under the bed? No.

The reason we have a Clean Your Hands campaign is because the most likely way of acquiring an infection in hospital is from someone whose infected hands have touched you, spreading lots of nasty, invisible gunk-generating stuff all over your body.

And let’s face it, that’s most likely going to be nurses and the rest of our patient-attending staff.

So we now have a deal with nurses where they can pop in to see the board whenever they fancy to complain that evil managers are the cause of plague, when the Department of Health’s main drive is to get the nurses themselves not to be so grotty.

Meanwhile, on planet Monitor they are celebrating a multi-million-pound foundation trust surplus.

This planet is obviously too close to the sun and starved of oxygen. All that dosh saved for no other purpose than to have saved it.

Maybe that’s how the Northern Rock bail-out is being funded, but it sure ain’t going into patient care any time soon.