‘You are either in a lot of trouble or are just the sort of twisted mind we need’

Dear Diary

I can’t put this in a memo to Dom for reasons that will become clear. I’m still at the SHA headquarters and things have taken a very strange turn.

Mean Dean Dean took me aside while a chap from Connecting for Health I was talking to popped his third Mogadon.

‘Paul, mate,’ smarmed Dean. ‘I want to talk to you on the QT about this little project we have got going that we think will be right up your street.’

We walked past a group of foundation trust chief executives. It looked like someone from Monitor was helping them compare the size of their packets with the aid of a magnifying glass, but I couldn’t be sure.

We headed to Mean Dean Dean’s office. Dropping the geezer talk, Dean spun round, grabbed me by the shoulders and gazed into my eyes.

‘Paul, we have been monitoring your memos to Dom,’ he said, ‘and you are either in a lot of trouble or just the sort of twisted mind we need.’

Before I could answer he turned to a huge SHA model and pressed the miniature secure unit. The whole model moved aside and a hidden staircase leading down appeared.

We went down four flights of stairs and emerged into a morgue-like area, full of bodies on operating tables surrounded by technicians.

‘Welcome to Project Stepford,’ said Dean. ‘We are manufacturing the next generation of PCT chief executives. The project has been going on for about seven years and there have been problems, but we think we?ve cracked it.

‘All PCT chief executives are produced and repaired here,’ he went on. ‘They are designed not to think, which no-one seems to have noticed as a problem, but the target and finance chips cannot operate at the same time. It confuses the whole unit and it goes into meltdown.’

He explained that there had been a major recall of units, which were now being put through a recovery process.

‘We have piloted the new unit at a few trusts and it seems to be going well. We have even managed to make a few economies,’ he said.

‘We found a box of charisma microchips that had been overlooked and can use them now. It’s not a problem; they work perfectly well without them.’

To be continued?