I am the estates manager of a major London hospital. Throughout the 1980s we undertook several crash programmes to convert our wards for dual-sex use.
For the past few years, of course, we have been trying to convert them all back again. This is both tiring and stressful. What do you suggest we could do to avoid this sort of wasteful effort?
'Wren', London What a tizzy you have got yourself into! As you know, the recent government consultation document New Labour, New Sexes outlined the basic requirements for multi-sex wards. In short there is almost no change: the number of beds is the same, the number of wards is the same, the number of sexes is the same (I think), but they are just mixed up a bit differently. This is called 'listening to the patient' and 'a long-term thing that can't be done overnight'.
Obviously there are costs attached to these long-term changes in the structure of caring, but taxes and cash limits don't have to go up to pay for them. Oh no, indeed! You need to have a public privates party (PPP) which raises money for things. In the short term, you can count how many sexes you have to deal with, then count the number of wards, then count the number of sanitary annexes in those wards. This is called a critical bath analysis.
I understand that the new London mayor might have something to do with the NHS. The candidates seem to have different ideas about how you can pay for new hospitals. Some like traditional routes, some like privatisation and some like something called a partnership. Can you help me understand these different things?
'Gordon', Westminster I sometimes get depressed by how many people miss the point. The important thing is that Ken doesn't get elected.
Anyway, in outline here is the answer you want. Bonds. . .
good. Privatisation. . . bad. PPP. . . good. Traditional funding. . . bad. Frank. . . good. Ken. . . very bad. Lib Dems. . . er. . .
But the key thing is that Ken doesn't get elected because he'll invite Gerry Adams to be chief medical officer and make us all drink red coffee. Finally, when you've used your bonds to build your hospital you can get Pierce Brosnan - or preferably Frank Dobson - to open it for you.