Spare operating department capacity? No surgeons or nurses to run additional sessions? Never fear, there is more than one way to cut waiting lists. Take a tip from artist and restaurateur Damien Hirst, and throw open your doors to the foodies (See News Focus, page 12).

If the punters are willing to spend good money to be surrounded by pharmaceutical products, then how much more would they fork out to dine beneath the halogen lights amid the gleam of surgical steel? Cash-strapped inner-London hospitals could benefit from West End crowds.

And think of the advantages: catering staff are so much cheaper than consultant surgeons, NHS operating departments tend to fall silent at just the right time of day to cater for the early evening rush, and all that money (plus tips) could be used to buy operations in the hospital up the road. It could give a whole new meaning to the idea of a pre-theatre menu.