To: Don Wise, chief executive
From: Paul Servant, assistant chief executive
It's that time of year again! Finance directors nervously wait while auditors who weren't quite bright enough to make it on to the management training scheme fiddle with their calculators in a way reminiscent of Sicilian hitmen toying with their stiletto knives.
Of course, the effect is lost when you realise auditors really do believe that spraying yourself with Lynx will leave women quivering wrecks and that Reactolite Rapide lenses are cool.
But lo, something is amiss in the bean counters' forest today. No cries of anguish or despair. The auditor is looking crestfallen and the finance director triumphant. The NHS has delivered a£2bn, yes,£2,000,000,000, yes, two thousand million pound surplus. I wonder if Parliament intended that when it voted to put up taxes to pay for the NHS, that it should not be spent on making people better, hospitals nicer, doctors wealthier and nurses quieter.
So what could one do with all that dosh? A penny off income tax perhaps? Or you could buy a sixth of a hopeless IT system - two billion quid works out at about£33 per person. Better still you could give every man, woman and child a USB memory stick with their medical records on and an apple a day for every day of the year (at wholesale prices, of course).
You could buy your own generic pharmaceutical manufacturer and make your own pills. Or we could give every adult an HSJ subscription so they might be educated about who the real angels of the NHS are (or have their worst fears confirmed).
An alternative might be to buy one of the large management consultancies so all that money being poured down their drains at the moment would come straight back into our pockets. One might consider£2bn to be a world class profit, which then poses the question of how was this achieved before world class commissioning was introduced?
Mine's a '99 Bollinger please. A couple of cases on expenses!