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If you don't hear it, you can't act on it

A 'listening exercise' gives a health minister chance to pretend to listen to the public in the latest from Through the K Hole

A 'listening exercise' gives a health minister chance to pretend to listen to the public in the latest from Through the K Hole



'We can give a cast iron guarantee to the people of this country that we will only pretend to listen to them.' That was the promise made this week by a cabinet facing increasing political pressure to revise its new NHS reforms.

The health minister continues: 'We unreservedly say to the many thousands of GPs up and down the country who may have concerns about the white paper that the listening exercise will fall far short of expectations.'

'We can say this with the utmost confidence because members of the panel have been carefully selected and were subjected to an intensive programme of re-education, and by re-education I mean wires, nipples and a big bucket of salty water'.

'During the "natural pause" before the bill is passed I can reassure people that definitive changes will be made. I have no doubt that we will find an odd spelling mistake here and there and personally I've already spotted an out of place semi-colon.'

In order to make the listening exercise as unsuccessful as possible the head of communication studies at Axminster University, Professor Candid, was drafted in for his opinions.

He advised the Government: 'When my wife tells me to stop leaving my underpants under the bed I go yeah yeah yeah, and roll my eyes up. That's the kind of listening you should be aiming for'.

He also helpfully added, 'If those involved in the listening exercise feel tempted to actually listen I suggest that they rip off a corner of the white paper and stuff it into their ears, this should prevent any extraneous sounds from accidentally filtering into their brains. Remember if you don't hear it you can't act on it.'

In a recent opinion poll over 95% of GPs said that they were tired of being openly bitch-slapped in public by an uncaring Government whilst an incredible 73% said that they rather enjoyed it, particularly at weekends.

One of the panel members, rumoured to be called Steve, says: 'The white paper offers a wonderful opportunity for the NHS, our plans to modernise will help put professionals in the driving seat... Why did you stop me?... That was the right answer wasn't it ? Please, please don't press the button again....oh God, no, the pain!'

An unemployed plasterer from Crawley who has never been listened to in his life says: 'Aside from sitting around in loose-fitting underwear listening to Happy House music I like to craft meaningful, well-informed opinions on a range of subjects. I tend to do this by listening to others.'

'After all, true listening is about cultivating a deeper, quieter aspect of ourselves and it remains to be seen if the Government has both the ability and the confidence to do this.'

Dr Kevin Hinkley is a GP in Aberdeen

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