This is the first of my sketches that appeared in the show on Wednesday. It's about treating physical health as mental health. It went down really well and got a lot of positive feedback from the audience.
Reception of an A&E. Two people come in, one of them has a broken leg. There is a receptionist at a desk.
Person A Please, can you help? I think my friend has broken his leg.
Person B (groaning in pain)
Receptionist Ok, (exasperated) let’s see if I can get you an appointment.
Person A An appointment, what are you talking about? Didn’t you hear me, I think he’s broken his leg and needs to see a doctor now.
Receptionist Right, I can get you in on the 29th.
Person A The 29th? But that’s 2 weeks away.
Receptionist I’m sorry but that’s the earliest appointment I have.
Person A An appointment? He needs a doctor now.
Receptionist Well, I’m afraid you can’t. All health problems require you to make an appointment so that you can be referred for treatment.
Person A What do you mean, referred? You mean the doctor isn’t going to fix his leg?
Receptionist No, he’s not qualified, he will have to refer him to a specialist.
Person A Are you kidding me? His leg is broken. Look! He can’t walk on it. He needs to see a doctor now.
Receptionist I’m sorry but that isn’t possible, it’s the new rules.
Person A What new rules?
Receptionist Health care has been equalised.
Person A What do you mean equalised?
Receptionist From now on all physical and mental health problems are to be treated equally. There’s to be no difference between them.
Person A What? This doesn’t make sense. I mean, this is A & E. He had an accident and this is an emergency. Why does he have to wait two weeks now?
Receptionist Well, you still can be seen in an emergency. I mean if he had broken both legs and arms, then you would be deemed to be completely incapacitated. So he might get seen then.
Person A What? This is insane! What the hell is he supposed to do until then.
Receptionist Well, make sure he doesn’t miss his appointment. They don’t like it when that happens.
Person A I mean, about his leg?
Receptionist Well, he should probably sit down more and try not to put any weight on it.
Person A Is this a joke?
Receptionist I’m sorry but that’s the way it is.
Person A I don’t fecking believe this, are you serious? I mean, a broken leg! Can you understand what that means? He won’t be able to work or anything
Receptionist Oh, work? Oh, I can assess him for that. I went through the training program last Wednesday afternoon. (gets up and walks over to person B) Can you raise your hands up over your head?
Person B raises his hands.
Receptionist Can you stand up?
Person B stands up (leaning on one leg) Can you move a bit? (hops along for a couple of steps) Ok, you can sit down now. (to person A) See, he can still work.
Person A How can he work with a broken leg?
Receptionist Well, what does he do?
Person A He’s a painter.
Receptionist Well, there you go, he can still paint, he’d be able to do it sitting and he can stand for a bit too.
Person A Jesus, I don’t believe this. And how do you assess someone who’s ill with something like depression?
Receptionist Well, the same way. If you can move you can work, that’s the policy. So now, does he want the appointment or not?
Person A Good God, what a set up....do you want the appointment? (to person B)
Person B Yes! YES! For God’s sake, YES! (groaning in pain)
Another person comes in holding his chest.
Person C Help, I’m having terrible chest pains!
Receptionist Look, I told you last week, your appointment’s on Friday.
Person C Man lets out a loud groan and collapses in to the seat next to Person B,.
Person A I don’t believe that just happened? (incredulous)
Receptionist (Lifts the phone) We have another one, can you come and well, you know........
In the background person B is poking and looking at the collapsed man. Two people come in and drag him off
Receptionist Well, that was a bit of luck.
Person A Sorry?
Receptionist For your friend....an appointment has just opened up for Friday.
Person A What?
Receptionist Well, do you want it or not?....The appointment?
Standing looking bewildered and shaking his head.
Person B Take the appointment! Take the appointment! (shouting)
Receptionist Ok, we’ll see you on Friday morning at 10.30, don’t be late.
Person A So, how long will it be after he’s seen the doctor?
Receptionist Well, once he gets his referral, his name will go on the list.
Person A What? A list?
Receptionist Yes, everybody goes on the list now.
Person A Sorry, just bear with me for one minute. He can’t see a doctor for 2 weeks (trying to stay calm)
Receptionist Now, now that’s not true, don’t forget, he got an appointment for Friday.
Person A Ok... he did......but then he has to go on a waiting list. (taking deep breaths) Ok, now how long is the waiting list?
Receptionist Well, the waiting list at the moment is 10 months.
Person A 10 months! You cannot be serious!!? 10 months! To see someone to fix a broken leg. This is a joke, this has to be a joke! (exploding with anger) How the hell is he supposed to manage for 10 months with a broken leg?
Receptionist Well, as I said before it would probably be best to sit down more. You know, I saw this in a film one time. A man was injured out in the jungle, it was his leg too, and they tied a piece of wood to it and taped it up. You could try that. It would keep him going,... you know.....until you get to see the specialist. And, you never know....you might get lucky again.
Person A What do you mean, lucky? Again?
Receptionist Well, someone might...you know...(lowering her voice) pass on...
Person A What?
Receptionist Pass on... you know...like before...(nodding over in the direction of the man who collapsed) that’s been happening a lot recently. We’re saving an absolute fortune. The government thinks it’s great. It’s a wonder someone didn’t think of it before.
Person A What the hell is going on here? (almost hysterical)
Receptionist Well, I don’t know what you mean?
Person A I brought my friend in here, he can’t see a doctor for 2 weeks and then he’s going to have to go on a list and wait another 10 months.
Receptionist But he’s seeing the doctor on Friday. You were lucky, other people have to wait too, you know.
Person A And this is supposed to be a health SERVICE?
Receptionist Well, it’s not my responsibility, I don’t even vote so don’t blame me for what the government does...(getting angry, she stands up) and anyway that’s how it’s been for mental health for years and I didn’t hear you complaining then.
Person A What are you talking about, you....you....?
Receptionist Look, that’s the way it is and there’s nothing you can do about it. You were lucky he got an appointment for Friday. My friend’s son had depression and killed himself before he even got to see the doctor. You should think yourself lucky he only has a broken leg!
Person A Standing, looking at her with his mouth open
Receptionist Well, it’s time for my break....(leaves)
Person A moves over to person B
Person A I don’t believe this...(stunned) I’m sorry. (helps him up, he groans and they move towards the exit).....here I tell you what...my brother in law has a pair of crutches....from when he broke his ankle, remember......playing footie. I’m sure he would lend them to you.....(they hobble off stage)
New commentI was laughing as I started reading this but then I realised it is not in the least bit funny as it is fast becoming reality. The Health Centre in our village closed 2 years ago and now we have a 12 mile journey into town to see a doctor. And you need to book 2 weeks in advance, so by the time your appointment comes round you've either recovered or died! And don't start me on the local bus service !! Reduced from 18 per week to 5. Just don't get sick here on a Tuesday!! Good old Tories!!