30th March 2015

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Dame Julie Mellor, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman in conversation with Roy Lilley

Is the PHSO fit for purpose?

King's Fund 15th April Details here

News and Comment from Roy Lilley

The early morning Saturday sun was casting long shadows between the stalls. The burger van was wafting an evil smell of onions over the nearby rails of dresses. Already the street market was in full swing. Halfway along the row a crowd had gathered. A tall man, in a sheepskin coat was shouting...


"Come on girls, gather round... have I got a treat for you... a treat for the kids... a treat for yer mum and dad... and a treat for yer old man..."


The crowd edged closer.


"You know you want it... you know you can't do without it... and I've got it for yer this mornin'..."


A large woman elbowed her way to the front. She sensed a bargain.


"It's big and it's blue

And I've got it for you...

You can 'ave it in the mornin'

You can 'ave it a nite...

I've got the best price, coz I know money's tite..."


Across the street the market inspector stepped into the shadows. He knew a Trading Standards 'issue' in the making when he saw one...


"Right girls and boys... for you, my special deal this mornin' is the good old NHS... not yer usual NHS... Oh no... I've got an NHS for you that is bigger and better... with a bonus... you can 'ave it wen U want it... in the morning... at tea-time... at the weekend... I'll keep it up all night..."


The woman on the fruit and veg stall next door shouted; 'More than my old man can!'


The crowd roared with laughter.


Honest Dealer Dave sensed he was on a winner.


'Come closer girls... trust me... I can keep it goin' all hours... I can give you Dr Kildare, Dr Findlay and Doctor Spock... Mother Theresa, Florence Nightingale and Holby City ... not once a week... not twice a week... not just in the week... not just at the weekend... I can give you the NHS... all day every day... 24-7... and with a special Saturday morning market bonus... not just for the first come and first served... for all of you... I'll throw in all night as well!"


The crowd roared their approval; 'How much?' shouted a skinny man with a shaved head and a tattoo on his neck; 'You ain't givin' it away!'


Dealer Dave shouted back; "Oh yes I am... all I want is the one fing money can't buy. Give it to me and it'll cost yer nuffin... no raised taxes... no increase in VAT... everyfin is free... just give us yer vote..."


The large woman shouted; 'You can 'ave mine and me old man's


'Me too...' shouted another. The crowd surged forward.


Dealer Dave never noticed the market inspector had crossed the street and was joined by two burly assistants. Before he knew it he was in the back of a van on the way to the Police Station.


Street trading without a licence, Trading Standards, obtaining votes by deception, false promises, bribery, trickery... the charge sheet went on and on.


Back in the market the crowd had turned its attention to the Army of Salvation who had started to tune up. They were always popular. Their trombones and trumpets blazed golden in the sunlight. Their crimson cap bands a jaunty touch.


The preacher stepped forward. He didn't look old enough. Geeky and gangly. Huge dark eyes on the lookout for sinners; "We are here to play the music of salvation... please join us in our joyful singing..."


The brass band struck up;


'The NHS is ours,

We love it,

We think it's heaven sent...

We'll keep the private sector out of it...

And cap their profits at 5 percent...'


Always a favourite; the woman on the fruit and veg stall hummed along. The big woman clapped her hands. The man with the shaved head whistled the tune.


A thin girl, a crimson ribbon tied into her auburn hair, banged a tambourine and rattled a collection box. Children dance to the sound of the big, bass drum and people went about their weekly shop with a smile on their face.


There was a funny smell in the market that morning. Maybe the breeze had changed direction and it was the onions...


... the election bidding war has begun.

Tory NHS promises here

Labour here. 


The Office of the Health Ombudsman under huge pressure from Commons Select Committee. 

Come and hear Dame Julie Mellor in conversation with Roy Lilley - details here 

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Dame Julie Mellor
Parliamentary & Health Service Ombudsman
Come and hear Dame Julie in conversation with
Roy Lilley
Just what impact has the PHSO had on better care?
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15th April 2015
King's Fund
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