Roger's X Factor-style cure for crowded waiting rooms
You're familiar with the X Factor. So how about an NHS equivalent – the Ill Factor?
The idea of having fellow patients judge just how ill folk are in doctors' waiting rooms and hospital A&E departments is whimsically suggested by Shropshire dairy farmer Roger Evans in his latest book.
He sees it as a way of weeding out those who are not really ill and are clogging up the system.
His book Pull The Other One! paints a picture of an unreported war in the countryside involving a continuing battle against the activities of hare coursers and machinery thieves, as well as against the ravages of bovine TB, to which his own farm near Bishop's Castle fell victim.
It also introduces his new dog, Gomer, and the disadvantages of new technology – with the canine successfully locking Roger out of his own vehicle – as well as the gossip from his local pub.
Roger writes a weekly farming column in the Western Daily Press. He writes a new book every two years and to date they have sold over 25,000 copies.
Pull The Other One! spans 2016 and 2017 and tells how he dropped somebody at the doctor's and, asked if he was coming in to wait, made a rapid exit.
"Was there ever a better place to pick up a cough and cold than a doctor's waiting room?" he writes.
With access to GPs and A&E being headline news, and a suspicion that the whole system is clogged up by a percentage of malingerers, he suggests the GP has a corner of the waiting room in which to work.
"If you had to tell the doctor what your problem was in full view of those in the waiting room, they would judge whether it merited a visit to the doctor's or not. Who is going to tell the doctor he has an ache in his finger with 20 people looking on?
"Of course, there is a downside, there always is. People would find the whole process so interesting that doctors' waiting rooms would be packed out.
"I'd unclog A&E departments by breathalysing everyone. I'd fine them if they were over the limit for drink-driving and I'd ban them from A&E for 12 months," he writes.
Of the unsavoury activities of hare coursers, he describes how a friendly lurcher was discovered abandoned and tied to a silage bale. It turned out that the local vets had dealt with 20 lurchers over the previous month, all abandoned on farms in a similar manner, and all friendly dogs.
"If they are very friendly there's a chance they don't kill the hares to their owner's satisfaction. Some of the lurchers had been tied up for several days before they were discovered."
He also tells how an announcement that a pop star would be holding an open air concert nearby – he does not name him, but it was Sir Cliff Richard – prompted inquiries from people looking for bed and breakfast on his farm.
All those who inquired asked the same question – "If I sit in your garden will I be able to hear him sing?"
Roger said his reply was always the same – "I hope not."
Pull The Other One! is published by Ludlow-based Merlin Unwin Books and costs £12.