Theodore Dalrymple

Global Warning | 26 January 2008

Theodore Dalrymple issues a global warning

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Theodore Dalrymple issues a global warning

Thank goodness I retired in time from the National Health Service: it has cut down enormously the number of forms I have to fill in.

The latest proto-genocidal form sent out to employees by my erstwhile employers was called ‘a data cleanse’, though it soon became known as ‘an ethnic cleanse’ since it related, inter alia, to the staff’s ethnic group. Each member of staff was asked to choose one of 17 ethnic groups to which they belonged, one of six marital statuses, five sexual orientations and nine religious affiliations.

Oh for the simple, clean lines of apartheid, when there were only blacks, whites and coloureds! This form, designed, according to the covering letter, ‘to monitor our workforce effectively and to ensure we identify, tackle and eliminate discriminatory practices,’ divides people into 4,590 possible categories. Filling in the form will also ‘help ensure that you continue to be paid correctly,’ that is to say according to your race and sexual practices.

But even this form is surely insufficient from every possible point of view. For example, among ethnic groups not mentioned in the form are Malays, Indochinese, Melanesians, Polynesians, Micronesians, Eskimos, Amerindians and Madagascans. Among religions not included are Buddhism, Animism, Spiritualism, Theosophy and Scientology; and, what is surely important in the context of discrimination, no mention is made of the four principal castes of Hinduism and untouchability. No distinction is made between Shia and Sunni Islam, and there is no mention of the Alawites. Among sexual affiliations not included are necrophilia, fetishism, sado-masochism, bestiality and auto-erotic asphyxia. This brings the number of categories of people not to be discriminated against to 5,508,000.

There is only one solution to this grave problem, of course: to increase drastically the number of bureaucrats. It is lucky that the number of beds for patients is being reduced, for this will free the necessary money.

Luckily, also, the staff are about to be trained, yet again, on ‘diversity issues’. Seven hundred of them are to be sent in batches of about 240 on three whole-day seminars on diversity to be held in a huge public arena, in the course of which they will be divided into their various religious groups (lunch, teas and coffee provided, as well as free transport).

That is the good news. The bad news is that attendance is compulsory for the staff, and those who do not obtain their certificate of attendance, signed and countersigned, will not be given a pass to the new building that is to open in the near future: that is to say, they will in effect be sacked. Thus the NHS is instituting re-education camps.

For the hospital, the seminars represent at least three man-years of labour, but that is only a small part of the cost. The arena is not cheap to hire, presumably, or the eight coaches needed twice on three different days. It is unlikely that the consultants hired to give the seminars are acting pro bono; and everyone suspects that there is some hidden quid-pro-quo-ing going on between the consultants and the management.

I have now described the whole principle of modern British public administration.