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Migrant chickens blamed for NHS crisis


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Thursday, 9 June 2016

Migrant chickens blamed for NHS crisis

Migrating chickens have been blamed for delays in discharging people from hospital – a situation that NHS bosses say will only get worse.

Critics say that increasing numbers of chickens “coming home to roost” are causing a shortage of hospital beds, queues at A&E departments and long waits for appointments at doctors’ surgeries.

Attempts by successive governments to shoo them away or wring their necks have failed, they argue.

The chickens’ union said so-called “bird blocking” was a symptom of systemic problems.

“My members need to get a bit of kip after a hard day scratching for a living. Cuts to local authority budgets mean there’s nowhere else for them to go but the nearest hospital or GP surgery,” a spokeswoman said.

No free range option

A leading think tank said it had been warning the government for years that underfunding of services would cause a build-up of chickens in the system.

“Without investment in IT, premises, workforce, training and viable alternatives to hospital care we shouldn’t be surprised that the NHS is struggling to cope,” a spokesman said.

Only “genuine roosters” should be allowed to use public services, according to a government spokesman. “Obviously we sympathise with those who are fleeing oppressive regimes in the countryside, but that doesn’t mean giving an open ticket to anyone who just fancies a more comfortable place to perch at the UK taxpayer’s expense.”

Frequent flyers

The government has announced a strategy to deal with the crisis. It includes:

  • £10m to pay PR people to write press releases and come up with a catchy name
  • £5m for strategic acronym development and leafleting
  • Foxes to patrol hospital car parks
  • Bird scarers at the entrance to A&E departments and chicken mesh for GPs
  • Training to help primary care staff identify frequent flyers.  

Brexit campaigners are promising an immediate ban on the cross-border movement of poultry if Britain votes to leave the EU later this month.

Leave supporters say that chicken migration will increase under EU plans for ever closer union. “If Brussels gets its way we’ll be the roosting capital of Europe,” said one. “It’s only a matter of time before we have Turkey to contend with as well, which could overwhelm our public services.”

The Remain camp remains adamant in its view that the chicken problem can only be solved by pan-European cooperation.

“They may be horrible noisy creatures with limited intelligence and disgusting habits, but they are also our European neighbours and we need to work together,” said a Remain spokeswoman.

No resettlement settlement

In a statement the Department of Health said it was in talks with chickens’ representatives and stakeholder organisations to negotiate a deferred roosting agreement, under which the chickens would postpone mass migration.

“We’re confident that the chickens will play their part in helping us address the financial challenge by suspending non-essential roosting activity until the chancellor has balanced the books, the NHS is living within its means and global prosperity has returned,” said a spokesman.

Poultry editor: Julian Patterson


Carol Munt
Carol Munt says:
Jun 10, 2016 08:07 AM

Shouldn't that be 'breggsit campaigners'?

Julian Patterson
Julian Patterson says:
Jun 10, 2016 09:43 AM

How did I miss that? :)

trevor jenkins
trevor jenkins says:
Jun 10, 2016 08:51 AM

Any Ornithologist (not a Clinical Speciality) will tell you that chickens don't migrate. They do fester up Flu virus and can transmit it to birds that do migrate. So your article may in parts be indirectly scarily close to a potential reality! But we have medicines to prevent and treat Influenza and Pandemic Flu and sequelae, so no worries. Death may be cost-effective in the NHS even if it doesn't do much for Society and social structure and function.
There are too many Cluckers in the NHS. Other terms are available.

Julian Patterson
Julian Patterson says:
Jun 10, 2016 09:46 AM

Precise as ever Trevor. "Migration" is a rather broad interpretation of "ooming home to roost". They don't fly too well, either.

Judith Wardle
Judith Wardle says:
Jun 10, 2016 09:16 AM

One of your best -- thanks for the much needed laugh. I had been wondering what creatures we, the patients, would become under the "transformation" plans. In Oxon it appears that BOB might know.

Julian Patterson
Julian Patterson says:
Jun 10, 2016 09:52 AM

Thanks, Judith.

Emma Self
Emma Self says:
Jun 10, 2016 01:06 PM

Your blog always ends my week with a smile, I especially love the strategy!

Julian Patterson
Julian Patterson says:
Jun 10, 2016 01:24 PM

Thank you, Emma.

petrina trueman
petrina trueman says:
Jun 14, 2016 03:32 PM

"Turkey to contend with"! wonderful. Nearly fell off my perch!