A simple country baker

05 May, 2006
Comment
Page 17 

Tony Phillips is past president of the NAMB and is (allegedly) retired from running Janes Pantry with 10 shops in Gloucestershire

The other day I was reading that MRSA has increased by some 22% in our hospitals. It crossed my mind that, while it is appalling and beyond my comprehension that such a disgusting lack of cleanliness should be allowed, it may just be a fiendishly clever plot by the hospitals to get themselves new customers.
Think about it! You go in to visit a friend having a baby, and you end up with a life-threatening illness. Some people will do any thing for business.And just think what a wonderful way that would be for us to increase the use of our bakeries; we could hire them out as operating theatres on slow days. After all, the health and safety police are clearly far more rigorous in enforcing cleaning standards on us than they are on hospitals.Think, too, of the interest it would create for our staff; on one table the would be cutting flapjacks; on the next, making Chelsea buns; and then, in another area, NHS staff could be doing a hip operation or remo-ving a bunion. Of course, their area would not be as clean as the rest of the bakery as we would want them to feel at home.As usual, there appears to be double standards between the public and private sectors. For example, someone gets a runny tummy and, because they had eaten a cream bun the day before, all hell breaks loose. Local press and radio tend to ask the poor baker what they believe are “reasonable” questions, such as: “Why are you poisoning our citizens?”Then there’s the usual headlines, containing all the mandatory words – Horror, Shock, Disgusting, Traumatised, Ruined our life, holiday, birthday or whatever – and the need for counselling for the whole family down to the fourth generation. Compare that with 10 people catching MRSA in hospital and the headline reads: “Ten cases of MRSA reported. Standards improving, says Minister.” What’s more, they say such daft things in hospitals – such as when the anaesthetist tells you to “breathe in, breathe out”, as if there were any other way. One piece of advice I would give to anyone in hospital is, “Always remember to guard your rear – after all, you’re in enema country!”But seriously, if we were that inefficient in the running of our bakeries, we would go bankrupt and would be sued in court forever, for breaches of health and safety rules. In short, when it is your own money, you take much better care of it and spend it far more wisely than government bodies.In the November 25, 2005 issue of British Baker, I mentioned a hospital which had spent £70,000 on a giant pebble to put outside its building. Well, surprise, surprise! That same trust is now £30 million overspent and is reducing staff and, hence, treatment. How incredible that a large section of the public still appears to believe that higher taxes equate to better services.I am considering giving Chancellor Gordon Brown all my income and letting him give me back the taxes he takes from me; that way I will be better off and it will save me a lot of time used in filling out forms. He reminds me of the type of politician that attends a funeral and then goes up to the widow and says: “Have a nice day.”



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