In response to mounting criticism from his Liberal Democrat allies, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has announced that the controversial Health & Social Care Bill will be rewritten by acclaimed screenwriter and actor Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey.
‘After detailed discussions with my colleagues in government, it has become clear that my message – that this Bill is the best way to protect the NHS forever – may not have got through,’ Lansley said at a Whitehall press conference. ‘So what better way to make the public fall competely in love with my proposals than to get the whole thing rewritten in the style of a much-loved drama penned by the man who brought us Maggie Smith in purple crinoline?’
Sources say Lansley is preparing a slew of measures to shore up support for the Bill after he ‘began to detect’ signs of opposition from the Royal College of Surgeons, as well as the British Medical Association, nurses, consultants, patients, patient groups, carers, families, families of carers, psychiatrists, radiologists, radiographers, optometrists, therapists, physiotherapists, terrapins, occupational therapists, social workers, social care workers, dentists, Nick Hewer and Rachel Riley, GPs, MPs, MSPs, 78% of voters, and the other 22% of voters.
Fellowes, 62, was also the writer of the Oscar-winning Gosford Park and was nominated for three BAFTAs for his work on the Coroners & Justice Bill 2009. ‘I’m relishing this exciting chance to revive a national institution,’ he said. ‘The Health & Social Care Bill has all the ingredients of a great costume drama – growing class resentment between rich and poor, the shadow of impending war, a ‘will-they-won’t-they’ love story between two young toffs whose families don’t entirely approve of their relationship, and all taking place in a grand but crumbling coalition edifice that, while undoubtedly stately, probably won’t be standing in three or four years?’