British hospitals are currently facing significant cuts and changes to the way they operate. However one hospital has managed the amazing feat of massively cutting costs while still exceeding government targets. I took a tour of Dorking's Idi Amin Hospital where the motto is "doctoring is in our blood".
Instead of expensive human nurses tending to patients' needs, they have robot matrons on all wards. When a patient wants something, they can push a button to summon one. The robot matron can then connect the patient directly to a call centre in India, where they can make a complaint, or ask for anything they desire.
To add a little personal touch and light relief to the robots' role, the call button plays a recording of the Carry On films' Kenneth Williams leering "Oooh, matron!" I asked one of the patients if they found this irritating. He said, "After the 100th 'Oooh, matron!' of the day, the irritation gives way to grudging acceptance."
Surgery is another area which has been made very efficient. Patients are delivered to the operating theatre via converted rubbish chutes from the wards above. The head surgeon is, perhaps unsurprisingly, a robot. Captain Slashy won Robot Wars a few years ago, shortly before passing his medical exams. When the hospital's recruitment team ran time trials for disembowelment, he beat off all competition with his mechanical chainsaw arms.
Unsuccessful operations are quickly tidied up by a cleaning robot who sweeps up all the dead patients and any leftover limbs into a chute that leads deeper into the building.
The hospital has already fulfilled its survival quota for this year, so Captain Slashy has been set to "sloppy" mode because it doesn't matter if he kills any more patients. He has a kill rate of 8% at the hospital, outperforming most human surgeons.
Yesterday a routine liver transplant operation ended in a bloodbath, but because the survival quota has already been met, the unfortunate deaths will not affect the hospital's official performance statistics, which are exemplary.
My last stop in the hospital visit was a trip to the canteen. The food in particular has been praised for its originality and quality. The chef is Captain Slashy, who prepares meals in between operations. His scalpel fingers are perfect for dicing vegetables. Today, the special meal of the day is chopped liver.
Manager Rick Ghastly explained why his hospital is so good at meeting targets. "We focus purely on meeting our targets, and don't waste time on other matters like patient care - unless we have a target for it. But we have targets for everything. We even have a target to measure how many targets we should exceed, and this year we've exceeded that target too."
Recycling is also important to the hospital's methods. "Nothing is wasted around here. The toilets are connected directly to our own bio-waste generator which powers our robots. Our plasters and drugs are 100% recyclable. And our canteen food comes from...er...a special supplier."
He explained his plans for the future. "Ideally we'd like to get away from our main business of NHS cattle - I mean patients - and focus on the really profitable area of fee-paying customers. People shouldn't have to wait until they're ill to visit the hospital. We'd like to encourage people to come here for an appendectomy holiday. It doesn't matter if they don't need an appendectomy, they don't need their appendix anyway. While here they can sample our first class catering facilities. Our chef does a delicious appendix casserole."
Dorking's Idi Amin Hospital has been praised by PM David Cameron, and is likely to be used as a model for all hospitals in future.