It’s another busy morning in the Eoin O’Duffy Memorial Infirmary, aka Blueshirt General. Hospital master Leo Varadkar tours the wards, accompanied by matron Frances Fitzgerald.
Varadkar (stopping by a patient’s bed and examining chart): Who do we have here?
Fitzgerald: It’s the Joint Committee on the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.
Varadkar: Strange name – although who am I to talk? What’s it’s problem?
Fitzgerald: Crisis pregnancy. We think the foetus has the potential to threaten the life of the mother… (she lowers her voice and leans into Varadkar) and possibly of the hospital as well.
Varadkar (performing ultrasound scan while studying screen): I can’t see anything.
Fitzgerald: Well it’s still very much in the embryonic stage.
Patient: Can we take it you’ll support us whatever decision we make, doctor?
Varadkar: Yes, probably. Although it’s a complex issue, so I’d like to get a second opinion. And, as it happens, my second opinion is no.
Varadkar: Yes, I’m officially in two minds. But I’ll tell you what. Let’s just wait until we see the shape of this thing (he pats the patient’s belly). I might make a decision then.
In the operating theatre, a patient is undergoing emergency surgery, between screams.
Varadkar (to surgeon): What happened him, Dr Ross?
Shane Ross: Poor chap. Something blew up in his face. I’ve been extracting bits all morning.
Michael O’Leary (for it is he): Ouch!! That really hurts, Doc. When is the anaesthetic supposed to kick in, anyway?
Ross: You were expecting anaesthetic? Sorry. You’re booked in for the no-frills surgery.
O’Leary: Ah, for f**k’s sake! Ouch! All right – I want to be upgraded to the full epidural, now.
Ross: You’re out of luck, Mick. All our anaesthetists are on holiday – we had a problem with the annual leave backlog.
O’Leary: Arrgh! F**k!
Ross: But look on the bright side – our operation’s very cheap.
Varadkar (laughing and heading for the door): Don’t forget to charge him extra for the stitches, doctor.
In a ward on the hospital’s left wing, Dr Varadkar turns suddenly sarcastic after listening at length to a female patient complaining about her treatment.
Varadkar: May I take this opportunity to compliment you, Deputy McDonald, on the flawless delivery of your script?
Mary Lou McDonald (for it is she): I beg your pardon? Varadkar: The pauses, the intonation, everything. You must have spent ages rehearsing?
McDonald: Maybe you’d just answer my questions, Mr Smarty-Pants?
Varadkar: I thought you left-wingers had all the answers already. You’re always so good at diagnosing society’s problems and saying how you’d cure them. So check your script – all the information you need is probably already in it.
A group of hospital (law and) orderlies burst into applause nearby.
Fitzgerald: Keep it up, Leo. The Blueshirt grassroots love it when you have a go at lefties.
McDonald: Anyway, who are you to talk about people being scripted? Mr PR himself. It’s a wonder you still have time to turn up here. Surely there’s a photo op to attend?
Varadkar (looking at watch, startled): Gosh, you’re right, Mary Lou. My weekly spontaneous video presentation is in five minutes and I haven’t learned the lines.
The A & E department, later. The place is full of alcoholics and binge drinkers suffering the after-effects of a rough weekend.
Varadkar: This is why the hospital’s new campaign to reduce alcohol intake in the community is so important. By the way, is that Doctor Twomey, who used to work in St Enda’s? I didn’t realise he was back with us?
Fitzgerald: He’s not. He’s the medical director of something called Drinkaware now – it’s an industry lobby group.
Liam Twomey: (handing Varadkar his card): Hi Leo. I’m just here to tell people to drink alcohol sensibly.
Varadkar (noticing patient with hatchet in his head): The advice is a bit late in his case. Wait. Isn’t that Ciaran Conlon who used to work for us too?
Twomey: Yes, he’s doing some work for the Responsible Retailing of Alcohol in Ireland group. Similar line of business.
Varadkar: And that guy over there. Wasn’t he part of Dr Coveney’s staff?
Conlon: Yes. I think he’s lobbying for IBEC’s Alcohol and Beverage Foundation.
Varadkar: Jesus. I knew this job drives a lot of people to drink eventually, but this is ridiculous.
A man dressed as a bishop limps past, badly bruised and with a mitre wrapped around his neck.
Varadkar (to Dr Harris, who is treating him): Don’t tell me – a drunken fancy dress party?
Simon Harris: No, he’s a real bishop. He just made some unfortunate comments about the HPV vaccine.
Varadkar: So somebody beat him up?
Harris: I did it for his own good.
Credits and music roll. Varadkar and Fitzgerald look at each other wryly.
Varadkar: We’re working in a mad house, matron.