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21st August
Updated from time to time

Patients banned from hospitals on health grounds

Patients are to be banned from hospitals in England because they spread infection, the government has announced. From tomorrow, three-mile "exclusion zones" will be set up around whatever NHS facilities are still remaining following the current cutbacks, with only medical staff, managers and accredited journalists allowed inside the cordon. Police marksmen and traffic wardens armed with tasers will enforce the ban on movement.

"This is an entirely sensible precaution," said Health Secretary Alan Johnson. "Governments have known for decades that infections are brought into hospitals by ill people, who then pass them on. We have to do everything we can to stop these infections from spreading around hospitals. Don't forget, there are some very vulnerable people in there."

"Or at least there will be until tomorrow," he added.

Patients are the latest in a long line of dangerous items to be banned from hospitals. Earlier this week it was revealed that bunches of flowers had been banned from several hospitals on the grounds that they too can harbour infections. NHS managers had neglected to inform patients or the florists operating within their hospitals, with the result that some nurses now have homes resembling Interflora.

Other items not allowed in hospital wards include raw sewerage (except where it is leaking from toilets constructed under PFI), rats, mice, dogs, guinea pigs and Anthea Turner. Tactical nuclear weapons were banned after some resistance in 1984.

Removing patients from hospitals will boost the government's attempts to improve waiting times. "We don't expect there to be many queues once the patients have gone," said one doctor. "It'll mainly be stressed-out doctors looking for drugs, but hopefully we won't be as stressed once there are no patients to treat."

A Downing Street spokesman denied that the real reason for the ban was to improve statistics. "That's absolute nonsense," he said. "It's right that we take all necessary precautions to protect the people left in our hospitals. This isn't about making the government look good."
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