Scanners and Scammers

I always like writing about things that are slightly outwith my normal realm of experience. Such things happen to me only rarely. By definition, I suppose.

Now that I’ve outed Chuckles, I thought I might describe the process through which his or her embryonic existence was verified.

Back in the day, I accompanied a still-svelte Mrs H to the relevant NHS premises for the purpose of the three month scan. Mrs H announced the reason for her attendance to the receptionist, who welcomed us both with a warm glare.

‘Name?’

Mrs H gave it.

‘Date of birth?’

Again, Mrs H obliged.

The receptionist then realised that Mrs H was holding a card with this information clearly printed on it. Thinking to make the identity-confirmation task a mite harder, she gestured to Mrs H to hand it over, before making her final play:

‘Postcode?’

On Mrs H’s flawless recitation of the above, without the aid of the printed record, the receptionist seemed satisfied that we were who we claimed to be, and jabbed a finger in the direction of the waiting room.

You might assume that the process of actually getting the scan would be the substance for the most interesting part of this anecdote. Sadly, it wasn’t. It was all very matter of fact, really. But what really got me was that, once it was all over, the nurse / technician said that we could take away a couple of printouts ‘for a wee contribution’, before waving a plastic bowl full of money under my nose.

This struck me as strange, but (of course) social protocol dictated the desired response. I made put an appropriately modest contribution, making sure that I did it in such a way as to make the greatest possible amount of jingling. As we left, we wondered: was our contribution intended only to cover the cost of the print out? It would seem that some of the previous contributions were slightly disproportionate if this were the case (there were, it has to be said, a fair few notes floating around in there, but assuredly not from my pocket). Or was it for charity? That would (almost) be fair enough, but why wouldn’t they tell you which charity it was going to? Or was it (as I suspected) nothing but a bloody racket?

I tend to think that, whenever emotions run high, there’s always someone who thinks they should make a swift buck out of it. This works for negative emotions, certainly. That’s why funerals are so expensive, and why people buy internet domain names reflecting recent tragedies in order to subsequently flog them to grief-stricken punters: when people feel sad, they don’t mind paying up. The same is true on happy occasions: why is it so much more expensive to hire a venue or photographer for a wedding then for another equivalently-sized social gathering? Because it is such an unusually happy occasion, people feel OK about paying over-the-odds.

And when you get your first baby scan, that’s a happy day too. At least this was the emotion I was instructed to feel: ‘just look at their happy faces’ was the nurse’s description of my furrowed countenance in response to her monetary pleas. But if I’m honest, I felt no particular urge to open my wallet and empty it into hers.

But then again, perhaps this is the solution for a cash-strapped NHS. You can just imagine it: the oncology surgeon comes to visit you after your operation, and tells you that your operation was completely successful, and that you are completely free of cancer. Perhaps he should follow up with a subtle ‘ahem’ and an upturned palm?

I don’t know.

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4 Comments on “Scanners and Scammers”

  1. Jamie Says:

    How much did you donate? We charge a fixed price of £2 for a booking scan. Perhaps this is a mistake, I’m thinking your hospital will probably earn more from their scans.

  2. Doug Says:

    I suppose my complaint would be that I’ve already paid my taxes, and would therefore expect it to be free. Apologies for sounding like the Daily Mail here. I contributed the princely sum of 50p. They caught me off guard, you see.

  3. Me! Says:

    May I just remind you also, that the scan came in the same week as you lost your wallet, so even if you HAD wanted to donate something larger it wouldn’t be possible. What I failed to tell you recently, is when you repeat the experience next week, a donation is expected – it says on the appointment card.

  4. Hannah Says:

    They seriously made you give a donation for your scan?! I am shocked, outraged and disgusted. No, seriously. What am I paying my taxes for, if not to fund a cradle-to-grave national health service? The country’s going to the dogs…


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