Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

NHS Bureaucracy: Seven Sick Strategies

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

NHS Bureaucracy: Seven Sick Strategies

Article excerpt

Stapled to my hospital payslip each month is a glossy, expensively printed, eight-page propaganda leaflet from trust headquarters. In true Stalinist fashion, it portrays a happy and contented workforce, proud of being awarded stars by the government. There is always money enough for this kind of thing--though not for medical supplies, equipment, or staff salaries.

The leaflet's main value, though not its purpose, naturally, is to illustrate how immense sums could now be poured into our public services without any tangible benefit whatsoever to the public. In it, the time-servers lay bare their corrupt souls.

The trust's director of organisational and workforce development (if inflated titles come, can salaries be far behind?) wrote an article for it entitled "HR in the NHS Plan".

HR? Hormone replacement, perhaps? No, human resources: you, me, we are all resources now, like iron ore in Liberia.

The director writes: "I have now completed a review of the organisational structure for the HR function and each operational directorate, as well as corporate areas and have a Lead HR Manager who will work with relevant management boards and staff ... The Trust Board have also [sic] recently agreed our HR strategy which outlines the strategic direction we will follow in continuing to work towards key national and local objectives in order to meet the needs of our users, communities and staff."

I hope all this is clear to you. If not, the director goes on to explain that "the strategy has been developed around four key areas".

What are they, the four key areas? HR in the NHS Plan (National Strategy). The aims and values of our Trust. The Improving Working Lives Standard (IWL). Local Workforce Development priorities.

She then informs those who are not yet tearing their hair out or banging their heads on the wall to make this drivel go away that there are "seven key areas for delivery" --that is to say, the seven key areas of the four key areas of the strategy. …

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