Tuesday, July 01, 2008

NHS sinking in administrative drivel

Slightly off topic for this blog but Simon Carr has been listening to the Health Secretary's plans for the NHS and predicting that revered British institution is going to sink even deeper into an ever expanding sea of administrative drivel.

There will be "An increasing focus for GPs" on "improving the health of individuals". Hmmm. Ok. That's not exactly new but credit where credit is due.

They are committed to an improvement in the "Quality and Outcomes Framework" through the mechanism of a "clinical dashboard", annual "Quality Accounts" and "an unwavering, unrelenting, unprecedented focus on quality".

They plan "to bring clarity to quality", a "strong clinical voice elevated through the Review", "new expectations of professionalism" to "redefine their roles as practitioners" and a set of "rights and responsibilities of a newly-enhanced accountability".

We've been burdened with "quality assessment" in the education system for as long as I can remember and before that similarly during my time in industry there was an obsession with gaining external quality awards like ISO 9001 and the BSA equivalent, British Quality Awards etc. etc. An aspiration towards providing quality products and services is commendable. Unfortunately in practice the management of quality rapidly degenerates into a hugely complex box ticking paper chase, where the incentives to pretend the organisation is doing better than it is become overwhelming; and the resources expended on feeding the organisation's "quality" administrative system grow exponentially and have been known to overtake the resources spent on the core business, as sustaining the quality monster becomes an end in itself.

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