Saturday, August 05, 2006
Two Sues Go Gardening
Can you think of any large commercial organisation that has a job-share as Chief Exec? No neither can we. You might have job-shares among junior staff doing routine jobs, but commonsense tells you the CEO has to be on the case 24/7, pulling the whole thing together and taking the ultimate responsibility.
But those rules don't apply in the public sector. There, the dictates of PC recruitment (see this blog) evidently mean that job-share is acceptable at any level. Which is how "the two-Sues" came to be running the National Patient Safety Agency.
Sues Osborn and Williams, are the NPSA's joint chief executives, working 3 days a week each. According to the Guardian:
"Ms Osborn and Ms Williams were pioneers of flexible working when they took control in 2001. After a few months they told Society Guardian that their strength lay in being able to rely on each other to do the right thing. Their skills were different, but complementary. They said they both knew Ms Osborn was better with figures than Ms Williams, but Ms Williams could think more strategically."
This yin and yang met and apparently "bonded" in the 70s when they were both junior health administrators. In 1986 they got their first jobshare as unit general manager in Camberwell health authority, and they never looked back- 1990 joint general manager of Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham family practitioner committee; 1994 joint chief executive of Merton, Sutton and Wandsworth family health services authority; 1995 chief executive of Barking and Havering health authority; 2001 joint chief executive of the NPSA.
And as they climbed the quango ladder, they even got famous, in a Society Guardian kind of way- in 2002 a photograph of them was exhibited in the National Portrait Gallery (see above).
Unfortunately, we all know about the NPSA for another reason: we blogged it a few weeks ago. It's the £35m pa quango that was supposed to stop the NHS's slide into MRSA/C difficile hell, but which in reality- as the Public Accounts Committee found- became the worse kind of box-ticking encumbrance.
Despite introducing sheaves of new forms and procedures, the NPSA has entirely failed to make patients safer. For example, one in ten patients is unintentionally harmed in NHS hospitals (Tyler has seen a number of acquaintances go into NHS hospitals over the last 12 months: every single one ended up with the most catastrophic diarrhoea, which only cleared once they- thankfully- got out).
Now the Department of Health has flipped from pc quota management back to Stalinism: following the PAC report and the later report on rapes of mental health patients, the Two Sues have been summarily shot (the DoH euphemism is "gardening leave").
Which is fair enough, given that the CEO has to carry the can. But whoever thought it was good idea to appoint them in the first place? Who made that decision, and have they also been confined to the herbaceous border?
Posted by Mike D at 9:30 am