Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Anyone For A Meat Sandwich?

Shouldn't there be some meat here somewhere?

Our politicians are great at talking the talk of public service reform, and "devolving power to the frontline". But when it comes to walking the walk...

Item 1 - Schools. According to a survey conducted for the School Teachers' Review Body by the Office of Manpower Statistics:

"Headteachers in English secondary schools are working well over four hours a week longer than they were six years ago, despite government promises to ease the burden.... headteachers' hours have increased dramatically to over 65 hours a week on average. Deputy headteachers' working weeks have also lengthened. They are clocking up 61 hours a week, whereas two years ago their hours had dropped to just over 54 a week."

And the reason? You guessed it - the non-stop avalanche of initiatives, priority programmes, directives, box-ticking, and other assorted rubbish brought down on them by central government.

We've blogged before about the jobs from hell, and how being the middle management meat in a particularly inedible sandwich has caused a headteacher recruitment crisis (eg see here and here). Real reform will not be possible until the DfES gets off the backs of headteachers - and whatever David Willetts may hope (see here), the only sure way of doing that is to put the buying power directly in the hands of customers - ie parents.

Item 2 - Hospitals. CPO Commissar Hewitt is once again railing against failings in her own hospitals (which for those old enough, puts me in mind of the complaints department in Monty Python's classic Argument Clinic*). She blames the management, and is about to issue yet another name and shame list. It seems she can't get good staff to be the meat in her sandwich either:

“I’m afraid that a lot of the trusts with the worst financial records are also weak on quality of care. You can see why when you visit hospitals like that.

They are not making the best use of their resources, not working through the processes of making sure everybody is paying attention to hygiene and cleanliness, and if they’re not doing that, they’re probably not going through the processes of making sure everything else is being done properly.”

Yeah, thanks for that Pat- especially since my Dad is going in for an angioplasty tomorrow. Really helpful. Now why do we need you, again?

*Footnote: For those not old enough, the M Python complaints sketch goes a bit like this:

(Voter/patient goes to Dept of Health. Opens door.)

Voter: I want to complain.

Hewitt: You want to complain! Look at these shoes. I've only had them three weeks and the heels are worn right through.

Voter: No, I want to complain about...

Hewitt: If you complain nothing happens, you might as well not bother.

Voter: Oh!

PS No blog yesterday as Tyler spent all day wrestling with the technology of videos for 18 Doughty Street. Turns out to be much trickier than he'd imagined, but fortunately the guys actually at the controls seem to be somewhat more expert. Well done to everyone for getting it on the road last night. And hope you're all taking a look here.

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