An Open Letter

To whoever it main concern,
The feeling on the 'shopfloor' of the LAS is that morale is suffering.

I think that part of the reason that morale is so low is because of the lack of communication within the service. While we do get bulletins every so often, I would suggest that this isn't enough.

When there isn't effective internal communication there is opportunity for rumours to breed. So for the past two years the whole Agenda for Change process has been subject to some astoundingly inaccurate speculation.

As a consequence of of this rumour-mongering people are unsure of the future, and this does not keep a workforce happy.

So I would like to suggest how the internal communication within the LAS could be improved in a way that would cost next to nothing.

We are all aware of the banned unofficial forum, yet it has become one of the ways in which news is spread quickly throughout the service. While some of the reports on the forum are true, it has also become a breeding ground for false information through incorrect interpretation of official bulletins, and via 'friend of a friend' information.

A recent example of this is the rumour, or truth, as there has been no official word, of cameras being fitted in the back of new ambulances in a bid to stop violence against crews.

My suggestion is that there should be one place on the service intranet where selected people (station and sector reps, team leaders, DSO's and a person from each meeting group) can publish exactly what is happening.

Perhaps it could even allow comments from people on station.

In essence, internal blogging.

I understand that we have the internal website “The Pulse”, but there are sections on that which haven't been updated since 2003, and while there is some good information on it, the focus is too broad, and it reads as if it has been written by a committee more used to making press releases.

A blog is extremely cheap and easy to set up, even easier to maintain, and can have multiple authors.

You can set up a way to post to it via email, so minutes of meetings could be published as quickly as they are typed up.

Imagine a situation where a crew can come on station, click on the link to the internal blog and instantly find out what is happening in their area, in the service as a whole and what was decided at the vehicle steering group.

If the blog allows comments (perhaps moderated), then when Team Leader 'X' mentions that they are having the stations on that complex repainted, then roadcrews could make suggestions about the colour of the paint.

This internal blog would not replace the traditional bulletin system but, for a miniscule outlay would actually enhance it.

I am, of course available for consultancy.

The usual disclaimers apply

25 thoughts on “An Open Letter”

  1. Wow, I knew bureaucracy in the NHS was bad, but a “Group” steering each vehicle sounds awful. Surely one vehicle, one driver would be better!:-)

  2. Please be careful Tom, some in power would see this type of thing (and the mere fact of you proposing it “in public”) as a threat. Threats get squashed – and we don't want to lose the best ambo blog on the net.Jafaa

  3. Dynamic strapline?Information 4 change ?

    sound current enough?

    wopit

    west mids tech that feels like a mushroom too…..

  4. An excellent idea, we're lucky where I work as we have an excellent intranet with forum area plus internal blogs & wikis……..although my team don't really use the blog & wiki side of things (I have enough problem getting them to use their Outlook calendars). I hope you get something sorted as I'm sure it would be of huge benefit (here's hoping the managers believe that!)

  5. Im afraid I am terribly cynical and I believe that you have a snow balls chance in hell, i.e. none.Here is my reasoning:-

    Information is power and those that have either keep them very close indeed. Relinquishing either lessens them. Releasing information is only valid when it has been squeezed of all value.

    Demoralised staff are actually easier to manipulate, so forget any notion of any management empowering their workforce in this manner. It is in the interests of management to keep their staff in their place. This is one of the many mechanisms and its not wilful, – its done almost sub-consciously.

    Even if they do agree to this eminently sensible suggestion, the only disseminated information will be that which has been drained, – i.e. valueless.

    Best of Luck.

    Ciaran

  6. How true. In our place the intranet is not only filled with alienating corporate junk, but also terribly hard to navigate, even by relatively experienced users. The harder it is to use, the less people want to bother plus…on the low morale front…keep the worker bees so understaffed and running ragged that they have no bloody time for the luxury of actually reading and contributing to a forum. This is, of course, interpreted by those-who-must-be-obeyed as “nobody being interested”. Huh!

  7. Ciaran has it right. name of game, be control, puppet like. The Ideal being is one that says “do it my way”. Guttenberg let the information out of the pulpit, and they have been trying ever since to put back so the next best thing be to bury the facts, unfortunately it sprang a leak , called the internet, so now they putting so much info into the ether that they can get control. Rumours be great, it keeps anarchy in the loop.Great Idea, get the info, straight from the mouthpiece but there be an orifice that is competing with it . The shadows will not enjoy losing their power, of not being the the dispenser of favours.

    Democracy is only for the cover sheet, give a man some Hope he will put off complaining 'til another day.

    Dungbeetle.

  8. It doesn't just need a strapline… it's the NHS we're talking about discussing A4C on NHSnet…. you need an abbreviation!I'll tell you why else you've a snowballs chance… It's a good idea! That's it!

    Seriously though… Seriously flawed idea here's why:

    1) it would actually mean Management would be able to have an idea about whats going on

    2) it would mean you guys had an inkling what went on

    3) didn't provide enough funding in the budget for implementing it to allow IT to recruit 4 more staff… say no more!

  9. yes,the same probs occur in xray depts – if you take xrays of emergency patients you take xrays of emergency patients. But no – some other qualification or irrelevant previous experience entitles you to more money – naturally.

    Also, disregarding the chronic shortage of radiographers our hours have been increased to 37 1/2 hours a week – ok I know most other nhs employees do this but there isn't a shortage of physios etc quite the opposite. This is being implemented over 7 years for existing employees but if, like me, you have come back after a break you are 40 p an hour worse off.

    And – i really object to being put in the same band as everyone else – how similar is our job to the speech therapist (yes, the nice lady with 9-5 hours who teaches children not to lisp) and an out of hours radiographer? Radiographers voted against the AGforC but were outnumbered by everyone else.

    anne

  10. in my hospital we have a good intranet and get updates via e-mail regularly. We have forums too, however the people that would benifit from using them (clinical as opposed to clerical staff) , rarely (if ever) have time to read and contribute. (they are not accsessable from outside)

  11. Sorry but we have an equivalent of a blog where we can put comments at my work (a nonmedical emergency service) and we have terrible trouble with whinging idiots making glib comments about policy and procedures. This does nothing to help the low morale problems, in fact it encourages negative thinking. The managers get really annoyed when people use it as a forum to discuss (for example) overtime payments, when they could just ring the payroll section.In my opinion, you'd just get whingers and malcontents with sufficient time to actually post, mainly because they are the slackers in the organisation. The people who really do the work haven't got time to read or post on our “blog” like comments section.

  12. This is a fair point… while I was at work our intranet had a “fun” section where people who had lots of spare time could email bits and bobs to IT who would then put it up.On the two occasions I actually looked at it this consisted of pictures of babies, and various managers selling things like “a motor home… because we've decided to just buy a holiday cottage” and “a jaccuzi… because we're getting a bigger one”. I wish I was joking.

  13. most companies have internal coms problems, it a fact of life. you idea could lessen the problems. and i hope that LAS take it upis the vehicle steering group nicknamed 'steering wheel'

    OK, i'll get my coat 😀

    Dave M

  14. I'm not a Speech Therapist but I do object to your dismissive description of their job above. 4 years+ training and more neurology than most GPs would recognise, make them very skilled specialist professionals. I'm sure you are a skilled professional too. Ask a Speech Therapist about their work with people who have had head injuries or CVAs. It might surprise you. I spent 2 days of my training with one and I am still in awe of the intensity and depth of their neurological training. Let's be a bit more respectful of each other please.

  15. What may be a better solution is to set up a Wiki – check out a rroduct called Confluence, http://www.atlassian.com/.I am no rep of that company – we are just starting to use it ourselves and it has many great features – particularly the ability to password protect etc.

  16. Yes, I apoogise. There is alot of training and skill in these professions . My whinge is the out of hours work – getting dragged out of bed every half hour all night is not fun and, unless I am wrong, isn't the case for speech therapists, physios etc whereas it is the case for most xraydepts. The ag for c is moving us gradually to shift work so less out of hours money. No probs for most of these fields where they are seldom called in but a loss of dosh for radiogrpahers, there 24 hours a day.

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