So I did my talk at the Guardian Public Services Summit.

I managed to tell a load of people in suits (including people from the Department of Health) that the ORCON target is clinically worthless.

I feel like I have justified five years of blogging.

If you think that I am wrong in my assessment of ORCON then you can post a comment here and we can enter into an open discussion. This being part of my talk about how blogging can break down the barriers between blogging.

I hope that some of those DoH managers can see fit to spend ten minutes a day casting their eyes over some of the UK medical blogs out there in order to get a real view of what it is like to work for the NHS.

“Live in hope, die in despair”.

31 thoughts on “Post-Talk”

  1. ORCON (as with so many government targets) exists so that our political masters can say to the electorate, either:”We set these targets to improve services and they have been met. Aren't we wonderful, please re-elect us”,


    “We set these targets to improve services but those people (in this case EMTs and Paras) have not met them. So it's their fault that things haven't improved, not ours. Please re-elect us and we will make sure those lazy good-for-nothings work harder to make us look good improve their performance in the future”.

    Politicians like simplistic, quantitative targets because they are easy to measure; unlike qualitative targets which are much more difficult to measure. For their (politician's) purposes it doesn't matter whether or not the thing being measured actually has any bearing on improving whatever it is they claim they want to improve. It's all about presentation, not substance.

    Good for you, Tom, for trying to tell the suits the truth. It won't do any good, but it's great that you took the opportunity.

  2. Well, you've told them…whether it sinks in or not is a different thing…I suspect it's the top politicians who really need convincing, as, in their phillistine world, everything (except ironically their own efficiency) is measurable and labelable (is that a word?)…Maybe, like the chinese water torture, the message will one day permeate the fatty layers…

  3. Congratulations Tom, i know how relieving it can feel to fginally let 'them' know how it really is on 'the shop floor'Am proud of you dude 😀

  4. Am I the only one to notice the similarity between the abbreviated for of our Department of Health and Homer Simpsons admission of stupidity.DOH!

  5. Well done Tom – just hope it sinks in but susect it will go in one ear and out of the other……as there's nothing in between to stop it! Best wishes.

  6. Vicariously, I read your posts about ORCON targets etc and feel, actually in some small part even SHARE, the frustration – in my case, only as someone who is a possible candidate/client/customer whatever – but none the less real!So thanks for sharing that you got to have your say, because you share that with us all, too.

    While I won't hold out any great hopes, you did do what your sense of duty and professionalism told you to do, and that's the kind of rare satisfaction that most people deny themselves, as they tie themselves up in a welter of red tape, “maybes” and profit-oriented expediency….

  7. This, very much.Am worried about saying anything more in case it starts to read like “The Little Blogger Who Could”.

  8. Where's your nearest job centre? You were being a bit brave there. Still, if no one tells them, they think they're doing an A-1 job.

    I can save the NHS loads of money in one go. How come when managers have a meeting, they get lunch provided. But if we have to go to an all day meeting, all we get is the directions to the canteen and have to pay out of our own pockets? Ironic, the ones better paid to afford their own lunch, get it free!

    So how about banning paid for lunches for all staff?

  9. Your username implies you should know the answer to this one… how many managers have you known who would be capable of following someone else's directions to a canteen, dealing with their own cash and change, and finding their way back to the right meeting room afterwards?

  10. Well done mate.If you've managed to convince even one of those dope-heads that run the NHS to think again about the millions of pounds that are being wasted on the pointless ORCON targets then you've done a great job.

  11. On a similar vein, a tale from my industry:-A large bus company recently hired several cannibals as it was expanding quickly and couldn't find enough British staff…

    “You are all part of our team now”, said the Operations Manager during the welcoming briefing.

    “You get all the usual benefits and you can go to the canteen for something to eat at Mealbreak time, but please don't eat any of our other employees”.

    The cannibals promised they would not…

    Four weeks later their boss remarked,”You're all driving very hard and I'm more than satisfied with your work. However, one of our inspectors has disappeared.. Do any of you know what

    happened to him?”

    The cannibals all shook their heads “No”. After the boss had left, the tribal leader of the cannibals said to the others, “Which one of you idiots ate the inspector?” A hand rose hesitantly.

    “You fool!” the leader continued. “For four weeks we've been eating managers and no one noticed anything. But, NOOOooo, you had to go and eat someone who actually does something!”

  12. Very well done for telling things like they are. If people don't even try to do that, how will these people ever know.Doesn't mean they'll take any notice but you've certainly done your bit!

  13. I take it that after the talk was complete, the DoH people avoided you like the plague?Congratulations Tom, I only hope now that the suits have the intelligence (and decency) to listen to someone who is in effect an ad hoc elect for the masses.

    If we keep shouting, eventually, someone must listen…

  14. good for you!in my experience, and this is with different government departments so might not translate directly to DoH/NHS, it will really help them if you can offer some sort of alternative suggestions for things that will help to address the problem they are trying to adress by using ORCON (I don't really know what that is though!). I would also suggest putting something into writing that will help them demonstrate that the system costs more than it benefits and then they will have something that they can put to their economists and whatnot and bosses to be reconsidered if they are already starting to have doubts of their own – I'd be very surprised if they had not already consulted though and decided the benefits outweigh the costs however, so you'd need a robust case and to show them new evidence. If you had time and you really wanted to tackle it, maybe a look at the impact assessment or whatever they use to make their decisions and/or an FOI request seeking information on how the decision to use ORCON was made might help you to understand where you need to start to make the case.

  15. Did they smile and nod a lot? I admire your perseverance Tom. though i sometimes think that maybe it would be better if they had to recieve some of the service that we are all stretching ourselves to provide and mybe they would finally see that the health servce cannot be run on the good will and caring attitudes of the staff,but needs some major financial input from the government rather than the platitudes we normally recieve.I know we do a good job and dont need some pencilneck government minister who is just trying to look good or the voters telling me so

    🙂 keep up the good work Tom

  16. As one of those DH managers – yes, I do read your (and other front-line blogs) and its because I want the same things you do – better quality care for patients. Before you have too many goes at us, remember that all we do is advise – Ministers take the decisions. And most of us are in public service because we chose to be, even though we could probably earn more doing something that feels less 'worthwhile' elsewhere. So our hearts are in the right place, and we do try to get it right, and to listen to people like you. But whether Ministers then listen to us is very different…

  17. Hi Nic, and thanks for admitting where you work…This is why someone like yourself needs to blog – because in that one paragraph I have started to understand a little about *your* pressures. You are no longer a faceless 'suit'.

  18. I did do this a couple of months ago in response to some media story or another…Now – the FOI request is a brilliant idea, one that I may have to run with…

  19. Thanks – and that's why I read your blog, because you really do listen to other points of view, and are prepared to take on board the pressures that other people work under. As well as writing superbly about really interesting stuff. :-)I'd love to blog about how the DH really works – but I can't see any way I can do it without facing disciplinary procedures and (probably) breaking the Official Secrets Act. But if you ever wanted a day's shadowing to see what its really like inside the dark recesses of Richmond House, do let me know. Though there would probably have to be restrictions on what you could then blog about it…

  20. I'm serious about the shadowing offer, but not sure if the way I've logged in to make this comment means you've got my e-mail address or not, and therefore whether you've got any way of contacting me. If you haven't, and you do want to set something up, let me know via this set of comments and I'll try and work out a way of giving you my e-mail address without making it public to the entire internet…

  21. oh I see. I forgot all the clever, right minded people in the world are ambulancemen and women, and that everyone else was out to get them.seriously, get real and get over yourself and try thinking a bit harder and looking further than your own nose for once.

  22. Yeah you got to the bottom of the conspiracy that I am trying to debunk because I am actually part of it all!You can spout paranoid nonsense, or you can actually try to get to the bottom of it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *