Wednesday, March 19, 2014


It has been one hell of a week after a friend collapsed with a brain tumour. After rushing around, I am now catching up with reading and whilst scanning the papers two bits of news struck me. The first was the continuing problems at RBS and the Co-op Bank, with accompanying stories about the vast salaries and bonuses given to their senior managers, despite the mess. The second was the announcement of a pay freeze for health service staff. The conclusion is obvious.

This is about more than economic inequity, it is about the value structure of hierarchical societies. The health professionals, from paramedics in the ambulance to the surgeon who operated, were magnificent; empathetic as well as efficient. The care my friend has received cannot be faulted. But where do the rewards and the esteem go - to managers. Management does matter and good management does make a difference. So does bad management. The good ones ensure that people can do their jobs, the bad ones stop them. But, ultimately, what matters is the job and the people who do it. Yet the ideology of managerialism reduces them to chess pieces, to be manipulated at will. Their position is servile, but they are all we care about and without them lives can be lost. They are the ones we need.

Instead of judging people on the work they do, we reward them for where they stand in the hierarchy. And the skills needed to get to those positions are not the ones that save lives.

And a supplementary thought: The technology and pharmacology involved in saving someone's life is awesome. Those who promote 'alternative remedies' or ludicrous (and profitable) sales of sugar pills masquerading as drugs, all the while decrying conventional medicine, can kill.


keith said...

Yes very true and sad

keith said...

sad and true

Anton Deque said...

Family and friends who have recently used the NHS say over and again how well they were treated.

Reward has nothing to do with expertise, dedication or significance of contribution to the general good. The people I rely on in my daily life I never or very rarely see; the men who clean the drains and sewers, mend roads, street lights or drive buses or trains. These are more commonly known as 'the low paid'.

If you want to make yourself ill watch 'W1A' the new satire series on BBC TV. It purports to show how funny the mendacious language and defensive behaviours of management inside great institutions 'really are'. In my, admittedly, limited experience it isn't comedy, mere reportage.