Pay the Piper


I’m going to jump on the Bank Bonus Bandwagon today and throw in my two pennies’ worth.Stephen Hester has been turned into a scapegoat in the worst way…following the demands of the baying mob representing the British public.

Finance sector pay has always been a glittering prize for the types of people who can do the work against the “City mentality” which is often fickle, crude, cutthroat and sexist…but if the UK finance sector isn’t worth saving, why did Mr Cameron stand up in the EU last month to exclude us from new taxes on financial transactions?

Pay in the sector is in a whole other ballpark compared with the rest of us mere mortals, but that’s what it is and forcing one bank to reduce its staff rewards can only have the effect of reducing the attractiveness of that bank as a place to work.  Perhaps that’s the reasoning…it’s the taxpayers’ bank so let’s turn it into another public sector institution.

I do understand that the sour grapes of the majority of people who don’t earn anywhere near his salary and bonus must taste vile, but I do not agree with his breaking under the pressure.  Think of the £500K the taxman is missing

We attracted him to the job by offering him a market-aware pay package.  The man has done the job he was asked (maybe he wasn’t asked to do enough, but that’s down to the RBS Board), for the payment he was promised and now we don’t want to pay him.

If I was him I’d have taken the pay and then resigned…it would have been interesting to see who would take on the poisoned chalice…and even better if the public got what they deserved in his place.

Who’s going to apply for that job when he leaves?  Someone with a “vocation” to run the taxpayers’ bank?  Well, one thing I will predict is that it won’t be anyone who has a real option to work elsewhere.

It reminds me of the fairy story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin.  The villagers were desperate for his services and promised him a pretty penny if he achieved their goals…and when he did the villagers refused to pay him.  The people got their comeuppance in the worst way possible…

Let’s hope it’s just a fairy story.


What would Nye Bevan do?

Concerns over Poly Implant Prostheses (PIP) implants.

The news about Poly Implant Prostheses (PIP) implants has been breaking like waves on the shore over the last few months.  It’s a worrying situation if you happen to be an NHS patient who has had implanted material, but at least the NHS will stand by its responsibilities and offer you treatment if you have concerns that an implant is failing.

As for the people who have chosen to pay for implants, while I wouldn’t want to detract from their concerns the situation is different.  Let’s consider the scenario without the pathos.

If we were talking about, say, a tattoo instead of an implant, both a matter of choice, both carried out by a skilled operative, both using products to enhance a “look”, there is a strong parallel…

…and then let’s imagine that we found out that the ink used could break down in 10% of cases and slowly poison its host…how would we apply the logic?

Firstly, anyone that became ill as a result would still be treated on the NHS.  Anyone who did not become ill would probably still look for someone to sue for damages.  Now that the focus is on “whiplash” scams, it would be an ideal cash cow replacement for the personal injury lawyers.

So, let’s now revert back to the implant clinics who claim they “can’t afford” to compensate the people they have helped to injure.  Where is their surgeons’ Professional Indemnity Insurance?  Why is no one making a claim against it? Why should the Tax Payer foot the bill instead?  If it was a tattoo it wouldn’t even be suggested…

Well, if surgeons do have successful claims made against their PI Insurance, then their premiums would rise enormously to prohibitive levels and they would be unable to practice…is that their fault or should they have an implant approvals body to fall back on?

Funnily enough, we have an option in Wales, the Surgical Materials Testing Laboratory, based in Bridgend will approve medical products, but England has no such approvals agency.

England seems to rely on the European CE marking…pip, pip!

New Year, New NHS Experience

When did we become so surly?I hope your New Year has been less eventful than mine…sort of through the looking glass for me as I moved to the sharp end of the NHS instead of the cloudy world of NHS Spine connectivity.

My Mum had a DVT on Boxing Day and as we sped to hospital with the blue light flashing, I had time to reflect on the service that our software supports.

So far so good. The paramedic and the ambulance crew were excellent, even though they were working under difficult circumstances, it being the “holidays” and all.  With an ambulance headlight out and no maintenance team to fix it…crew working out of their area so no directions for the hospital…skeleton staff only, so we had a team leader attending our call out (this turned out to be a good thing)…we had a smooth passage into NHS land.

The A&E was an eye-opener.  The staff were jogging along, the assessment was soon underway…in fact all surprisingly acceptable considering the regular reports in the Press of poor treatment in hospitals.

The problem I had wasn’t the staff at all…but the patients and their entourages of moaning relatives.  When did our society turn into such a surly, ungrateful bunch?

In the end, I stopped engaging with anyone but medics to avoid, as best as I could, the waves of negativity swirling around the beds and waiting areas …but how on earth does it affect the staff?

I can only assume, from the blank faces, that they cope by turning off any external emotion and therefore any ability to communicate using the interpersonal skills available to them.  No tone of voice, no pace, no smiles, no frowns, guarded eye contact…a kindly bedside manner is out of the question until they work out what you are…a pain or a patient?

…and who can blame them?

The behaviour I saw was often rude and verging on aggressive…one chap was loudly complaining that his 9 am appointment the next day meant he was going to have to get out of bed far too early…the rest were complaining about having to wait, the prescribed treatment, having to smoke outside or not getting a mobile signal…on and on…

Yes, I know people are under stress in a hospital environment, but are we now so self-absorbed that we can’t have empathy with the NHS staff? The people who are trying to help us within the constraints of the resources available to them?

The answer seems to be no, we can’t.