Observations THE WEEK IN MEDICINE

No quick fix for the NHS

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39097.690428.59 (Published 18 January 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:124
  1. Rebecca Coombes, journalist, London rcoombes@bmjgroup.com

    When an industry hotshot was let loose on the NHS, doctors saw red

    What's the story?

    The internet talkboards were humming last week—mainly with indignant doctors—after the BBC broadcast a series of films about the business guru Gerry Robinson's attempts to “fix” the NHS—or, more exactly, to cut the waiting lists of a local hospital. The former Granada boss was let loose on Rotherham General Hospital with the task of getting more patients through the system at no extra cost.

    In Can Gerry Robinson Fix the NHS? we saw lingering shots of theatres lying empty on a Friday afternoon and an incredulous Robinson questioning this wisdom when waiting lists mounted up.

    “I thought they'd be packed,” said Robinson. “But it really wasn't like that. The theatres really weren't being managed in any way that I would recognise as being appropriate for an important and expensive resource.”

    He stalked the corridors, talking to staff and to the uncomfortable looking chief executive, Brian James. The exercise quickly led him to the view that NHS management “is just half-arsed.” He said, “In the NHS everything is talk. No one thinks they are actually going to follow anything through.” His tactic was to get staff members talking to each other, to devise initiatives on the shop floor, rather than relying on senior management. But he remained frustrated by the painfully slow progress. In episode one, evidence …

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