I was fascinated by the ‘Can Gerry Robinson fix the NHS’ series broadcast on BBC2 this week.

Not because I learned a lot about how the NHS works. Not because I was staggered at the simplicity of Robinson’s approach. Not because I was surprised that Robinson managed to implement various changes to significantly reduce waiting lists at a Rotherham hospital in just 6 months.

I was fascinated because I have encountered so many of those issues, heard so many of those quotes verbatim and met so many of those stereotypes during 20 years in IT.

  • The people who meet any sensible suggestion for improvement with an array of negative reasons why that simply won’t be possible.
  • The people who estimate that implementing a simple change will take months to implement.
  • The retort of ‘That will need another meeting to be set up.’
  • The senior management who haven’t got a clue about the real issues faced by people working on the shop floor.
  • The people actually using the system know what the real issues are.
  • The lengthy, directionless meetings which agree to ‘do something’ but don’t assign ownership or commit to a date.
  • The expensive use of ‘management consultants’ to tell senior management what they already know.
  • Cost cutting in the very areas that need extra resources.

The ultimate irony is that having implemented the changes, re-motivated the staff and significantly reduced the waiting lists, every single poorly person in Yorkshire will now forcefully insist that their GP immediately refers them to Rotherham General Hospital. Consequently, the waiting lists will rocket, Brian James will lose his job, the consultants will revert to their old ways and the job freeze will be reinstated.

However, Gerry Robinson and the BBC will be invited back to film a second series.