It’s the same old circle of life

I remember some 30–35 years ago back in a previous existence working in a branch of a major bank that performance, experience and sound judgement actually counted for something.

We had procedural manuals – lots of them – about three inches thick each (ok, so we’re decimal now but who cares) and a pretty rigorous inspection regime every 18 months or so.

Careers would rise or fall on the outcome of your inspections – if you performed badly you would stay where you were until you improved, or failing that you were on the way out. If you were doing ok, you would receive a pat on the head until the next time. If you were performing really well, with an exemplary inspection you could easily be moving upwards and onwards within weeks. Do a really poor job and you could totally wave goodbye to a career.

I have been following casually the health service problems in and around Belfast for a while. Whilst I have no particular knowledge of this other than what I read in the headlines about the delays in A&E, pressures on staff, poor inspection reports, under-resourcing, major incident declarations and (one assumes) under management at the Royal must be of concern to the rest of the NHS in the country and patients in particular.

Now I read that the chief executive of Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, Colm Donaghy, has resigned after four years in the job. It sounds like the right decision to me, as the Trust needs some major surgery itself.

But where is he off to? He has landed a job as chief executive elsewhere in the NHS, a smaller and more specialist role, but rosy and glowing accolades abound from every side.

I guess my grouse is that no matter what happens in the NHS, be it reorganisation, hiring and firing, shuffles, politics and general shenanigans the same old faces seem to land feet side down, and somehow do all right.


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