I received a call last week from a client who wanted me to help her out with a small task. The Trust is about to embark on a major consultation which will result in redundancies.
The HR Director wanted me to look over the consultation paperwork to ensure that it was fit for purpose: in otherwords to ensure it captured everything that needed to be said, in the right language, and succinctly. The HR team had already spent some considerable time pulling it together, and due to the importance of this document, the HRD wanted one last person to look over it before it was finalised.
As I reviewed the paperwork, I cross-referenced certain sections with past consultation papers that I have either written or collected (those which I felt were well written & offered something that I might be able to use in the future). I have written scores of consultation papers in the 12 years that I have worked either in or alongside the NHS and I have quite a bank stored on my hard drive.
And yes, the NHS has been opening and closing wards, reconfiguring services, making people redundant for this whole period….just not at the scale it is at present.
And that’s when it hit me. For years I’ve been recycling the same old document. Each time I get it out, I dust it down by making sure it’s relevant to that particular change programme and is up to date with current legislation.
But the fact is that there are 100s, maybe even thousands of other HR professionals in the Trusts across the country doing exactly the same thing. We’re all investing a lot of time developing bespoke and individual consultation documents for what is essentially a generic document.
Is this the tip of the iceberg? How many other generic documents are being developed and adapted locally? Has the NHS generated a cottage industry in HR documentation?
I’m not sure that I’d support centralisation, but surely there must be some way to bring efficiencies into the system. And for once, I don’t have the answer to this particular problem. Do you?