Column: Endless paperwork, but life ticks on ...

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You know what it’s like, get Christmas and New Year over, then your mind turns towards spring and cleaning.

I pulled various boxes out from under the bed, always a mistake as you find things you’ve forgotten about or had spent years looking for in a previous life.

Anyway, I came across masses of paper work from my last ten years of working in the NHS. As I recall, paperwork had reached epidemic proportions, I doubt if anything has changed.

There were certificates for meetings I’d attended, minutes from meetings about having meetings. There were forms full of tick boxes to say you’d read, how to tackle a fire,(tick) how to dust equipment,(tick) had you read and understood the uniform policy,(tick)do you know the correct method of hand washing ( tick)?

There were policies and procedures about how to speak to people (cheek! - tick). How to use the toaster in the staffroom (not ticked) as this was deemed far too dangerous and confiscated.

The fact that you were trained to use millions of pounds worth of medical equipment, but not the humble toaster was – well you get the picture.

Then the powers that be, decided to bring in a new policy for ALL staff no matter how important or lowly. You had to log your achievements, those that had gone well, those not so well.

There was a tick box for Reflective learning, what were the lessons learnt, how things could be improved and so on. Then if you were very lucky you could go through another gate and perhaps progress to some sort of promotion.

That was all well and good if that’s what you wanted. Take our cleaners, Sally and Jane, they worked three hours in the X-Ray Department every evening.

The hours suited, they had young children, so when their hubbies came home and took charge of the kids, they went to work, earned a bit extra, took pride in their work, didn’t want to go through a gate or get promoted, the place was spotless and everyone was happy.

The problems arose when it came to their annual review. “Do I tick the reflective learning box?” Sally asked.

“If I dip my mop in the bucket and give it a squeeze I can then clean the floor.

“What have been the lessons learnt?” I inquired.

“Well, the more I dip the mop in the bucket, the more floors I can clean.”

“Brilliant!” I replied “Just tick all the boxes.” And that’s it, we can’t just accept things have been completed, you have to prove it because no one is going to believe you unless you’ve ticked the box.

I mean how many of us read the terms and conditions? If you don’t tick that box the computer says NO!

As for the papers found under the bed, they are beside the shredder waiting their turn – TICK.