Friday, 12 November 2010

Excess spending in the NHS

The UK National Health Service is one of the largest employers in the world in terms of number of employees. It has an enormous wages bill. It is also quite inefficient, part of the reason for that is that it is almost impossible to fire someone from the NHS. The process of industrial tribunals is unfairly and heavily biased toward the employee. Decisions are made by the tribunal panel with no responsibility for the additional cost to the public purse (i.e. you and me; the tax payers). I've come across the case where a candidate lied at the recruitment interview about his availability to work shift hours. The specific question was asked at the job interview by the the recruitment interviewers "Do you understand the hours of employment? Is there any reason why you cannot work those hours?"
When the new employee arrived he announced, within two days, that he could not work the shift pattern. He requested that the shifts should be changed to meet his personal family needs.The hours changes could not be met without imposing additional burden on the existing team. After consultation with the local HR department it was decided the man should be dismissed because he could not meet the contractual conditions (which he'd agreed to at the interview). 
The man called in the union and the case was taken to Industrial Tribunal. The tribunal chairman ruled that because the hours had not been explicitly laid out in the job advertisement (it had stated "shift work"), even though they'd been explained in interview, that they found in favour of the employee. So the local Primary Care Trust is landed with a bill for a "compensation payment", plus expenses from both sides and the cost of agency staff to cover the gap created by this liar. Subsequent off the record enquiries revealed that the person concerned had an appalling reputation in his previous job, but of course that was not reflected by the references provided by his previous NHS employer.
It is small wonder the NHS administration is over-cautious about removing failing or dishonest employees.

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