From John Henwood.
THE Comptroller and Auditor General is critical of the way the Health department keeps patients’ records; it’s an important matter and one that must be addressed.
The response of Mr Richardson, recently appointed deputy chief officer at the Chief Minister’s department, is that a senior person will be appointed to take responsibility for such matters.
That is the wrong answer. It doesn’t take much foresight to see the future unfold. A senior, and doubtless expensive, post will be created; that person will demand a secretary and possibly an assistant.
Nothing creates work like an individual keen to demonstrate how busy he is and soon additional staff will be recruited. In a twinkling a new department will exist and, even when all the original problems have been dealt with, it will continue to add to the ever-increasing burden on taxpayers. (Remember, with GST we are all taxpayers now.)
The right answer is much more simple, effective and inexpensive. It is to make sure those whose role it is to look after people’s records have the right tools and to require them to do the job more effectively. It’s called management. While there are examples of effective management in the public sector there are, frankly, too many instances of poor practice.
It is this state of affairs, and the propensity to address problems by employing ever more highly paid staff, which is at the heart of the States’ inability to control expenditure.