On the stultifying and deadly effect of process

Patently has a sorry tale of how those labouring under the yoke of process documents unwittingly surrender their autonomy, humanity and common sense.

The sad news broke today of a young lad who died after an asthma attack. Now, I speak from experience when I say that these are treatable and that prompt action means that the patient can be helped to recover. So why did he die? Because his school left him in a corridor and shoo-ed away the children who were trying to help – despite the fact that he was virtually unable to breathe. By the time his mother arrived, he was visibly grey. By the time he reached hospital, it was too late.

Now, you’d expect the school to be shocked into action, I imagine? Err, no. The problem was, apparently, that the school "had no written medical procedures for staff"

Evelyn Leslie, headteacher at Offerton High School , said there had been no medical policy in place at the time of 11-year-old Sam Linton’s death in December 2007.

This is pathetic. I blogged long ago that rules and procedures are not enough. This is yet another example; if someone can’t work out that a child who is going grey and unable to breathe needs an ambulance NOW then the existence of a policy statement in folder 5, tab 7 stating that an the teacher should notify the designated emergency medical coordinator (see folder 3, tab 2, section 5.6.2 for the current holder of this post) who should immediately call an ambulance is not going to be much help.

Officialdom never seems to realise that it’s not policies you need in these situations, it’s common sense and a feeling of responsibility. Policies for every situation actually achieve the exact opposite of this.

Nothing more to add really. Procedures are there for one reason and one reason only. To cover arses when the coppers, lawyers and offwank inspectors come round.

It’s no coincidence that the high-flyers in my organisation are the ones who play fast and loose with process, deferring only to common-sense and expedience.



About Al Jahom
Anti-social malcontent, misanthrope and miserable git.

4 Responses to On the stultifying and deadly effect of process

  1. JuliaM says:

    This is an utterly monstrous story, glad you picked it up too. The more people that see it, and are forced to realise what it means and why it came about, the greater the chance of halting this creeping disaster.

    If it can be halted…

  2. nbc says:

    If it can be halted…

    Don’t hold your breath…

  3. Pingback: Teachers powerless « Al Jahom’s Final Word

  4. Cailleach says:

    “….common sense and a feeling of responsibility.”

    On the endangered list.

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