Telegraph article on managing the public sector

I reproduce below and article I wrote for the Telegraph recently:

    More money for the public sector must be something for something. 

If we work smarter and produce more then we can be paid more. Growing the country’s income per head is central to creating the greater prosperity and the wider opportunities people expect. The covid lockdowns imposed a heavy price, destroying business and tax revenues and  limiting output. They led  to massive public borrowing to tide us over the difficulties. Many people and enterprises came to rely on state handouts.  Output and output per head slumped.

Productivity sounds technical and tedious yet it is the key to economic and individual success. If you help produce something lots of  people want you usually generate more revenue, allowing your employer or your business to pay you more. If you make something unique like a best selling book or movie, or a new app which is a must have, you can be extremely well rewarded. If you help a company produce oil or pharmaceuticals or some other very investment intensive activity with few people in relation to valuable output you can benefit from the high pay the activity will allow. Markets determine the value of people’s output and so influence their pay.

The public sector tends to assess the pay of its staff by reference to market based private sector comparisons. In  the 22 years from 1997 to 2019 public sector productivity rose by just 3.7% over the whole time period though public sector staff got pay awards based on comparisons with a private sector that was doing a lot better at raising output per person.

 Real state output soared under Labour from 1997 to 2009  by a massive  50% , but productivity fell  2% over the 12 years. Under the Conservatives pre covid by 2019 output was up again by a more restrained 8%, with productivity edging ahead to show a 3.7% gain for the entire 22 year period. By end 2021 output was up again by almost a tenth  but productivity was down on 1997 levels by 3.7%.. So over nearly a quarter of a century of fast automation and technical advance in the wider economy  the UK public sector saw a fall in  productivity.

Now the state is much deeper in debt to pay for that huge expansion of public sector activity over the last quarter of a century as a result. We did not see savings for all the investment in computers, on line services, new trains and the rest.  We cannot go on like this. It is bizarre that productivity has fallen a lot in an area like benefit processing, given the big investment in electronic  systems to speed the efficiency of the process. Having an ever more complex tax system raises the costs of collection.  The collapse of commuter five day a week travel on the railways has gravely damaged fare revenues leading to a surge in state subsidy to support a far less productive railway. Subsidising too many near empty trains makes little sense financially or environmentally.

The government needs to go through the reasons for failing productivity department by department, function by function. It needs a series of something for something pay deals, that recognise people’s wishes for pay that keeps up or beats prices. It needs to meet aspirations where it can afford them through promotions, increments, adjustments to pay scales that are based on more output through smarter working.

The railway is a good place to start. The government should not be offering more subsidy which is now more than double  the fare revenues. It should be seeking ways to cut the cost to taxpayers, expecting from management and unions together a new approach to identifying how to use the railway to better effect to collect more fares and incur less cost. There is no need to have compulsory redundancies but there is every need to reduce manning levels where technology can do the job, to use new methods  for track inspections, to amalgamate guard and driver tasks and a range of other measures which can help. Above all they need a more imaginative timetable that fits modern travel needs. They should have ticket pricing that offers larger discounts the more often you travel a route to try to get more people back commuting more regularly.

In the NHS Ministers should expect more achievement and more transparency from their many higher paid managers in the quangos and Trusts that employ the staff and spend the money. The NHS clearly needs more capacity. Management passion to reduce or limit bed numbers over the years has left it short of physical capacity for an expanding population. It needs an effective workforce plan, as it has many vacancies that need filling and many Agency staff who should be recruited into permanent roles to save the Agency fees and the frictional costs short term employment generates. Quality and output are normally enhanced by allowing people to specialise in areas that they then become good at handling. The NHS under Labour developed more ways to buy in activity and skill from the private sector, whilst preserving the all important free at the point of delivery for the patient. More use can be made of this to encourage centres of excellence and special treatment centres by type of procedure and illness.

Taxpayers are paying large sums to retain 33,000 NHS managers. They expect to see better results from all that planning, hiring and memo writing. Higher output and quality can go together, and depend on a well motivated, respected and professional workforce. As we watch the strikes and delayed access on the  news broadcasts we need to ask how they can do things better. We need a public sector productivity revolution, which requires inspirational managers and positive workforces to get together for the sake of better services and higher pay. The two go together.  Taxpayers are happy to pay for a good service through their taxes, but resent tipping more money into services where productivity is falling and where services do not meet the public’s needs.

 

 

161 Comments

  1. Lifelogic
    January 7, 2023

    I expect almost nothing from the state sector and that is what we get. Not even a prompt ambulance should I ever need one.

    1. dixie
      January 7, 2023

      Why would you need an NHS ambulance, you do not live in this country.

    2. Hope
      January 7, 2023

      LL,
      If the Tory party implement and build on Labour policies while putting former Labour ministers and advisors in key roles like the NHS what does JR and his party expect!!

      Same for energy.
      Same for employment.
      Level playing fields with EU to keep in lockstep- employment laws, environment, state aid, competition, give away control of military under PESCO, force UK manufacturing to move east, giving away fishing waters, borders down Irish Sea, EU checks in UK of goods, EU tariffs, laws regs and rules!!

      Oh, I forgot it is everyone else’s fault not the party and govt in charge!! Is this blog an acceptance by JR that his party and govt have failed to bring any changes after 13 years with an 80 seat majority or a hollow bleat to move in the right direction as May local election looms?

      1. Shirley M
        January 7, 2023

        + many, Hope, and glen cullen (below).

    3. glen cullen
      January 7, 2023

      Could that be because our governments focus is on satisfying the immigrants, the EU treaties and the UN WEF agenda, rather than concentrating on the needs of the indigenous people of the UK

      1. Donna
        January 7, 2023

        You might say that (as might I) …… Sir John couldn’t possibly comment.

      2. The Prangwizard
        January 7, 2023

        The government does not recognise the identity of the indiginous people, that is to say the English. It grants clear democratic identity to the Scots the Welsh and the Northern Irish, but there is no such recognition of England. It is their plan to disintegrate England. This is also in line with EU politics which they follow.

        1. Your comment is awaiting moderation
          January 7, 2023

          +1

    4. Philip P.
      January 8, 2023

      But ambulances are now privately run, LL. They have an NHS logo on them but that’s all.

  2. Mark B
    January 7, 2023

    Good morning.

    . . . under Labour from 1997 to 2009 by a massive 50% , but productivity fell 2% . . .

    And

    Under the Conservatives pre covid by 2019 output was up again by a more restrained 8% . . .

    Maybe, but the size of the State continue to balloon under the Tories.

    Part of the problem is shortermism. Every government has between 4 and 5 years and all want to see results to public services in that time to be re-elected. This makes them embark on policies that are only designed to deliver a shorterm tix, like employing foreign nurses and doctors rather than training our own.

    You also have to deal with the political football that the likes of the NHS have become and the fact that this heavily unionised organisation will resist any change.

    I see no end in sight to this misery. Everyone is getting the feeling that the nation is deliberately being run into the ground and for democracy to fail clearing the way for the Big Reset.

    You just know it.

    1. Shirley M
      January 7, 2023

      + many, Mark B. I agree with all the points you make.

      1. Hope
        January 7, 2023

        JR, seems to forget the mess his party and govt made of privatising water companies, railways, Royal Mail, Banks and energy companies. All coming home to roost. Profits kept by individuals losses by the taxpayer.

        Then we have all those left wing quangos Environment Agency, Ofgem, Ofwat ASA…… how many times are we taxed for the services duplicated under council and govt control!

        I know it is world events, the way the wind blows and that rotten Putin!!

    2. Ian B
      January 7, 2023

      @Mark B + 1 ‘Maybe, but the size of the State continue to balloon under the Tories.’ Maybe the 12 years of Conservative rule and the promise of the Bonfire of the Quango’s coupled with the highest tax receipts for the Government in generations – for them then to just give our money away, is in fact the real truth of the modern Conservative thinking.

      The refusal to manage by the executive, comes to mind. Or maybe they just don’t know how or care.

      1. Hope
        January 7, 2023

        IanB,
        ++++1 highest taxation poorest public services… under Tory Party.

        All those promises to sort out public services and Whitehall from Francis Maud to Cummings to JRM.

        JR seems to still want to pass the blame just like his party and govt. NHS highest quartile, top five, for money spent bottom quartile for outcome! Tory answer give it more money!! Hunt was in charge for the longest time, I know make him chancellor!

        1. Lifelogic
          January 8, 2023

          Exactly appalling value for money. Hunt was a disaster as Health Sec. google the endless NHS scandals yet still nothing done to stop the thousands of negligence caused deaths.

    3. Hope
      January 7, 2023

      M,

      JR forgets 462,000 more public sector bean counters in recent years, JRM was going to cut head count by 91,000 Sunak and Hunt reversed JRMs proposal!! Osborne hired 2,000 more tax inspectors! How many MPs- Cameron was going to cut the number, how many pay rises since corruption scandal to stop them thieving- Sunak blocked public knowing backhanders from lobbying groups!, MPs have how many staff, how much do their offices cost, recently all listening to President’s wife from Ukraine!! Not as if they had anything better to do. How much time/years spent thwarting Brexit? Still at it. Sunak in his speech claimed closer working with world partners, is this code for alignment with EU?

      To increase productivity we need to get rid of Tory and Labour socialist parties. Vote Reform for conservatism.

    4. Mark B
      January 7, 2023

      For those interested please go to YT and type in the search box –

      “The Royal Mail Electric Van Scam – Part 2 – NOW it all makes sense…”

      1. Your comment is awaiting moderation
        January 7, 2023

        Shocking.
        Surely this is illegal?

      2. glen cullen
        January 7, 2023

        I wonder if anyone in government is investigating this ?

  3. Cuibono
    January 7, 2023

    Major decreed that everyone had suddenly become Middle Class so everything, exams, recruitment and the job itself had to be dumbed down to make the glass slipper fit.
    Next came the ever-expanding inclusion and diversity industry and slowly but surely these agendas became more important than the jobs in hand.
    Whoever thought that jobs could be done effectively from home? They can’t.
    And just think of all the ludicrous and expensive “away weeks” spent at bogus courses in hotels.
    These made it possible for those who could BS at a flip chart to rise up the ranks at the expense of those who were happy to actually do a job of work but had no desire to become a clown or actor.
    It is no surprise that nothing gets done anymore.
    Or was it really all to destroy the public sector and get everything done online? Which just does not work.

    1. Berkshire Alan
      January 7, 2023

      Certainly agree with many of your points, but also self discipline and work ethic in both families and individuals has decreased over the last couple of generations, as the so called safety net of Government polices have expanded beyond what would have ever been dreamt feasible 50 years ago, likewise the huge growth in the scale and scope of taxation, and the deliberate attempt at the redistribution of so called wealth, and the attack by all Governments on the self employed and small businesses, with a complication of everything to do with more and more regulation, fees, taxes and fines, in their many forms.
      In simple terms the Government has lost the plot, and lost control of its vast number State employees, who now tell management how they want to work !

      1. Hope
        January 7, 2023

        Council budgets and head count grow and grow with no accountability. Ever increasing hikes in community charge. Sunak and Hint’s proposal Balkanisation of England to give councils more power!!! Same from Starmer, accept he calls it devolution! The last devolution cost a fortune but blocked England having a parliament voice or representation, added more layers of bureaucracy and stopped things getting done as we saw during covid! Police commissioners and mayors rejected by public now being forced on us! The EU structural plan is brought back with vengeance.

      2. Lynn Atkinson
        January 7, 2023

        Bullseye!

      3. a-tracy
        January 7, 2023

        The self-discipline in my family is strong, they are never absent and work hard. The work ethic change for the ones in employment as they expect more time off and less hours, put they do earn more per hour so…. The self-employed are working nearly 7 days per week, the work ethic has not changed, as when not working they are looking for their next job and taking on other work.

      4. Cuibono
        January 7, 2023

        +many
        Agree entirely.

      5. glen cullen
        January 7, 2023

        Agree

  4. Anselm
    January 7, 2023

    Pretence…
    The railways pretend that they are the same as they always was. They ain’t. Many people have never been on a train in the last year. Trains are no use at all to me personally – except for freight. Meanwhile the local roads (in a rapidly expanding area) are a century – yes a century – out of date.
    The NHS is, as you say, full of managers and the condescending and, yes, out of touch management is driving doctors and nurses away fast. There is a ton of money to be made in countries that allow doctors and nurses to work freely. For example UAE…
    The Passport which I am afraid to apply for will, perhaps be granted to me if they ever get round to it. I would love to go abroad to see my daughter in Abu Dhabi. At the moment, I cannot do that.
    And then there is net zero which makes me live in the cold dark house which was once all warm and friendly.
    For all this slackness and, yes, sloth, we get taxed like the Scandinavians.

    1. Dave Andrews
      January 7, 2023

      Same here. We went into London last May, for which the train is very useful, but we’re not expecting to make any journeys using it this year. Yet we contribute to its upkeep via taxes as if we were regular users (not to mention the next generation with government borrowing).

      1. a-tracy
        January 7, 2023

        It’s not like we are the only rail service in the World. There are productivity comparisons, pay comparisons, terms and conditions comparisons and benchmarks that could be investigated, are they?

      2. glen cullen
        January 7, 2023

        So the £150bn on HS2 is a waste of taxpayers money but the majority of MPs and all the cabinet support its build

        1. Paul Cuthbertson
          January 7, 2023

          GC- Birds of a feather flock together, follow the money.

    2. Your comment is awaiting moderation
      January 7, 2023

      It seems like an impossible task to get a GP appointment, they just suggest going to A&E.
      What is the point of the GP then?

  5. Nottingham Lad Himself
    January 7, 2023

    So what do the rentiers, who extort enormous sums simply for owning stuff – generally merely by inheritance – produce then, Sir John?

    Winston Churchill railed against this, but the position only seems to have worsened since.

    Reply Private property is a good thing, underpinning freedom and independence. I look for ways for more to be owners as the majority already are.

    1. Nottingham Lad Himself
      January 7, 2023

      I am a great believer in private property and I own enough for my own purposes, Sir John.

      However, your reply – as ever – is, I think, aimed at the undeveloped, binary, absolutist mind – and why not, as this is just how you obtained your baleful brexit and your party’s time in office?

      1. Donna
        January 7, 2023

        Congratulations on taking two comments to “blame Brexit.” Well done!

        Keep repeating “Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better” and before you know it, you’ll take three comments to mention the B word.

        1. Nottingham Lad Himself
          January 7, 2023

          Donna, if football fans were still talking about 1966 in celebratory tones decades later, why are you so keen to forget about and to bury your magnificent “victory” in 2016?

          1. Donna Walker
            January 8, 2023

            No-one wants to bury the victory. We just wish the sore losers would accept that they lost the vote.

            Since we didn’t get a real Brexit, but the cowardly, pandering to the EU, BRINO the Establishment has foisted on us, I think I have more justification for complaint than you.

      2. Lynn Atkinson
        January 7, 2023

        Oh so you want yo hang onto your own private property.
        Many of us own property and I can tell you that maintaining a property company, especially a commercial one, entails a huge amount of work, stress, planning, continued investment and dedication. Yes in spite of all the hours I ‘work’ on my property portfolio, the Government decrees that I don’t have a business, I have ‘unearned income’.
        Now there is a way around this. My husband could be employed by me to manage my properties, and I could be employed by him to manage his. But British people DON’T WANT TO FIND WAYS AROUMD THINGS. They want sensible and just laws under which we are all happy to live.

      3. Martyn G
        January 7, 2023

        The Conservative party cannot be blamed, as you allege, for Brexit. All they did was to ask we, the people, to decide and when we reached a decision, the disappointed PM jumped ship and departed the scene.

        1. Peter Parsons
          January 7, 2023

          They can entirely be blamed for the implementation of Brexit, the “oven ready deal”, the issues with the NI Protocol, the issues that industries such as fishing are experiencing, the additional barriers that exporters are now facing etc.

        2. Nottingham Lad Himself
          January 7, 2023

          Yes, Cameron used a referendum as a cheap General Election gimmick.

    2. Peter
      January 7, 2023

      ‘Reply Private property is a good thing, underpinning freedom and independence. I look for ways for more to be owners as the majority already are.’

      Except that fewer will be owners in the future – as Klaus has indicated.

      Younger people cannot afford to buy houses. Older people will have much of their estate confiscated when they die.

      1. Nottingham Lad Himself
        January 7, 2023

        They have to liquidate it to pay for care/treatment.

    3. graham1946
      January 7, 2023

      Once you start renting you are almost certainly making absolutely sure that you will never own a house of your own. The fact of the majority being owners is a thing of the past. With rents and taxes it is becoming evermore impossible to own unless you have money to become a landlord.

    4. a-tracy
      January 7, 2023

      NLH had to look up the terms so thought I‘d share them.
      A rentier = : a person who lives on income from property or securities.
      Extort = obtain (something) by force, threats, or other unfair means.
      Churchill 1909 – “Roads are made, streets are made, services are improved, electric light turns night into day, water is brought from reservoirs a hundred miles off in the mountains – and all the while the landlord sits still. Every one of those improvements is effected by the labour and cost of other people and the taxpayers. To not one of those improvements does the land monopolist, as a land monopolist, contribute, and yet by every one of them the value of his land is enhanced. He renders no service to the community, he contributes nothing to the general welfare, he contributes nothing to the process from which his own enrichment is derived … the unearned increment on the land is reaped by the land monopolist in exact proportion, not to the service, but to the disservice done.”

      1. Peter Parsons
        January 7, 2023

        Churchill making the case for a Land Value Tax more eloquently than I certainly could.

        LVT could replace Council Tax and all the various charges relating to development and development permissions. It’s also rather difficult to evade since land can’t be offshored to somewhere like the Cayman Islands.

        1. Berkshire Alan
          January 7, 2023

          Peter.
          Local Authorities should be taxing residents to pay for the services provided, not on variable house or land price basis, which have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with service provision.
          The Poll tax was the right way to go but unfortunately was dumped because the people who at the time paid nothing towards the services they use, refused to contribute.

          1. Peter Parsons
            January 8, 2023

            The Poll Tax was completely regressive. The more someone earned, the lower the effective rate of taxation. There would be major objections if the basic rate of income tax was raised to 45% with the top rate cut to 20% (a swap), but that is exactly the model the Poll Tax implemented. Someone’s ability to contribute should be a factor in the level of their contribution.

            It is perfectly possible to implement a LVT on a local authority by local authority basis and do so in a revenue neutral way. There have been papers produced which have shown how to do it and LVT is used in a number of countries around the world so there are real world examples and models that can be used and learnt from.

            If you wish to see each individual contribute, then perhaps a Local Income Tax (easy enough to collect through the existing PAYE system simply by adjusting someone’s personal allowance) could be combined with an LVT as a replacement for Council Tax (which is a very badly implemented tax – in the part of the street I live on, there are identical properties – identical being the exact same size, same rooms, same room layout – spread across 3 different Council Tax bands – how can that be possible?).

            Reply The Council contains a strongly progressive event in the house value banding gearing tax to a person’s housing worth.

    5. glen cullen
      January 7, 2023

      It seems strange that a Tory MP utters the words ‘freedom and independence’ in this era, knowing that in practise this governments policies are all about restricting, banning, taxing and regulating the people

  6. Philip P.
    January 7, 2023

    Sir John, your Telegraph article continues to suggest, misleadingly, that rail workers are part of the public sector. Yet in reality the majority of the 115,000 people employed by the rail industry (Wikipedia) work for private companies. You are therefore to a large extent critiquing private sector productivity.

    Your model of productivity growth and wage growth leaves out an important component: shareholder value. Pre-Covid, the rail operators were paying a large part of their taxpayer subsidy to shareholders.

    Reply The railway is largely under government control getting far more of its money from subsidy than fares

    1. Nottingham Lad Himself
      January 7, 2023

      Yes, and Royal Mail is no more public sector that is Tesco either.

      1. a-tracy
        January 7, 2023

        Well The Royal Mail is slightly more public sector in that their old public sector pension pot and workers under that scheme are still obligated to be paid by the State [the Government would take over the pension liabilities accrued up to March 2012 and a share of the pension fund’s assets,]

        1. Nottingham Lad Himself
          January 7, 2023

          So yet another huge bung by team PAYE to the Tories’ mates, eh?

          1. a-tracy
            January 7, 2023

            Who are the Tories mates, the employees of the Post Office before March 2012?

    2. Peter
      January 7, 2023

      The railways are crippled by Tory dogma that privatised is always better than publicly owned. They will not lose face by admitting this was a mistake for rail.

      So you have a disjointed franchise system where individual companies profit and loss accounts are stuffed full of government subsidy, while the system is fractured with an expensive fare system.

      All the problems of the old with new ones added.

      1. graham1946
        January 7, 2023

        It was a mistake for most of it except maybe for BT. It gave a short term boost to money the government could blow, did not do much for service to the public, but has resulted mostly in rip off prices and profits being sent abroad.

      2. a-tracy
        January 7, 2023

        For me Peter the decision to take the franchise off Virgin and give it to the new train company was a grave error, we stopped using trains because of it.

      3. Mark
        January 7, 2023

        The subsidies and inefficiencies would be even larger if the whole was owned by the state, rather than just Network Rail. It is micro-managed by ORR as it is.

        1. Philip P.
          January 7, 2023

          Network Rail is a public body, Mark, the train companies are private. All private sector operators are regulated, e.g. British Airways is regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority. If you think Great Western, which I use quite a lot, is micro-managed, I’d like to know how.

      4. glen cullen
        January 7, 2023

        ”Tory dogma that privatised is always better than publicly owned”
        Not so for Channel 4 or the BBC

    3. Narrow Shoulders
      January 7, 2023

      Both the railways and Royal Mail are government created monopolies.

      1. Hat man
        January 7, 2023

        For-profit privately run monopolies, NS. Rather like the water companies such as my local one, which reportedly spends more on paying shareholders than on investment.

  7. BOF
    January 7, 2023

    Well who could disagree with your article this morning Sir John.

    I wish you had also impressed on your readers that the public sector is off the scale too big and needs a massive cull, in many cases whole sectors, in particular the woke diversity and inclusion industry.

    The golden rule should be that government does as little as possible and the private sector does the rest. But what do I know, I’m just a conservative.

    1. roger frederick parkin
      January 7, 2023

      Absolutely agree.

  8. James1
    January 7, 2023

    It’s too late for the government to do anything that will save them from annihilation at the next general election. A majority remember their asinine response to the pandemic, (such as you can’t visit your mother but an estate agent can visit her), not to mention other disastrous lockdown impositions upon our freedoms.

    1. Donna
      January 7, 2023

      My “favourite” recollection from the Covid lunacy was the announcement that eating a Scotch Egg miraculously stopped the virus from infecting you. I have tested that theory to destruction over the past couple of years.

      I haven’t had any of the gene therapies since it was known from the outset that they didn’t prevent you getting Covid and I don’t participate in medical experiments, but I’ve eaten a great many Scotch Eggs and miraculously I haven’t had Covid. So that’s obviously the way out of the lunacy.

      Perhaps we need a new slogan “a Scotch Egg a day will keep the doctor away.”

      1. Hope
        January 7, 2023

        J and D,
        My favourite was Johnson’s exemption of cleaners and nannies were the most hypocritical. Undoubtedly to help him personally. Of course he had Carrie’s friend for Christmas lunch as a child minder and we were expected to believe it!!

        Apparently driving hundreds of miles to test your eyes was okay as well!!

        Why not drive to test if you are sober enough to do so? What could possibly go wrong.
        .

      2. Cuibono
        January 7, 2023

        +1
        Is that not an excellent example of post hoc ergo propter hoc?
        The best since Parson Woodforde’s remedy of rubbing a black cat’s tail on a stye.
        Don’t share your secret with SAGE or we will be required by law, for evermore.. to eat Scotch Eggs…
        And I think there is an egg shortage.

      3. glen cullen
        January 7, 2023

        My “favourite” recollection from the Covid –
        The Merseyside tunnels stopped giving you change at the toll booths because of potential virus transfer on coinage ….nine months later they’re continuing with the policy as it’s a extra revenue earner (I found out at Christmas visiting family in the Wirral, I give the attendant £5 against the £2 cost expecting £3 in change, he said no change, no change more on – all those £3s add up)

      4. Peter
        January 7, 2023

        If you rebrand the humble Scotch Egg as an ‘artisan’ or ‘gourmet’ item you can now charge a fortune for it in pubs.

        This is useful for an industry where profit margins on drink are low and publicans look to compensate with food sales.

        Gone are the days of an inexpensive ploughman’s lunch or low cost meal options. Unremarkable lunchs and dinners are priced from £13 or £14 pounds upward.

        Scotch Egg the saviour of the pub trade?

  9. Cuibono
    January 7, 2023

    Meanwhile the net of tyranny continues to be cast unabated with the help of useful idiots who believe they are pursuing equality and liberty.
    Via masks and restrictions.
    How they love to stay at home …until the final electronic lock clicks into place.

  10. Garret
    January 7, 2023

    All of what you say is mucn easier said than done
    Your “Something for something” will get us nowhere – we need to get some national pride back but am afraid we are being let down on all sides by poor leadership

    President Kennedy once famously said –
    Ask not what your country can do for you
    ask what you can do for your country

    But am afraid we are a long way from that/ we need good decent honest leadership to captain the ship with less of the spin and raazzmatazz and party gates someone more like a Volodymer Zelenskeyy? But who?

    1. Bloke
      January 7, 2023

      Kennedy read what was in his script. Voters value those who achieve results above charisma. Opinions of the most suitable person vary in the millions through Rachel Reeves, Penny Mordaunt, Diane Abbot, Nigel Farage and many outside politics. Anyone sensible would be better than what presently exists.

      1. Garret
        January 7, 2023

        Bloke – I don’t believe it Kennedy was his own man for the short while he was here – that’s why they conspired to get rid if him like they did for his brother – Kennedy stood up to khruchauv he was the great leader of his time – the American people adored him only thing was the dark forces and big business disapproved and the rest is history – depends on which version you want to believe – and now in this generation we have another charismatic leader in Ukraine ‘Zelenskyy’ a modern spartacus willing to sacrifice everything for his country and his people – it ‘s all playing out before our very eyes – I don’t see anything like it here – not since Churchill.

        1. Clough
          January 7, 2023

          Garret, I think you mean Z. is prepared to sacrifice his country and his people, upwards of 100,000 of them so far. I wonder how many of them voted for him in 2019, when he promised a peaceful resolution of the Donbas conflict, with the local people allowed some autonomy and the right to use their own language. Then he did a 180-degree turn in 2021 and massed an army against those people. Maybe not his fault – he was being told what to do by the extreme nationalists, who know how to deal with those who disagree with them. But considering this vain, manipulated little man as some kind of hero, I find quite distasteful.

    2. Lynn atkinson
      January 7, 2023

      You have got to be joking!
      In any negotiation, thankfully unlike Zelensky the U.K. Govt is negotiating, you need a strategy and a ‘something for something’ beats a ‘nothing for everything’ all day long. Are you suggesting that Zelensky and Kennedy obtained ‘everything for nothing’ ‘what you can do for your country?’ In Zelensky’s case the Telegraph reports that 400 Ukrainians lay down their lives every day in recent weeks!
      Even I think that the Unions would be right to dig their toes in and oppose that proposal 😂😂

      1. Richard II
        January 7, 2023

        Not negotiating when you’re losing may be a position the Kiev regime comes to regret. NATO countries are not going to be dragged into the ground fighting, that’s clear by now. Kiev’s army commander, General Zaluzhny, said in a recent interview that to win he will need hundreds of tanks and missile systems, but he won’t get these any time soon. He will shortly be facing overwhelming Russian forces, once their recently mobilised reservists are fully deployed, and ground conditions favour the offensive.

        By negotiating, Kiev will be able to keep something of Ukraine even if it has to concede something (parts where people prefer to live in Russia). By not negotiating it will remain stuck in a conflict it can’t win, that is causing horrendous suffering to its people. I don’t think we should be prolonging the war by continuing to send weapons that Ukrainians will die using, but will not enable them to defeat Russia. I don’t find this very ethical.

  11. beresford
    January 7, 2023

    Imagine a ten-coach train travelling for an hour or more with just a driver sat at the front in his isolated cab. The carriages would be like Dodge City, with ordinary passengers defenceless against the predations of yobbos drunkards and criminals and unable to leave the train to escape.

    1. James Freeman
      January 7, 2023

      I remember this situation well; from my time travelling with British Rail in the late 1970s.

      But Sir John is not suggesting this. Driverless trains have been possible since the 1980s. So most of the guard’s responsibilities would remain, with them taking over the remaining tasks of the driver. This approach has worked fine on the Docklands Light Railway since 1987.

      1. beresford
        January 7, 2023

        The Railway Children Part Three. A landslide has blocked the track. The quickthinking children set off in the anticipated direction of approach of the train, waving brightly-coloured items of their clothing when they see its approach. The driverless train speeds impassively by and ploughs into the obstruction. A sensor in the wreckage detects the situation and sends out an automated distress call. In the nearby town pedestrians leap for their lives as the driverless ambulances surge out of their silos.

        1. anon
          January 8, 2023

          The driverless train , having no forward looking sensors, or embedded trackside or embedded in the actual line.

          We could just tarmac them over and allow faster than motorway, heavybus traffic, propulsion fuelled by requirements, electric,hybrid or other.

      2. Mark
        January 7, 2023

        The Victoria Line, opened in 1968, was capable of driverless operation. The unions went on strike, and demanded driver presence and some degree of button pressing – and then asked for (and got) extra pay on top for “boredom money”.

    2. Barry
      January 7, 2023

      It would take more than a guard or two to keep that lot in order. In any case, I clearly remember slam-door compartmented trains with no corridor. No guards there.

      In 2023 we have cameras.

    3. formula57
      January 7, 2023

      @ beresford – I can, but too imagine a four region state with ordinary citizens defenceless against the predations of yobbos, drunkards and criminals and unable to leave the country to escape.

    4. glen cullen
      January 7, 2023

      I believe that this government is also in favour of driverless cars, driverless lorries, pilotless aeroplanes and possibly captainless ships ….its a brave new world (migrants delivering food and driving ‘L’ plate scooters okay)

    5. Narrow Shoulders
      January 7, 2023

      Given that these people are permitted to waltz through the gates without paying by those in attendance at stations I don’t see how one unarmed guard on a train is going to make much difference.

      1. Fedupsoutherner
        January 8, 2023

        NS. My neighbour is a guard or ticket inspector. He freely admits that if there’s any form of violence he ignores it and just phones through to the office at the next stop. As you say why woukd a lone man or woman want to tackle half a dozen thugs on a train?

  12. Nigl
    January 7, 2023

    You are wasting your time. Sunak is a One Party Tory group puppet determined to conciliate their way to electoral oblivion.

    He has zero charisma or any fight whatsoever. The fact that the ‘tailors dummy’ Starmer is beating him at the polls, says it all.

  13. Javelin
    January 7, 2023

    Harry has caught the wokevid virus.

    Main symptom is grifting by acting as a victim.

    Some other victims include public sector HR managers, oxbridge students, extinction rebellion supporters and globopoliticians

    1. Javelin
      January 7, 2023

      My psychological explanation of WOKE is quite interesting and is relevant to some public sector management.

      Back in the late 1950s we saw the phenomena of “teenagers” where childhood was extended into puberty and up to 19 years of age. The behaviour of teenagers could be characterised as children in adult bodies. The wealth of parents allowed teenagers to extend their childhood into adult bodies.

      One of the features of teenagers was using their parents love to “guilt-trip” they into giving them the resources they needed. Most famously “Kevin” depicted by Harry Enfield “It’s not fair” and their parents weak attempt to pacify him.

      Today we seen the teenage phenomena extended into adulthood where the resources are made available to adults who act like children. “It’s not fair”, “How dare you”, “my truth”, “toxic masculinity” etc.

      All I need is a word like “teenager” to capture their childish behaviour as adults.

      1. Donna
        January 7, 2023

        Kidults.

      2. Berkshire Alan
        January 7, 2023

        Javelin
        Indeed, it has now gone so far you can officially even change your Gender if you think you do not like what you were born with or as !
        Who would have dreamt that possible 50 years ago !
        Who would have thought it possible to be able to claim Benefits/credits/allowances of any sort when earning £50,000 a year, when certain family circumstances are taken into account.
        We now have some polices where taxes are charged on taxes, (fuel duty and then VAT)
        Many other examples.
        No wonder the Strivers are shrinking !

      3. Cuibono
        January 7, 2023

        +many
        Agree 100%
        Teenagers were earning good money in factories in those days.
        What a wonderful opportunity to create new markets and new identity groups to destroy parental control and thus families.
        And coincidentally I was banging on to OH this morning about “victimhood” being the root cause of all this mayhem!

      4. Lynn Atkinson
        January 7, 2023

        Actually the phenonomen is very apparent in our dogs. We feed them so they never progress from ‘play-fighting’ ‘play-stalking’ etc. they are warm, safe, cared for, so I admit, all my dogs remain ‘puppies’ all their lives.
        It is responsibility and reality that straightens people out. Causes them to choose between starving or working. Protect them from that and you have very old and strong children to deal with forevermore.

  14. DOM
    January 7, 2023

    A pointless article that deliberately avoids the fundamental core issue. The Marxists are now in CONTROL

    1. Peter
      January 7, 2023

      DOM,

      It is an article that offers suggested solutions. It will doubtless be ignored as the government ploughs on regardless. Still rather harsh to say it is ‘pointless’.

      DOM,

      A pattern on the site has emerged of questions to Ministers stonewalled and essays on current issues that will go unheeded by those in power. Over on ‘Conservative Home’ David Gauke is indulged as the New Normal. So an alternative, more traditional path is offered here.

      Apart from waiting until the government can be removed what would you suggest ?

      Plenty of ideas on here that will never come to fruition and the same on Guido Fawkes, but what realistically can be done?

    2. Hope
      January 7, 2023

      +1
      Not pointless. I submit to show voters a ray of false hope that something can be done. Unfortunately JR forgets 13 years have passed where the services in the country could have radically changed to anything the Tories wanted. They chose not to.

      They wanted to copy EU, copy and build on Labour policy. So clueless they hired and hire former Labour ministers because former Tory ones might want conservatism and reject all forms of socialism. Marxism being allowed to penetrate society through public services and education. China model of private business u dear totalitarian control is the way forward, who better to lead than a gospel of CCP one Jeremy Hunt.

    3. BOF
      January 7, 2023

      Yes DOM, I agree, the Marxists are in control of the CS and that is why the numbers will not be cut (turkeys do not vote for Christmes!) and why productivity will not improve. Worse, ministers never stand up to them so to all intents and purposes, the CS is in charge, not the elected MP’s.

  15. Bloke
    January 7, 2023

    Workers should be paid the competitive value of what they do.
    Those who expect more for doing nothing of higher value seek charity.

    1. hefner
      January 7, 2023

      How would one judge ‘the competitive value of what’ a mason, an architect, a soldier, a policeman, a GP, a surgeon, a nurse, a trader, a journalist, a MP, a Government Minister, a planning officer, a land owner, a multi-BTL owner, a bank employee, a bank manager, a global chief strategist of an investment company, a lawyer, a judge, a member of the Royal Family … does?
      Who should decide that value? And value to whom? Should the ‘market’ decide? Somebody? Some bodies? Should that be decided by referendum?
      Or are some on this incomplete list not ‘workers’ and therefore do not have to justify any ‘competitive value’?

      1. Bloke
        January 7, 2023

        hefner:
        The consumer end-user decides what is worth paying for or rejecting. Owners and employers have to judge how much each component of their product or service is worth and risk the losses of overpaying. UK citizens decide whether MPs or other representatives are worthy and react accordingly. Market price is a well-balanced mechanism.

  16. Donna
    January 7, 2023

    The fact that Sir John feels it necessary to spell out these basic tenets of Conservatism to a supposedly Conservative Government – after 12 years of supposedly Conservative Government – tells us all we really need to know.

    Conservatism is dead in the Establishment’s Governing Class. You can vote for Red Socialism; Orange Socialism; Yellow/Black Socialism north of the border; Green Socialism or the Blu-Green Socialist Hybrid Cameron created in order to be allowed to form a Government.

    The institutionally left-wing Civil Service, Quangocracy, BBC and wider Public Sector are running this country …… into the ground …… and if you expect the LibCONs Sunak and Hunt to do anything to stop it you are indulging in an exercise of self-delusion.

    1. IanT
      January 7, 2023

      Ultimately, the problem with Public Sector organsations is their Senior Management (or lack of it).
      In the Private Sector, poor performance results (eventually) in a savage culling at the top, whether by the Board, Shareholders or by the business simply collapsing.
      In the Public Sector, the Politicians are effectively the Board, we are the Shareholders but the ‘business’ is not subject to normal commercial (profit & loss) pressures. So poor management is never culled, at worst it moves.
      We currently have a situation where all Parties are socialist at heart and where politicians have lived for 50 years without the restraint of ‘real money’. They’ve never had to make hard choices, they’ve been able to print their way out of trouble. We (the Shareholders) have no effective power because all our voting options are the same and will not result in toughness required. I’m afraid this status-quo will prevail until the economic circumstances become so dire that our ‘Leaders’ are finally forced to act. Until then, our Public Services will continue their steady decline towards Soviet levels of performance.

    2. rose
      January 7, 2023

      Donna, the worn out cliche, “12 years of Conservative government” should be broken down to make any sense.

      2010-2015 was an administration in coalition with the Liberals who held greater sway than their numbers suggested they should. One example was the Energy Secretary’s negligence in not making provision for nuclear power in the 2020s. The DPM, another Liberal, said it wasn’t worth doing. (Claim removed Ed)Another example was the DPM’s packing of the House of Lords with 100 failed Liberals. This hampers legislation to this day on all sorts of fronts, not just the EU. Did he also foist PR on elections which are not parliamentary or local? Mayors, Police Commissioners, Metromayors etc? Creeping electoral reform in the Liberals’ favour which has already taken hold in the Devocracies.

      2015-16 was a year of small Conservative majority in which we got the referendum. We also got William Shawcross as Charity Commissioner.

      2017-19 We got the Mayhem, courtesy of the remainiacs in the Conservative Party. Besides tying us up tightly in the EU, with no escape clause, she quickly threw away the majority. After her resignation, her successor inherited a minority of 21 and the Traitors’ Parliament ruled. They passed the Surrender Act whose consequences are with us still, especially in N Ireland.

      2019 At last a Conservative majority, but marred at once by floods, plague, and war. And throughout by remainiac guerilla warfare in the media, civil service, the courts, and Parliament.

      2022 the first remainiac coup d’etat, after several attempts, took place in the summer, followed by their second coup d’etat in the autumn.

      Contrast all this with the 13 uninterrupted years Blair and Brown enjoyed, in which to do what they wanted, with almost no opposition from anyone. Those are the 13 years people should be concenrating on. Those were the revolutionary years the Conservatives should have been undoing, at the very least, but when?

    3. Hope
      January 7, 2023

      D,
      +1
      Conservatism is not dead that is why you and others like me pass comment. Reform Party is the only Conservative party.

    4. BOF
      January 7, 2023

      Well said Donna.

    5. Paul Cuthbertson
      January 7, 2023

      Spot on Donna. The Globalist UK Establishment have always run the show but not for much longer. Nothing can stop what is coming, NOTHING.

  17. Bryan Harris
    January 7, 2023

    Collective pay bargaining has brought us to this state whereby ‘everyone gets the same’. A great socialist concept.

    Why is it not possible for individual effort and accomplishments drive pay rises – It works well for the productive side of the economy.

    This would be the way to reduce Union power and make individuals do a better job.

    1. Bloke
      January 7, 2023

      Bryan:
      Collective bargaining is like buying a bag of tomatoes by weight and accepting the cost of the squashed, tasteless and rotten ones.

  18. The Prangwizard
    January 7, 2023

    We know we need more hospital beds. What rule, if there is one, states how much floor space is required for a bed? Reduce it so as to get more beds in each ward – except emergency ones. Let’s say one or two per ward. That could be arranged quickly I dare say.

    If there are no rules and it’s entirely within the power of managers, how many beds were added this way in 2022?

    Why, when I see tv reports, is so much floor space generally used for bulky sized machines? This seems to apply generally to every item including beds.

    1. a-tracy
      January 7, 2023

      800 fully equipped beds were put in the Birmingham Nightingale hospital in just nine days. It was an impressive feat of military and construction engineering and precision. https://engineeringmatters.reby.media/2020/09/29/nhs-nightingale-birmingham-nine-days-to-build-a-hospital/

      I wonder how many nurses at each grade level work on a ward of 4 beds, 6 beds, 10 beds. Are there bigger wards now in some hospitals, once I stayed on a ward in Manchester with about 30 beds in one room, without barriers, and with so many visitors allowed around each bed all day long it was a very uncomfortable place to be and one I couldn‘t wait to get out of, I decided to use my income to pay private medical insurance from that day on.

      These Nightingales from photos seem to have bed bods to help to stop cross contamination and no curtains which I think are a big spreader of germs.

      1. Berkshire Alan
        January 7, 2023

        a-tracy

        Real problem was the Nightingales were never used, I wonder if it really was a shortage of NHS workers, or simply internal politics.
        Left hand and right hand clearly not in agreement or even perhaps in consultation.

    2. forthurst
      January 7, 2023

      In 2010 there were 169,681 hospital beds in the UK but by 2020 there were 131,795. The way to save money is by
      slashing the number of managers who are not medically qualified. Some of these people are not even safe to have responsibility for NHS healthcare. Although the number of beds has been reduced that does not mean a commensurate reduction in ward space which could be re-opened following a clear-out by the electorate of incompetent politicians.

      1. a-tracy
        January 7, 2023

        Yes and Labour had already got rid of 26,000 beds

  19. Ian B
    January 7, 2023

    “More money for the public sector must be something for something.”

    There should also be full comprehensive accountability and responsibility in every sector that is receiving our/taxpayer money.

    It appears wrong that the rest of us has to cut back, make sacrifices – yet those that take our money don’t.

    In our modern world instant records of expenditure are not only desirable, it is hard to see why they are not regularly and transparently made available to those doing the paying. The lack of this transparency at the very least suggests some sort of underhanded skulduggery

  20. Dave Andrews
    January 7, 2023

    On the news today they say most of the NHS treatment is for people who wouldn’t be able to afford it if there were no NHS and they had to pay privately.
    I can believe that, with bed-blocking by people who either spent all they had or never earned enough to pay for their own care home fees. It’s high time an insurance scheme was set up which would pay out when someone needed a care home. Make it a requirement the tax free lump sum available from pensions was used as a premium before anything else.

    1. Bloke
      January 7, 2023

      Dave:
      An insurance scheme was set up. It was called National Insurance and used to cover care too.
      Now it costs more than ever, yet is barely covering essentials with many patients being treated badly.

    2. Cuibono
      January 7, 2023

      Oh…
      That sounds a bit like National Insurance!

      When your body lets you down there’s nothing much to live for
      But you might think at least you’d get the things that you paid in for
      You toil for nigh on 40 years to pay your tax and pension
      You thought you’d built a safety net.. but what misapprehension!

      1. Dave Andrews
        January 7, 2023

        You toil on for 40 years so the government can spend all your tax in the year it was collected, and still not have enough for their plans and borrow yet more. Nothing put by for your old age. Today’s state provided care home costs are paid for by today’s taxpayers – as well as borrowing.

        1. Cuibono
          January 7, 2023

          Nobody gifts the government money in terms of contributions.
          The money is loaned to the government …like a gilt..with the expectation of it being returned plus interest.

    3. Paul Cuthbertson
      January 7, 2023

      You still listen to the “news”? Remember, news is not just what happens. It is what a small group of people DECIDE is the news.

  21. agricola
    January 7, 2023

    Some basic realities.
    1. The Private Sector pays for the Public Sector.
    2. A lack of productivity in the Private Sector leads to bankruptsy. No such constraints in the Public Sector until you reach the ultimate bankruptsy of the country.
    3. The Public Sector in which I include Government is directly responsible for the absolutely crap state of the UK and the way it impacts on our people. If you nurtue them in a shitty cage for life they don’t notice and just pass it on to the next generation as a norm. I have travelled and lived around the World and can make comparisons.
    4. The cure, better described as a revolution, wilk never come from Government or the Public Sector itself due to a lack of experience or exertise. The PM no less needs to use the experience of Japanese Motor Manufacturers or their Shinkansen to create effective solutions.
    5. As I illustrated yesterday the NHS is not lacking in medical expertise or compassion, numbers maybe, it is just dreadfully badly managed such that it cannot deal with the simplest challenges productively. My experience was at the coalface, what happens higher up the food chain I dread to think.
    No appologies for length, this is for free as opposed to your lengthy accurate piece for the Telegraph.

    1. Berkshire Alan
      January 7, 2023

      +1

    2. Nottingham Lad Himself
      January 7, 2023

      You fell at the first fence.

      The clue is in the word “sector”.

  22. hefner
    January 7, 2023

    1.5 m NHS staff, 33,000 managers, 1 for 45 staff.
    360 Conservative MPs. It would seem there are up to 17 Government whips, 1 for 21 MPs.
    What about re-reading Matthew 7:3?

    1. rose
      January 7, 2023

      MPs aren’t a workforce. They are not employed by anyone. They don’t produce anything. They represent their constituents and are autonomous. There are continual moves to get them “employed” by a sort of Parliamentary HR department, a quango of unelected faceless bureaucrats who will ultimately have the power to sack them, including constitutionally appointed Ministers of the Crown. But it hasn’t happened yet. They certainly aren’t employed by their parties. Hence the difficulty in whipping them.

    2. Hope
      January 7, 2023

      +1
      Also number of MP and Lords second to CCP.

      If England is Balkanised per current Tory and Labour policy there is no need of so many MPs. 650 cut to say about 50? Or one per region? 14 total?

    3. forthurst
      January 7, 2023

      What is the 24/7 equivalent of the 45 staff? Why are the NHS managers full time but themselves
      employing armies of nurses hired by the gig, many not even trained in this country? Unacceptable.

  23. glen cullen
    January 7, 2023

    Just stopping a days attendance for mental stress, another day for inclusivity, another day for diversity, the day per month team building, the endless networking meetings …get them back to work doing their day job and only their day job – and stop home working

  24. RDM
    January 7, 2023

    “Productivity sounds technical and tedious yet it is the key to economic and individual success.”

    Absolutely!

    Except for Finance, and the city of London, Productivity, in this country has been destroyed!

    Manufacturing Productivity could be far higher, even a successful sector, in this country. If it had a cheap energy strategy, Life Long learning, skills, and training, and access to capital, and access to open markets, without any trade barriers (We do not need to be part of the EU, or controlled by Biden and co, to get free trade agreements)!

    And then add Farming, Fishing, etc,…

    The cost of Devolution, to the Regions and the individuals that live there, alone is destroying Wealth/Productivity, especially for those individuals that are not part of the Nationalist/Socialist Cliques that have grown up there! And, all that has replaced the politics of Westminster, and peoples access to real influence and capital. Wales is still waiting for a M4 Bypass at Brynglas?!

    But now it is getting worst; now we have Net-Zero, Green subsidises, Energy Insecurity, and relaying on Imports, and of course, doing deals (being stabbed in the back) with Biden and the EU.

    Productivity/Wealth, for all? I can’t see it myself!

    Private Property is Freedom!

    Which is why building 300,000+ houses a years, spread over the country (based on need), is so important!

    And, We won’t get any, not until Politicians accept that we need to have in place a political framework, accessible to all, serving all, meeting the needs of all ?

    And, not their pet projects, or the waffle from the current puppet, acting as the PM, he knows he can’t deliver any of the Conservative Manifesto, let alone ensure the Freedoms and Productivity/Wealth of the People, is accessible, accessible to all!

    Work no longer pays! Enterprise is being stifled! High Rents is destroying Savings! Home ownership is only for the few!

    Especially, within the Regions!

    And, that before you mention Taxes?

    All the rest, we have heard before!

    RDM.

  25. Willioam Long
    January 7, 2023

    What you are suggesting, as so often, should go without saying, but its implementation depends on something that without huge change seems inconceivable: the recruitment of ‘Inspirational managers’ to the public sector. My experience of Public sector managers is that most of them have found the commercial world too much like hard work.
    This Government does seem to be asking the Rail Unions for ‘Something for something’, but appears extremely confused as to whether it views the Railways as commercial operations, or social services. Its proposals to extend public ownership as a solution to the problem make it pretty clear that the latter is the case, giving little hope of better value for the taxpayer.
    As for the NHS, so far there is no sign of willingness to confront its problems: HMRC is also in meltdown and Mr Hunt cannot even get its employees to come to their desks.

  26. formula57
    January 7, 2023

    “Taxpayers …. resent tipping more money into services where productivity is falling and where services do not meet the public’s needs” – no, we are inured to it now Sir John, alongside Ministers making grand pronouncements and then achieving nothing.

    One day the Prime Minister (not this one, but a successor but three or four) will be obliged to tell the British people that they can no longer afford the NHS. Then the moaning and hand-wringing will be beyond anything seen before.

  27. Bert Young
    January 7, 2023

    Sir John’s article highlights the huge problem of the public sector – its size ,cost and poor management . He cites the growth of this dilemma during Conservative control . Running the country and its economic condition depends entirely at the top ; the skills , determination and experience have simply not been there and the result is the mess that exists today . The private sector has also dragged its feet compared to international events and the motivation to adopt necessary change has been lacking . A magic wand will not now do the trick .

  28. The Prangwizard
    January 7, 2023

    We hear masses about commuting and now there is less of it and how tough it is for todays workers. In 1969 my darling wife and I lived in the WR of Yorkshire. My employer promoted me to a job in Bishopsgate and required I start within a week. The south was always in need of better trained and harder working ‘northerners’.

    I was found ‘digs’ in Hampstead. I travelled each Sunday night 11pm train to Kings Cross, arrived at 4pm. Got taxi to digs for a couple of hours sleep, then 5 days work and set off back home after lunch Friday.

    Did this for 9 months until I was placed in a new position in the east midlands where my wife and I could then buy a new house.

    Easy in those days eh!

  29. a-tracy
    January 7, 2023

    John, how many hospitals do you have in your electoral area?
    My MP has two main hospitals, they are split into two different council areas and I don‘t know how many hospital trusts.
    Have you ever just gone into A&E unannounced and assisted on reception for a random 12 hour shift?
    I‘d love you to do that. Or just walk in with a walk in Patient. No pre-warning. No announcements. No press.
    Either help or observe.
    We are told most problems stem from A&E, ambulances that can‘t unload. People arriving who aren‘t entitled to NHS care – what are the procedures, are bills raised? Does your A&E have a minor clinic attached? How fast are people processed with minor ailments there.

    Reply There are no A and E hospitals in my constituency.

    1. a-tracy
      January 10, 2023

      Actually, my MP has no A&E hospitals in his constituency either. There are two that serve his constituency. If I were him, I’d want to see these 12-hour delays in A&E for myself without a fanfare, without taking up a Managers time, on the reception would be a start.

      Reply I am well aware of waits and delays and am on the case.

  30. a-tracy
    January 7, 2023

    I‘d also like you to do hospital ward visits on another full day (on the shift length, with only the same breaks and facilities we allow nurses to work – make your own butties just in case facilities are too far away or not adequate) to see and review for yourself.
    Ask for a gown and mask. No press, no team with you. Just take your iPad/notebook and observe.
    How many wards can you see in a 12 hour shift, how many staff per ward/per bed/what grade divisions.
    How many toilets available per how many patients per ward, are patients that are unsteady on their feet the closest to the toilet, are there guide rails for them to hold to walk to them themselves or do they have to rely on bed pans and nursing help to get privacy and a pan could a commode be used? Do they have any toilet seats that clean the patients after using the toilet, the Japanese have these and they could help on the necessary wards. It absolutely terrifies me when nurses write that they have to leave soiled patients in beds for hours because they don‘t have time to change them, they just wipe their hands and face and put a clean sheet over them. It‘s horrific.

    If wards are short staffed, why are scheduled people not in (how many are scheduled per bed in each ward), how long have absent staff been off (when are they scheduled to return?), how many agency staff are on each ward? Are the agency staff doing three days nursing elsewhere in the system as a full-time job and many extra agency hours do they do? How many ward clerks, how many ward managers? Is the ward manager hands on clinical care or behind a desk all shift? What is the computer system like that they are using?

    We need you to check for yourself.

    1. Berkshire Alan
      January 7, 2023

      a-tracy
      Certainly agree with some of your comments having seen such myself when visiting relatives and friends.
      So pray tell me what are all of these expensive managers doing, playing at being managers, internal politics, do they not walk around ands for themselves what is going on. ?
      Surely keeping patients clean, fed, and watered, is the most basic of tasks to avoid infection or skin sores.
      You do not need a fully qualified Nurse to do those tasks other than perhaps in an emergency.
      Hospitals used to employ assistants or orderly’s to complete the more simple and regular non medical tasks, are they not employed any more, if not why not.
      Why do nurses have to clean down and sanitise beds at changeover, when again this is a task that could be completed by a less (highly paid) skilled assistant/operative.
      Why on earth do we need a highly qualified nurse to complete such basic jobs, as that is simply an expensive waste of their talent.

      1. a-tracy
        January 7, 2023

        Alan, I read an article in the Guardian this week that filled me with terror. A long account of a Health Care Assistant about what their shift was like. Thats where I read the soiling story. Healthcare assistants are Nursing staff from grade 2 they do still employ them, those are the ones on the lower grades with the great demands I outlined and I suspect it is those roles they are struggling to fill. There are vocational nursing qualifications that should be available with on ward training as they used to be that don‘t need degree level grades from age 18 and even 16. People we pay benefits for nothing could be used to clean up, change beds, take drinks around, brush hair, when their children are at school in return to the community that supports them as a contribution of hours towards their housing benefits.

        I was visiting my mother in hospital, a lady who couldn‘t get to the toilet alone was in the furthest bed from the toilet. My husband jumped up walked behind her to catch her if she fell and offered her his arm, after she had spent time trying to get help she tried to walk herself to the toilet and was very unsteady, he left her obviously once she got into the toilet we were both on pins until she re-emerged, we were there two hours and one member of staff looked in at the ward once, we were the only visitors. Beepers and buzzers are ignored.

        These constituencies are usually to serve 72,000 I‘m really surprised there is no A&E in John‘s constituency. Where do all those 72,000 people go for A&E?

      2. Fedupsoutherner
        January 8, 2023

        Alan. In Spain the family are expected to do such things and if you have no family you hire a nun.

        1. Mickey Taking
          January 9, 2023

          and no translators.

  31. Mike Wilson
    January 7, 2023

    The fact is that any organisation with guaranteed funding demands more money – endlessly. The more you give them, the more they ‘need’. Government seems incapable of dealing with the public sector and civil service. Mind you, government is on the public dole too. There is no incentive for anyone to do anything. No incentive to stay within a budget or be more productive. The public sector will swallow the productive economy. It is already. Look at the money the NHS costs – but the service is crap. Look at the railways. Education. Local councils – always money for a jolly or new offices, never any money to fix the potholes and pavements. The country is falling apart.

    Also, one reads sometimes of the number of people employed in the public sector and spuroyclaims the numbers have gone down. They haven’t gone down if you take into account all the jobs that used to be public sector jobs but which are now outsourced. Bin men work for private companies these days. And hospital cleaners. And school cleaners. And some of the prison service. If the public sector pays the bill, the job should be counted as a public sector job.

    Sunak couldn’t win a popularity contest if he was the only entrant. What on earth you thought you were doing when you put him in No. 10 is anyone’s guess. It clearly wasn’t with the intention of doing anything or winning the next election. An unelected prime minister, he will go down in history for the biggest election defeat in Tory history.

  32. Stred
    January 7, 2023

    20 years ago Managing Brittania by academics Robert Protherough and John Pick was published. It described how all parts of British institutions and corporations had been taken over by professional managers who could jump from one job to another without having learned the ropes in that industry or organisation. Job adverts for managers would be written in jargon such as ‘The applicant will be required to manage the corporate planning function and a performance review framework including best value and developing key systems processes..’. That one was for the police. During Mrs Thatcher’s time the NHS added 18000 extra managers. Since then public services and quangos have been to a surprising degree infiltrated by the Common Purpose organisation in which the members discuss the motivation and find each other jobs. It is hardly surprising to find that public service expenditure and staff numbers have greatly expanded, while becoming less effective and doing sillier things. Even MI6 has taken to Twitter to tell us and the Russians and Chinese how proud they are to be employing many LGBT and other downtrodden minorities, who are now doing a great job tracking down lone wolf terrorists such as the old bloke who chucked petrol at an asylum centre and then topped himself. The Stonewall approval logos are at the bottom of every tweet. The new boss is from the Foreign Office, where no doubt the civil servants have to share toilets in case anyone is offended by their pronouns being misused.
    Most of the staff in the Business and Energy ministry will no doubt have been selected for their lack of engineering or business experience and arrive on their bikes wearing lycra and rainbows. Meanwhile in the universities and schools any remaining conservative staff who think that their are only 2 genders and some white males are not privileged had better keep quiet in case the HR managers decide not to use these resources, as they plan the next awareness month.

    Let’s face it, there are so many of them and they are in charge of taking taxpayer’s money and spending it on themselves. We would need mass sackings and to employ foreign lawyers to draught the legislation to get rid of them and persuade ordinary cops and soldiers to help remove their bosses.

    1. Stred
      January 7, 2023

      there are

  33. agricola
    January 7, 2023

    Another aspect, today Jacob Rees-Mogg argues logically for the removal of much EU law from the UK statute book, where it hampers taking advantage of our Brexit status. He hints that one of the main obstacles is the upper echellons of the civil service who prefer the status quo. Solution, the PM should confront the relevant secretary/ head of department with a P45. Warning that such forms will flow down through the department until they reach a level at which having a political agenda is seen to be career toxic, and the toxicity ceases. Those who cannot accept do not collect £200 or pass Go, but find a new career in the private sector. It only has to happen in one department and the message will flow through the rest like a bush fire of compliance with government policy. It is called leadership.
    While the outer units of the public service become increasingly vocal to increase their share of a cake that only the private sector can supply, this government act to strangle the private sector and every taxpayer to facilitate it. In simple terms they kill the golden goose. Those they fail to kill go off piste to the black economy or emmigrate to more welcoming and intelligent climes. All done by a government who arrived via a coupe at the behest of an establishment that prefers the status quo or a cosy relationship with the EU. The seeds of rebellion are sewn for the electoral harvest in 2024.

    1. Mark B
      January 8, 2023

      agricola

      What JRM fails to tell you is, only MP’s like himself can remove EU Laws from the UK Statute Book.

      😉

  34. Lindsay McDougall
    January 7, 2023

    Why not do it a much simpler way – eliminate the subsidies and get rid of the unnecessary and unproductive employees, including top level managers? Take the railway system. Instruct Network Rail to levy track access charges that cover or more than cover their inspection and maintenance costs. Withdraw all subsidies. Allow train operating companies to withdraw loss making services. And let rail trade unions negotiate within that envelope. Remove the guarantee of no compulsory redundancies. The more the unions insist on keeping labour costs high, the more services will be withdrawn, and in extremis lines can be shut. We should insist on a railway industry that is profitable. It should be supplying taxation on revenue to the Treasury; it should not be a basket case.

  35. Lindsay McDougall
    January 7, 2023

    Why not do it a much simpler way – eliminate the subsidies and get rid of the unnecessary and unproductive employees, including top level managers? Take the railway system. Instruct Network Rail to levy track access charges that cover or more than cover their inspection and maintenance costs. Withdraw all subsidies. Allow train operating companies to withdraw loss making services. And let rail trade unions negotiate within that envelope. Remove the guarantee of no compulsory redundancies. The more the unions insist on keeping labour costs high, the more services will be withdrawn, and in extremis lines can be shut. We should insist on a railway industry that is profitable. It should be supplying taxation on revenue to the Treasury; it should not be a basket case.

  36. ChrisS
    January 7, 2023

    Thanks to the incompetence of Andrew Bailey and his army of expensive economists at the Bank of England, I have seen profits on my 19 property buy-to-let portfolio fall by 75% in the last six months. I fully expect even higher mortgage costs in the next six months as the idiots at the Bank of England raise interest rates even further and deepen and extend the length of the recession we are in.

    Many BTL Landlords are already running at a loss and if they tried to sell, many would be in a negative equity position once the increased level of CGT has been calculated.

    Perhaps landlords should get together and start a class action to sue Andrew Bailey for incompetence?

    1. Mike Wilson
      January 7, 2023

      Many BTL Landlords are already running at a loss and if they tried to sell, many would be in a negative equity position once the increased level of CGT has been calculated.

      Boo boo. But they are quite happy for renters to pay their BTL mortgage for 25 years – to buy them a house – and make a fortune when they sell it after the mortgage is paid off. You too can become a ‘property millionaire’. But, hey, you want the government to take all the risk out of it. Get real.

      1. hefner
        January 11, 2023

        MW, I can only support that.
        Only 19 BTL properties, poor ChrisS. Please provide account references, I might contribute to ease your pain.

  37. a-tracy
    January 7, 2023

    [Ministers could help the patients dying in NHS hospital corridors right now – they just choose not to] Rachel Clark writes today.

    No mention of which hospitals, how many quote ‚patients‘ are dying in NHS hospital corridors right now. Why not if she has evidence of this to make such a statement.

    She blames [Ministers] John, thats you. Apparently you’re simply ‚choosing’ not to do anything. I don’t believe that at all and You need to fight back and get to the truth, if not all around England (Barker needs to answer her accusations on that) certainly in your hospitals in your constituency.

    There was a thing on the BBC News page today where you could put in your postcode and discover what % of people were left in ambulances for more than 30 minutes trying to book into A&E. How many were waiting over 4 hours in A&E and how many were waiting more than 18 weeks for treatment.

    Where my parents live near Stoke the first number waiting in an ambulance more than 30 mins is 73% (disgusting), 21% in my nearby trust in the same week after Christmas. The Royal Berkshire was 37%.

  38. forthurst
    January 7, 2023

    How much are NHS managers involved in the controversy with regard to the safety of covid jabs?
    This is an issue that should not be politicised and should be left to the medically qualified to address.
    However, the government should insist that all cases of sudden unexplained death are subject to
    pathological investigation.

    1. Nottingham Lad Himself
      January 7, 2023

      An estimated 500 people a week are dying unnecessarily because of the general crisis in the NHS after 13 years of the Tories, yet you fixate on one relatively small area of pharmaceutical safety, which even if the worst possible analysis were to be the case would only account for a minute fraction of those.

      1. a-tracy
        January 7, 2023

        NLH do you honestly believe the NHS has no responsibility? All those managers, trusts, a system receiving more money to operate then ever.

        Do ministers decide how many UK nurses and doctors to train? Or do the doctor unions and nursing unions suggest numbers and training methods? Who advises government ministers?

      2. R.Grange
        January 8, 2023

        No, NLH, significant excess mortality in Britain, continuing for month after month, is a new development, since 2021. That was eleven years after Cameron became PM. It surely isn’t due to 13 years of Tory rule as you suggest. I think LL is quite justified in linking it to questions over the safety of the Covid jabs, rolled out on a large scale in 2021.

  39. Geoffrey Berg
    January 7, 2023

    The article highlights 25 years of failure in the public sector and that is merely relative. I am sure the base public sector ‘productivity’ at the start point 25 years ago was appalling to begin with.
    Sir John Redwood seems to think the answer is whizz-kid Ministers and whizz-kid managers. I doubt even a whizz-kid (say Sir John Redwood as Health Minister) would sort most of this out but even if somebody did when a successor took over management everything would go to ‘productivity’ pot once more.
    May I continue my lone campaign here: The public sector system is inherently inefficient and flawed, is beyond long term cure and the only fundamentally sustainable improvement will come with proper operational privatisation even if some basic services (that shouldn’t include the railways) are publicly financed.
    Proper privatisations might have gone out of fashion since Sir John Redwood helped pioneer them with Margaret Thatcher but privatisation (and the financial incentives for management and customer orientation privatisation brings) is still the answer for most public sector failures.

  40. mancunius
    January 7, 2023

    I fear the point about the workforce getting a wage rise in return for productivity will simply not be accepted by the public sector. Their view is that their jobs are guaranteed, that they are ‘owed’ inflation-proof wages as an entitlement, and that the money all comes out a hole in the wall.

  41. rick hamilton
    January 8, 2023

    Why do we never hear from any of these thousands of ‘overpaid’ or ‘unnecessary’ public sector managers in defence of their positions ? Perhaps because they really are indefensible and a fraud on the taxpayers ?

  42. Dr John de los Angeles
    January 9, 2023

    As always, Sir John, you are spot on. As I have commented before, we have many clinician friends and they all say that the vast, overpaid administrative bureaucracies in every Hospital Trust should be brutally slashed and the running of hospitals put back in the hands of clinicians. The NHS is dying because of a completely incompetent administration.

    I have suffered from a degenerative spine disorder for decades and in the early days of it had private health insurance and successful operations conducted privately. After these, of course, they became a “pre-existing condition” and thus no more private health insurance coverage forcing me into relying on the NHS. At the beginning of 2019, I began to suffer severe spinal pain and I was referred to a Consultant at the Royal London Hospital by my GP. I waited until October 2020 before I saw him and he said that he would arrange MRI scans and pain management. Nothing happened. After formal complaints, I eventually had an MRI scan in January 2022. I heard nothing. After more complaints. I saw another Junior Dr in June 2022. He was so concerned with my MRI scan that he called my consultant in to have a look at it. After a long wait he arrived, had a casual glance at the computer screen and said, “your spine is in a hell of a state and I am not the right Surgeon”!! There was no hint of a follow-up appointment with a “right” surgeon!! My GP was pretty disgusted and referred me to the Arkinson Morley Wing of St Georges Hospital where I will be seeing a “right” Surgeon this coming Wednesday. Over this period I have become unable to walk, my muscles have been wasted and I am wheelchair-bound, all thanks to a completely incompetent part of the NHS. My wife is having similar problems with the Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford where she is being “mistreated” by an incompetent spinal surgeon who should have retired years ago!

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