This week’s diary is by a local authority policy officer


Have been invited to an all day seminar by our new strategic health authority.
Not sure what to expect but the event appears to be well attended by all sorts
of local health and social services luminaries. Needless to say I recognise none
of them. I glaze over when the first presentation begins: "I’m here to
discuss with you the synergies and tensions, in the form of both threats and
opportunities, at the critical interface between localised, community based
primary care services and clustered, focused secondary and acute
provision." What? Answers on a postcard please.

Bump into an old colleague. For a moment I don’t recognise him. He had been
seconded to housing to help set up a customer care scheme for council tenants and
jumped at being seconded into a different field a few months ago. "I
should have done it years ago," he tells me looking relaxed and in a great
mood. I promise to meet him for lunch some time, safe in the knowledge that it
will never happen. I don’t have time for lunch.

Trying to find the meeting room at a local hospital this morning proving to be
difficult. I wander aimlessly around the massive institution. There are hardly
any signs and those that are there direct me to places that don’t exist. There
is no one to ask either and it seems you have to be totally institutionalised
to know where anything is in here. Finally, I ask a very polite gentleman,
don’t know whether he is a staff member or service user, for some directions.
He is very helpful and I eventually find the venue, half an hour late. It is
sparsely attended. How many of my colleagues are still wandering the corridors?

My council is keen on extolling our virtues and raising the profile of the
area. While I agree with this in principle, it’s sometimes difficult to
reconcile the reality with the rhetoric. Go to the employee forum: a huge event
where the achievements of the authority over the past year are shared and
celebrated. But some of my colleagues are in a militant mood and are tired of
the spin. Their concern is for their jobs, the future of their children’s
education, the fact that the council’s leisure facilities seem to be falling
apart and that you can forget getting good services if you are a wheelchair
user. During the questions and answers some blunt questions are flannelled by
the panel and people vote with their feet and disperse long before it is due to
end. Someone needs to take notice.

Enough of work. One of the things I love most is live music and tonight I see
an artist I greatly admire. The show is everything I expect and is utterly
inspiring. I walk out into the cool night air feeling like an excited 15 year
old (again). It’s a fantastic feeling. Only wish this feeling could be created
in the work place.

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