Thursday, 24 September 2009

Follies and IT Problems

It’s been a tough week back in my usual team. I’ve just enjoyed a very relaxed week ‘on-loan’ to another team during their re-organisation and office move. This I was told as I reported for my first day involved holding the fort for them by acting as duty Care Manager for a week. Fortunately for me the fort saw less action than one of Palmerston’s follies.

I was struck by the difference in culture between my host team and my regular team. In my new team people made tea for eachother, it seems like a small detail but it’s one which is telling. I felt supported and immediately hit it off with all of the team over their regular Monday pub lunch. It started to feel a lot like the French philosophy of work rather than the Anglo-Saxon definition. I wondered with the changes, which will surely over time mean increased workloads, whether this cordiality would disappear. Was the pub lunch like France the day Sarkozy was elected; did change loom in the air?

I was confronted by bureaucracy on the second day the day of the actual move. On of the key elements of the structural change is the merger of NHS teams with Social Services Teams. Community Matrons, Physiotherapists, Care Managers, Rehab Assistants and Social Workers all working together. This presents an IT nightmare. The computers we were using were owned by the NHS Primary Care Trust (PCT). To access these you needed a PCT log-in. Once logged in a separate portal could be used to log-in to the Local Authorities system. In accordance with the Authority’s approach to forward planning nobody had seen fit to issue me with a PCT log in. I was given a number of PCT IT support. I called only to be told that I needed a form completed by a manager to get a log in…. fair enough…. How long does it take?.... “a week” was the curt reply. I ended up, with a managerial blind-eye being turned, using other peoples PCT log-in and then logging myself into the Authority’s system. Unfortunately a security feature means that when the computers switch to power save mode they automatically lock. Not good when the person who’s log on you have used is out of the office and not answering their mobile. My colleagues with PCT log-ins fared no better, some were left without desks, computers, access to printers and others were caught in the middle of a ping-pong match between the Authority’s IT services and the PCT IT services over who was responsible for supplying the fix for each particular IT problem.

Somehow we managed to keep the service together. In part due to the help of my usual team who always play the role of sweeper in the organisation, however, also because it has been decided that though ‘professionals’ (the definition of which is still under debate) can refer directly to the new teams they will not be told they have to until November. This buys the new teams some breathing space. As for November…..

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