George Monbiot’s analysis of suffocating bureaucracy in the “marketised” public sector was as accurate as it was depressing to read (We were promised freedom. Privatisation doesn’t deliver it, 10 April). I work in higher education and my wife works in the NHS, and both of us have been driven to despair by the relentless growth of managerial control since the 1990s. The rigid rules and regulations we are bound by, which stipulate not merely which procedures have to be followed for each activity, but how these must be performed, make it impossible for us to do our jobs effectively. The bureaucratic tail now wags the professional dog.
Even while frontline staff are told that lack of funding means posts must remain unfilled, and redundancies imposed, the number of managers increases regardless. These managers then bury already overstretched and stressed frontline staff with more targets, appraisals, medium-term strategic reviews, annual reviews, five-year plans, framework agreements, mission statements, new or revised guidelines, compulsory training courses and away days. As if this was not bad enough, public sector workers are also expected to read a relentless cascade of unintelligible, jargon-filled documentation explaining how they should do their jobs, and what results they are expected to achieve. It is this Soviet-style regime, actually encouraged and embedded by the Tories, that breeds inefficiency, not a lack of professionalism or competence, among frontline staff in the public sector. Doctors, nurses, police officers, probation officers, social workers, teachers and university lecturers desperately want to be allowed to do their jobs enthusiastically and professionally (while fully accepting the need for accountability and efficiency), but the sheer scale of politically imposed bureaucracy and layers of management throughout the public sector makes it impossible.
From The Guardian’s letters page.
That might be Blairite managerialism but it’s not neoliberalism, is it? And how demented do you have to be to believe that it is?