Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Waste, cuts and being poked in two different ends

I am overdue for my smear test. I also needed a blood test and so due to the general pokey feel of both these procedures, decided to make a day of it and book both with a surgery nurse. This wasn't possible however, due to all the nurses who could carry out pokey procedure number 1 being on holiday at the moment. 

Naturally, after being informed of this on the phone, my mind turned to the government's latest mantra of cuts in the public services. The buzz phrase here is 'cutting waste'. But what constitutes waste and what is reasonable leeway? And can whoever is managing these cuts be trusted to know the difference? 

Nobody wants to see their money being pissed away obviously. Having worked in social care, I'm afraid I can think of hundreds of instances of this happening - amounting to thousands of pounds of never to be seen again cash. It won't surprise you to know that most of this foolish squandering was protected by another buzz phrase - company policy. But staff rarely seem to escape unnoticed on account of wages being one of the biggest budgets. 

They tried volunteers, they tried shaving £2.50 of our weekly activities with tenants fund, they tried over-working us to the point of exhaustion in the hope that we would leave. But we stubbornly continued to turn up for work on a daily basis, expecting to get paid. 

But they did have a point in some respects. Occasionally, there was little to do. There were times when I was sat at a bus stop on my way to collect one of my charges and during that time *whispers* I didn't do any work. Sure, I was on-call. I was ready to start barking instructions at agency workers in the case of an emergency. I was willing enough to work. But just couldn't. It was time wasted. But, I would argue, what other options are there? 

What's an empty milk carton if it's not waste? An important question being asked the world over. Alternatives are needed - 'alternatives' being the operative word. Because before it was an empty milk carton, it was an essential vessel for transporting milk from the shop to your home. A obvious point maybe, but have you ever tried carrying milk home by cupping it in your hands? Some things are just necessary. You can spend all day bemoaning a carton's existence but at least you're not crying over spilt milk (haha! No? Oh.)

Slashing staff and their resources may seem like the obvious solution but all too many times you are jeopardising efficiency, undervaluing the positives in what you have and leaving no room to manoeuvre should anything go wrong - and it always will at some point. 

And I lose out on the only chance to be poked in two different ends that I currently have.

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