Monday, 28 September 2009

It starts at the top, but comes out of the bottom

Many people complain that they have been crapped on by their boss. But they put up with this because their boss is also the person who pays them. Which is fair enough.

How should you respond when you're shat upon by your boss when you're a charity volunteer? That is something I didn't think I'd ever need to contemplate. Surely volunteers are utterly vital to the work of all charities, and when you have a regular group of excellent, hard-working and reliable volunteers, shouldn't you go out of your way to keep them on-board and happy - especially if you're a health charity and some of those volunteers are doctors and nurses?

Soundly pissing them all off via your self-righteous blog is probably not a good idea.

Today, it's a post that confuses "GP" - a doctor trained as a General Practitioner - with "GP practice" - the place where they work, all of the staff within it and all of the services it provides.

If I were to tell you that every GP will get £10.50 for each swine flu jab they give, you would be rightly outraged. If, as is correct, I were to tell you that each GP practice was to be given £10.50 funding for each swine flu vaccination it provides (and the each vaccination consists of two jabs), and that this amount covered all of the administration costs, follow-ups in case of side effects, and actually buying the vaccine in the first place, you'd probably think it was a bit of a bargain.

By taking the completely incorrect first interpretation of this story, quite literally making some other stuff up, and then posting it in his usual "this is gospel" style in his blog, our favourite charity boss has today marked himself out as a Daily Mail-style bullshit peddler of the highest order. He's also massively annoyed his lead volunteer health professional - the person responsible for planning all of the medical training that the charities' team of children's educational holiday volunteers receive. Nice work!

But those volunteers - and especially those at the Edinburgh holiday this year - would expect nothing less. Mr Boss himself volunteered on the Edinburgh holiday, and whist he was there he provided a daily blog so that people could find out what being a volunteer entailed.

So far, so good - it sounds like an excellent plan. Well, here are some snippets from those blog posts:
"We have some excellent volunteer healthcare professionals who will help them keep safe as they enjoy the holiday."

"The fact that asthma nurses are on hand also encourages children otherwise reluctant to try something new."

"The fact we have so many volunteer healthcare professionals here gives real peace of mind."
What's wrong with that, I hear you ask? Well, what about all of the volunteers who aren't health professionals? Don't they deserve a mention? After all, they outnumber the health professional volunteers by a ratio of just over 4:1. It's also worth pointing out that only a small minority of the health professional volunteers are asthma nurses - most are nurses or hospital doctors, although there are some asthma nurses, the odd paramedic and a GP.

But, as shown today, there's no need to let a little thing like facts get in the way of a good soundbite.

Sometimes, I genuinely wonder why we bother.