The Percy Principle.
âIn the NHS, every failing CEOÂ tends to move sidewaysÂ to a non-existent role of no consequence but with aÂ similar pay grade.â
Katrina Percy is a huge fan of fresh faced young men with spiky haircuts who speak to her in dulcet tones of how to ‘maximise performance, potential and self-awareness’ – if they want to throw in a bit of transactional analysis, a variety of cognitive behavioural techniques andÂ Neuro-linguistic programming, then she’s all ears. And cheque books – preferably, exclusively it would appear, someone else’s.
The twosome who particularly tickled her fancy were Chris Martin and Paul Gray. They must have tickled it pretty well for she has handed over millions of pounds of NHS funding in order to have them whisper in her ear on a regular basis. Perhaps she has become addicted to their Svengali words?
Paul Gray she has known since she was but a humble director of strategy at Hampshire Community Health Care. PaulÂ specialises in teaching NHS employees ‘longer-term strategic and annual plans’. How could she doubt that his methods worked? Or thatÂ they were worth the Â£602,000 Hampshire Community Health Care paid him. Did KatrinaÂ not go on to become Chief Executive of Southern Health? A bargain – for her, if not for Hampshire Community Health Care.
Then along came Chris Martin. Fresh faced and full of vigour. Chris is master of Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). Dr Richard Bandler, who invented NLP, says it is “a model of interpersonal communication chiefly concerned with the relationship between successful patterns of behaviour and the subjective experiences (esp. patterns of thought) underlying them”. Â He also claimed that NLP could cure problems such as phobias, depression, tic disorders, psychosomatic illnesses, near-sightedness,Â allergy, common cold,Â and learning disorders. I’m only surprised he didn’t include AIDS.
Unfortunately, a number of peer reviewed studies have shown that ‘to date there is no convincing empirical evidence on the efficacy of NLP’.Â
Not to worry. Katrina was convinced. She handed Chris Martin aÂ Â£288,000 contract for three years, with an option for a one year extension. Three years later, Chris Martin had received Â£5.365m, an ‘overspend’ of near 2,000% which must have been the envy of British Aerospace….
The management of Southern Health were apparently so thoroughly in the thrall of their NLP Svengali, that apart from one Governor, John Green, it didn’t seem odd that so much money was going out the door to this hypnotist/ shaman/psycho-religious company.
“I was fobbed off,” Mr Green said.
“I didn’t get any information for well over a year. I believe the spending of public money in the NHS is nothing as accountable to the public as it should be.”
We had nearly forgotten, had we not – Southern Health was supposed to be looking after the mental health of its patients – not the staff.
There is no evidence that any staff were suffering from near sightedness, common colds, or learning disorders – but some of the patients were incontrovertibly suffering.
1,259 of them had died. That of Connor Sparrowhawk, who died of an epileptic seizure whilst in a bath, sparked an inquiry.
An inquiry which the CQC reported was ‘a failure of leadership and governance at the trust’. Katrina Percy, the only chief executive the trust has ever had, has faced widespread calls to resign but has refused to do so.
Instead, the Trust have created a new job for her. They have appointed her as a consultant to 20 – twenty! – GPs in the area. A job which neither existed two minutes ago, nor has been advertised. She will take her Â£500,000 pension pot with her, and keep her Â£240,000 salary.
Sir Nicholas Soames has said:
âIt seems extraordinary that this astonishing person believes that she can stay on and laugh in the face of the public by being paid this sum.’
What seems extraordinary to me is that you have in place a whole raft of management that has been programmed to within an inch of their lives – ‘to believe, to really believe’….incredibly they have hired Alastair Campbell’s firm, Portland Communications, to help them with their current public relations disasters…
This is oneÂ outcome. The other outcome will be that every other CEO of a Health Trust will be double checking their rates of pay – if advising 20 GPs is worth that much, then how much is being CEO of a health service worth? As will every other lower management figure charged with advising a small group of GPs…if she is worth that, then ‘so am I’.
The advisory role was created at the request of Ms Percy and was approved by the trustâs interim chairman, Tim Smart, and the executive board. An individual involved in her appointment claimed that Ms Percy had ârefused to step down without a fightâ and demanded the position be created in exchange for giving up her role as chief executive.
NHS Improvement, which is the only body with any authority to speak out about this has said that it supports the creation of Ms Percyâs new role as the âbest value for moneyâ solution.
No word as to whether the Mssrs Martin and Gray are still being paid to ‘psyche’ the staff out of thinking they might have a common cold…
Never mind a badger cull – we could do with a cull in the NHS.