what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

consultant waste, claustrophobia in China


Today’s Guardian carries a story that the UK Health Service spent 300 million pounds last year on management consultants – equal to the cost of 10,000 nurses.
In London alone managers shelled out more than £114m last year on management consultants – almost double what they had spent two years previously and £30m more than the money spent on breast cancer services in the capital. Costs were inflated, say critics, by the consultants' salaries, which were reportedly as much as £1,000 a day. Experts have questioned whether the government gets "any value at all" from the private sector. Last year a report by McKinsey & Company proposed sacking 10% of NHS staff – some 137,000 people – to help achieve planned £20bn efficiency savings in the health service, and warned that GP time "lost to tea breaks" should be reduced as part of a scheme to improve "GP productivity" to the tune of £400m
Two or three books have been written about the incredible sums of money the New Labour government spent on management consultants.

I mentioned yesterday that I had come across some great new (development) blogs but gave the address of only one (Owen)whose CV is one of the most interesting I’ve come across in recent years – on secondment in Africa from the UK International Development Department – with a strong academic bent and keenness to share his reading.
One of the leading figures in the academic development world is Simon Maxwell of the UK’s Overseas development Institute and his website contains not only a blog but copies of his extensive publications. It was from this that I learned of the recent EU Reflections report which is worth a look.
The third very useful blog I came across was that of Chris Blattman - an American academic

I have not so far mentioned that one of the things which really fazed me when I arrived in Beijing at the beginning of this year is that I could not access either my website or blog. I should not have been surprised since the tiff with Google was at its height. But it was one of two factors which made me feel, for the first time in my life, really claustrophobic The other factor was the approaching Chinese New Year – and the daily news on local TV of the congestion on trains and planes as 150 million plus people went home or (the richer ones) on vacation to Europe. I wanted out of this place – and knew that it would not be easy!
But the blocking of Google Scholar and most blogs (including my own) really did make me feel that I was in a prison. The world suddenly shrunk and I was trapped with huge buildings towering around me. I was denied, for example, the essays of Daniel Bell about aspects of China; and would not have been able to discover, as I did yesterday, a 250 page PhD thesis about policy implementation in China

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