What makes you get up and come to work each day? Is it the challenge of the job? The working conditions? Recent Department of Health research suggests 10 usual suspects as answers, including 'having the skills and equipment needed to do my job', 'being treated with respect, trusted and listened to' and having 'a manager who helps me'.

Frankly, I wonder why this research was carried out. First, there is nothing in it we haven't heard before - many times over. Second, has that excellent initiative Improving Working Lives - which set out a model of good human resources practice - already been forgotten?

It is annoying that those who decided to commission the research appear to have assumed it was not worth finding out about the effects of that policy (that is, whether it worked).

The other part of the DH research asks what is important to patients in the NHS and, again, the findings contain no surprises. But isn't this what primary care trusts and foundation trusts are meant to be finding out as part of their epidemiological, commissioning or marketing strategies?

Sir Gerry Robinson's TV programme about Rotherham foundation trust one year on from his troubleshooting visit discussed the staggering amount of waste in the service. Many people feel that duplication, reinvention and conflicting policy announcements are perhaps the greatest way that the NHS wastes time, money and effort.

Many managers fully appreciate the need to implement required change. Yet there have now been so many examples of ideas or changes implemented in the NHS without any real attempt to establish a proper business case. What makes people in the service incredulous is being asked to quantify and justify the benefits of national policies that have already been implemented. This is when real waste begins. Endless performance reports and justifications sap huge amounts of management time as those elusive "benefits" are sought.

Let's be clear, this is not just a case of justification to one external body. Many bodies assess pretty much the same thing. Whether it is local and regional auditors, the Health and Safety Executive, NHS Litigation Authority, Healthcare Commission, Monitor, strategic health authorities, Audit Commission, royal colleges, deaneries or the health overview and scrutiny committee - on the ground it all amounts to saying the same thing.

On the workforce side, we have seen our fair share of untested initiatives where we are now being asked to waste lots of time explaining the benefits. These include the electronic staff record and most infamously the pay reform that has engulfed those involved in managing people for nearly a decade.

So next time we hear Sir Gerry talking about waste, let's remember the macro as well as the micro. The icing on the cake of the recent DH research is the reference to "action required" as a result of this addition to the field of human managerial knowledge. In a single word of masterful understatement, the "action and other relevant issues" are set out as "N/A".