Is it true that the government is having second thoughts about the traffic light system ?

I do not know if I am coming or going.

Traffic Warden, Aintree

The problem is that traffic lights are just too simple for most people to cope with. If they do not get multi-stage processes with attainment targets and variable performance payments, 100-page plans of action and a new set of acronyms, they get confused. So the traffic light system might change to make it easier to understand.

The new system will be called 'The rainbow collation' and, basically, there will be seven stages graded red, orange, yellow, etc, through to violet. As you move from one to the other there will be interim stages called infrared, canary yellow and so on. If you get it wrong then black is introduced. New handbooks in the appropriate colour will be published and sent to every trust with simple stage by stage instructions like 'get rid of waiting lists', 'make everybody better'. Once You have sorted everything out, you get the opportunity to work for BUPA.

Who says there are no incentives in the public sector!

I want to make my trust a better place to work. Can you suggest any family-friendly, flexible extras for my staff that will not cost anything ?

Family Man, Bath

Well, this is the big question. First is the problem of childcare. How can you get people to work strange shifts when they've got to look after the kids? To solve this one, supply all your female workers with free condoms, well those below a certain age anyway. It needn't cost anything - just nip round to your local college of further education and there'll be binloads of them in the student union. The next issue is flexibility. You can allow your staff to work any shift they like, give them a choice of earlies, lates or nights and, to be really flexible, just rotate them round so everyone gets a turn at the best ones. A new approach to retirement is also a good idea. Let your staff take their well-earned rest any time between the ages of 65 and 85. Even better, kill two birds with one stone and let them retire at 20 and come back at about 45ish, then you'll have them for years with no distractions. For male staff, I suggest you promote them slightly quicker than women to keep them interested in getting on and introduce a 'resident on call' system five nights a week - if you keep them at work, they can't be at home producing more staffing problems.