So Circle a private company is to take over the management of a failing NHS Hospital. This is because private sector management is better? 

A lot of people will have seen the recent TV documentary Inside Gatwick about how an American company has taken over the airport and intends to make it more efficient and more profitable.

 The documentary provides plenty of examples of the new style management. I wonder if private sector management practices will feature in Circle’s NHS hospital. Will they adopt Gatwick’s feared “12 o’clock meetings”?

“Someone will get shouted at, you just hope it’s not you”, says one employee.

Cut to the 12 o’clock meeting. A small room is crowded with managers all standing up. There are no chairs because this will be a short meeting and senior managers don’t want people to be comfortable. In front of colleagues the senior manager picks who he thinks is to blame and demands to know what went wrong.

Next is a presentation on how the South Koreans have developed a management model that improves efficiency, accountability and profitability. This is explained via sixty slides!

Senior management are seen doing a walkabout and saying thing like ”we need a big clock in this hall”. All the signage is being changed, new colours, new logo, to reflect the new ownership. This is costing millions of pounds!

The head of marketing has been told that passengers aren’t spending enough money in the airport shops. His strategy is to go up market, more expensive shops. There is a sequence where the blokes who sell raffle tickets for Ferrari and Lamborghini sports cars are told they will in future also be selling tickets for designer handbags.

Following the sudden departure of the head of marketing an interim specialist has been drafted in. He introduces himself to the management group by telling them things will have to change, that there is no room for failure and then proceeds to details their failings to date. He informs the audience that the previous strategy for increasing sales was completely wrong, and the new strategy is to go mid market not high end.

Interestingly when the new head of marketing on walkabout asks a passenger what needs improving and what would make the airport experience better the passenger doesn’t immediately say more shops he actually says more comfortable seating and better seating areas.

Before anyone tells me that it is ridiculous to compare the running of a hospital with that of an airport I would point out that I agree but those in the private sector probably wouldn’t. Is it not too far a leap to imagine a marketing manager being appointed to increase income from shops in hospitals?

Do you think if is beyond belief that the new private sector management would want to introduce their logo and change the signage to the company’s colours? Would it be totally unexpected if the efficiency drive led to a restructuring? Is it conceivable that the pressure to deliver would be even greater leading to a climate of fear and blame? And would anyone be surprised at the sudden departure of senior managers and the drafting in interim managers.

How long before the main hospital concourse has a Ferrari on display with raffle tickets at £10 a go?