Thursday, 20 December 2012

Cure before prevention - I think not!

Imagine that somebody has a nasty fall in a factory and is taken to hospital. You would take it for granted that a diagnosis – she has broken her leg – would be made but wouldn’t you also expect some form of investigation to take place in the factory to find out why the accident happened? If the factory owner said that the important thing was to look forward rather than back I suspect most people would be fairly outraged. Without some attempt being made to discover the cause what is to prevent the same thing happening again and again?  How many people would need to break their leg before something got done?

I was a fairly high-powered meeting this week where this common sense principle was roundly ignored by most of the participants. Looking backward was clearly seen as dangerous because looking at the causes of a problem might mean apportioning blame – perhaps even to people present in the room. Far safer to concentrate of putting things right rather than spending time or resources on stopping things going wrong in the first place!
The adage that “prevention is better than cure” does have some validity but when it comes to people guarding their own backs all too often it seems expedient for senior staff to do the exact opposite. I think that the checks and balances that should exist in well run organisations didn’t operate as they should and it makes me wonder if both tax payers and local residents are being well served by an organisation that puts effect before cause and cure before prevention.

When the current crisis has reached a conclusion this is an issue I intend to raise with all those concerned.

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