"Aghast at a target-led NHS, at great to human beings"

(as a volunteer/advocate),

I have worked in the public sector for over 30 years and am aghast at the target-led regime which has now totally permeated the NHS, education and social services, in my opinion at great cost to human beings.

The league tables and endless inspections have swept away any respect for or acknowledgement of the human qualities people bring to their work. I have stood back bewildered while wonderful colleagues and friends who have committed themselves to helping people over many years, whether pupils, patients or other service users, have been 'bullied'. The managers I have come into contact with have often mercilessly pursued their tick-box targets, often showing indifference to the actual quality of the work being achieved by the real people behind these targets.

Some colleagues have given up. "You just have to play the game, " they say. But I believe we cannot allow this to continue without an open debate. Those of us with years of experience should lead the way, rather than cowering. A social work colleague before she left (defeated by soulless statistics) knitted a scarf for every child she had been working with. This act of care would not be registered on any target sheet.

People of my age should be enjoying the satisfaction that comes with knowing you are doing your job well after many years of experience. Many are instead distraught and furious that their achievements are being reduced to whether targets have been met. Many younger people beginning their working lives have only ever known this target culture, so may not see that the workplace could be very different.

We need to speak out and work together to realign our work values so that quality of work is what is cherished and nurtured, not number-crunching.

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