Flogging a dead Horse

Out of the Ordinary

Deborah Glover, MBE, BSc (Joint Hons), Post-Grad Dip CPM, RN is Editor of Primary Care Nursing Review and a Freelance Medical Editor

The tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians, passed down from generation to generation, says that when you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

In the NHS, however, a whole range of far more advanced strategies is often employed, such as:

  1. Change riders
  2. Buy a stronger whip
  3. Do nothing: “This is the way we have always ridden dead horses”
  4. Visit other countries to see how they ride dead horses
  5. Perform a productivity study to see if lighter riders improve the dead horse’s performance
  6. Hire a contractor to ride the dead horse
  7. Harness several dead horses together in an attempt to increase the speed
  8. Provide additional funding and/or training to increase the dead horse’s performance
  9. Appoint a committee to study the horse and assess how dead it actually is
  10. Re-classify the dead horse as “living-impaired”
  11. Develop a Strategic Plan for the management of dead horses
  12. Rewrite the expected performance requirements for all horses
  13. Modify existing standards to include dead horses
  14. Declare that, as the dead horse does not have to be fed, it is less  costly, carries lower overheads, and therefore contributes substantially  more to the bottom line than many other horses
  15. Promote the dead horse to a supervisory position