He'll cut a forlorn figure on railway stations and cab ranks, up and down the country, touring conferences, workshops and chit-chats to find out what you already know.
It's interesting, isn't it? Ask a politician to get rid of bureaucracy and they'll invent a bureaucracy to do it. A report... urgent... ready by the Spring... then a consultation... then an implementation strategy... then implementation... then review... then we all hold hands and jump off a tall building. When you are doing something that doesn't work wouldn't it be a good idea to do something else?
The NHS is riddled with bureaucracy; none of it invented at the front-line. All of it has been dumped on the NHS by people who think they have a right to know... need to know, must know. Who knows?
I met Janet, a nursing Sister. Forty-ish, sensible, safe hands, kids grown-up and gone, divorced, loves her work. Here's what she said to me;
"Form filling! Since Cameron decided every patient has to be spoken to every hour (like we don't) the managers have gone barmy. I'm usually responsible for eight patients in a bay. I have to tick and sign a box that I have spoken to each one of them every hour. That's 64 ticks I MUST sign for. Managers are terrified that the CQC will turn up and want us to prove we're doing it. I work six days a week, so I tick nearly 400 boxes a week. There are four other bays on the ward; that's almost 1,600 ticks a week. There's no computer; it's all on paper. By the end of the year we'll have clocked up over 80,000 ticks and destroyed a forest. If there is a cardiac arrest on the ward, or a medical emergency, the boxes get ticked at the end of the shift. I'm, sick of it....."
I wonder if Mike Farrar will tell Mary Poppins in Number 10 to stick his tick boxes. Spit-Spot, I doubt it! The Confed needs friends at the DH.
What about a gun-shot wound arriving in A&E? Have you seen what is required? It is pages and forensic because it might be used in evidence at a Court hearing. With data we might avoid another Mid-Staffs; hence the CMO looking at 14 other places.
We need data, information and statistics. Business sees it as life blood. If you have a supermarket loyalty card they'll know where you live, what you buy, how often and even which isles you walk down. They'll know what day you shop and how much you spend, the offers you like and booze you drink. What they don't have is a shop assistant following you around the store with a clip-board, ticking boxes.
Business knows the value of information and they invest to collect it. I very much doubt Farrar and friends will find one scrap of data that is presently collected that the NHS couldn't turn to good use for planning or patient satisfaction purposes, neither the info that helps to make the NHS safer. Data Tsar Tim Kelsey knows the benefits and will want more, not less.
It is not the data; it is the way it is collected. We can write the Confed report now; 'Data collected in the NHS is vital for the safe treatment of patients, planning, coordination of care, integration, costing and quality. Duplication makes the system overly bureaucratic but the real burden is as the result of the under investment in the technology to record and analyse it'.
The answer has been around since 1949 invented by Woodland and Silver; it's called a bar-code. Spit-Spot Mike, job done.