To ensure that smaller minorities were not offended, NHS staff were forced to fill out a 7 page form that also included a suicide risk and human rights assessment. In an illustration of the politically correct bureaucracy strangling the health service, staff had to consider the possible human rights implications of shifting the office equipment.
The form examined what the possible repercussions would be for the smaller minorities which included:
- Homeless people
- Asylum seekers
- Transgender people
It also assessed whether the move would create possible suicides. This comes at a time of increasing turmoil in the NHS with some patients being refused life-saving drugs while others have to wait up to 24 hours in hospital A&E departments.
Scottish Tory MSP Alex Johnstone said: “Ludicrous doesn’t even begin to sum up this incident. This level of waste and madness would never be tolerated in the private sector. At a time when the NHS is supposed to be responsible with budgets, this is hardly a shining example of efficiency.” The human rights forms came to light during a review of a proposal to site two printers instead of three on two floors at the Glasgow offices of quango NHS Health Scotland. It made note of 17 different ‘populace groups’ which also included the disabled, and asked how they could be “affected differentially by the policy of moving the printer”. People involved in the criminal justice system also featured in the bizarre audit.
Some of the other human rights issues explored included the right to a family life and to freedom of expression. An examination of the right to life under the European Convention on Human rights even asked if moving the printer could lead to suicide. Unsurprisingly, the Health Inequalities Impact Assessment concluded that in these cases there were no negative consequences. However, the review, undertaken by two members of staff, noted that there would be a “general impact on all staff of making more queuing likely for the printer”, but there could be a positive social impact as “the people who do printing are more likely to meet and chat at the printers which do exist”.
Furthermore, members of staff with mobility issues could ask “teammates” for assistance if necessary.
NHS Health Scotland describes itself as a ‘national Health Board working with public, private and third sectors to reduce health inequalities and improve health’.
Staff were made to fill out the forms in order to understand the possible human rights implications of moving the office printers. NHS Health Scotland said it was “committed to being a great place to work”. Health campaigner Dr Jean Turner said: “It sounds a little bit like bureaucracy taking over reason”. It was said that anyone that works in an office really just wants a printer that does the job.”
A spokesman for campaign group TaxpayerScotland commented: “This is a ludicrous example of out-of-control bureaucracy. This assessment was written by a taxpayer-funded civil servant who surely must have something more useful to do.” NHS Health Scotland said it was “committed to being a great place to work” which aims “to ensure all staff are treated fairly and consistently and with dignity and respect.”