Prioritising OH resources

From Christmas fare to fair allocation of resources, make your choice carefully.

At this time of year we think carefully about how to sauce. Should we look for an external provider or should we invest in something homemade? But it is not as simple as that. Some consumers feel that the traditional turkey is not for them. They have a gander at something different and sauce it accordingly.

Satisfying the most sophisticated consumers can mean that sauce has to be found in the market. For others there is no match for something sauced by themselves. Occasionally, a mixed solution is preferred with bread invested in internal and external sauces.

Saucing badly can leave a bad taste. This creates an appetite for an alternative sauce but it is often easier and more effective to improve the established sauce. Changing sauces should be done with the utmost care – there is a real risk that the finest traditions are lost forever.

Most will have a limited budget and will sauce accordingly. Unless there is an extremely large number of consumers, saucing internally is not likely to offer sufficient variety to suit all tastes. However, when something homemade is cost-effective there is not likely to be an external sauce to match it.

In the debate about sauces it is easy to lose sight of what really matters. The sauce is not the meat of the service. Saucing well doesn’t guarantee that consumers will get the experience they want – but saucing badly guarantees that they won’t.

Do you feel you’d be more effective if you were sauced differently? If so, what have you done about this?

Do you think you’re more effective than colleagues whose work is sauced differently? If so, what have you done about this?

Here’s my recipe for saucing success:


  • Define the service by what it aims to achieve – align service and corporate goals. Specify a service in detail on volume of activity and speed of service and that is what you get, no more, no less. Such a service is inflexible, looks backwards, and will never deliver what you want.
  • Review clinical quality early in the saucing process – explore this in detail. Insist on named key clinicians who can be changed only by mutual agreement. Insist the named lead OH doctor and nurse deliver any presentations and attend any meetings. The service is delivered by clinicians not by business managers, sales executives, and marketers.
  • Seek corroboration of claims from the provider – those that proclaim outstanding improvements in attendance, for example, will rarely be telling the whole story. Any provider that had really cracked this would have long since struck gold.
  • Seek detailed references – those offered will be from valued partners so ask what they really value and why. Go further and ask which agreements were not renewed and investigate why.
  • Get expert (OH) input to the assessment – non-expert tweaking of the old specification will just mean the same old service is procured. It will be broadly the same but increasingly outdated and is likely to be more disappointing.

It is not difficult to sauce successfully but it is easy to sauce badly. Unfortunately, most consumers don’t have any sauce at all. They deserve much better than this. Even if we disagree about the best sauce for our own consumers we should have no hesitation and lobby a great deal harder to make sure all consumers get access to a suitable sauce. Achieving that really would be something to celebrate.

Dr Richard Preece is a consultant occupational physician.

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