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Regulation gone mad

Regulation gone mad

The Dutch organisation of mental health services (GGZ) recently launched a campaign against red tape entitled ‘Less Regulation Madness, More Care’. This slogan appeared in the news a number of times.

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Regulation gone mad

The Dutch organisation of mental health services (GGZ) recently launched a campaign against red tape entitled ‘Less Regulation Madness, More Care’. This slogan appeared in the news a number of times. According to GGZ, regulation in the healthcare sector has gone mad and as a result, healthcare professionals on average spend 33% of their time on administrative duties. This is because the Board of GGZ spends more and more money and time on drawing up reports, as a result of which paperwork is taking priority over caring for people.

Healthcare institution

In the past few months we conducted a culture review at a Dutch healthcare institution. This was prompted by dissatisfaction among staff members, which had existed for several years, a high and rising staff turnover rate, and small incidents increasingly occurring in one of the departments. When we started talking to staff members, it soon emerged that it was not clear to them what the vision and strategy of the organisation is, what their own tasks and responsibilities are, and within which frameworks they are working.

Policies and rules

To ensure that staff members demonstrate the right behaviour, it is important that as an organisation you draw up a clear mission, vision and strategy. This gives staff members clarity about what they are working towards. If there is no clarity about this, everyone can choose a different direction and get in each other’s way. It is therefore necessary to provide frameworks to achieve the desired mission, vision and strategy. Policies, rules and procedures are examples of this.

But an organisation can also go to the other extreme: Drawing up too many rules is counterproductive. Research in Israeli hospitals into the ratio between the number of rules and the number of incidents that occur has shown that the number of incidents decreases when rules are set. This research also shows that at a certain point an optimum is achieved, with a limited number of incidents occurring. If more rules are introduced beyond this optimum, the number of incidents increases again. This is a demonstrable example that it is good for organisation to set rules, but that the number of rules should not become excessive. If there are too many rules, the rules become an end in themselves and staff members are less likely to use their common sense.

Would you like to know what the optimum number of rules is for your organisation? Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions; we are happy to discuss them with you.

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