The Tipping Point

Most of us can paint a wall, put a shelf up, perhaps even do some basic electrical or building work. Eventually though, however great your DIY skills are, you come to a ‘tipping point’; this is the point where although you can understand what needs to be done and even feel you might like to try your hand at it, you acknowledge that someone who has both the specific skills for the task, allied with years of experience actually doing it, is going to do a better job than you.

 For most DIY’ers, a common tipping point is plastering. After all, we can all get the stuff on the walls but will it be smooth, completed to high standards and without any parts that need doing again? Probably not. Sometimes, it’s wiser to acknowledge that getting an experienced hand in will save you time and undue stress even though it costs money.

There’s a seemingly endless pressure upon Trusts to save money. It’s crunch, crunch, crunch; save more, spend less; fewer staff; higher expectations; KPI’s; multitasking; just plain old MORE from plain old LESS and, by the way, please make sure you save money while doing it. One wonders where modern economists are trained. Certainly not at the sharp end.

PAM (The NHS Premises Assurance Model) is a tipping point for many Trusts. It’s one of those things where the inclination is to think ‘we have everything we need, it’s merely a question of collation and completion.’ It seems the perfect DIY job. However, as many Trusts have discovered the costs of training and incentivising staff can quickly rise.

In an article in the Jan/Feb edition of Hefma Pulse one Trust described creating statutory working groups (plural) to cover key areas of responsibility in completing the PAM audit. Staff were paid a ‘responsibility allowance’ of £1,500 to undertake validation qualification across core areas required for PAM and then a further £1,500 once it was proved they could carry out the role effectively. That’s £3,000 per member of staff to fill out their area of the PAM audit.

The article doesn’t say how many staff were required to complete this task but let’s assume a low figure, such as 3-4 members. That’s £9,000-12,000 overall. If you factor in the time and resources involved for training and facilitating these working groups, then the price escalates even more. Even at a modest rate, you’re looking at a figure around the £15,000 mark. That’s an expensive DIY project and doesn’t even address the fact that you are taking those staff away from their normal roles and adding the stress of new responsibilities.

Now you can argue that you pay staff more to get more from them and you don’t have to pay an external partner, which makes the above scenario look like a win-win for all involved – but not if you’re looking to save costs.

It seems counter-intuitive to suggest that you can save costs by spending money but that’s exactly what I’m going to do. At GK Transformation offer a three-tier service for PAM completion (Bronze, Silver and Gold). The Bronze service, at £5,000, is a third of the costs above.

Our average cost on a complete PAM audit is only £9,600. Which means a PAM audit carried out by an external partner is immediately less expensive than doing it in-house.

If you go on to deduct costs saved by not having to train your own staff, set up procedures to complete PAM yourself while pulling staff away from their existing responsibilities, you can see that in real terms you save even more money.

Perhaps more importantly, you don’t create additional stress to staff members who, though remunerated, often feel under increasing pressure to agree to do more with less time, time they already devote to their existing responsibilities. Which is fine if you feel your staff are underemployed - but is that really the case?

As you can see from the above comparisons the cost of retraining and paying your own staff to carry out a PAM audit are higher than if you hired a specialist.

Of course, you’re thinking, ‘he’s trying to sell me something.’

You’re right, I am.

I’m selling you the cost savings you’re under constant pressure to make.

Just don’t ask me to plaster your walls.