Rule bound – progress limiting

Last year I needed to obtain a lasting power of attorney on behalf of an ageing relative.

The online process on the government website for creating the appropriate documentation could only be described as excellent.  It led me through the various steps, helping me select the options appropriate to the relative’s situation and telling me who should sign and witness the power of attorney. Straight forward.  Easy.  I printed out the forms and soon had all my tasks completed.

What happened next can only be described as awkward and frustrating.

A rapid change in circumstances determined that the Power of Attorney became active immediately.

Enter stage right: rigid progress defeating procedures.

The correctly completed documents sat in the Office of the Public Guardian for 5 weeks: no acknowledgment, no progress: zip all.  Oops, sorry my mistake; someone had stamped it with the date of receipt.

I phoned to investigate.  I was told there was a back log and the case would be worked the following week. So when will I receive the sanctioned copies I asked.  It takes 20 days from when we start working it, was the response.  From the way the form had been completed I knew there was no one to be contacted or notified. I explained this.  You still have to wait 20 days from when we start working it.  It’s the rules I was told.  But you’ve had it 25 days already, it says that on the file, you date stamped it, remember. No, rules are rules, that’s it.

What do we conclude?

Ineffective, inflexible procedures had been created, adding unnecessary delays. These definitely didn’t meet the customer’s purpose.  There was no benefit to the delay except possibly to protect the Office of the Public Guardian (Is it out-sourced I wonder?).  So the process was designed to meet their purpose. I suspect it’s likely to speed up the case would have distorted a service level agreement. It would be a fair bet no one reports on the backlog but only on the percentage of cases worked within 20 days of the start of their process.

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