Alan Simpson: Setting a target that can’t be met – now that really is stupid

TARGETS are the bane of everyone’s life, particularly in a professional capacity.

They are almost never hit and when they are, very little praise is ever handed out, with the likelihood instead being the targets getting revised upwards for next time.

But politicians always leave themselves hostages to fortune when they set them in the first place. It just gives the opposition a free hit when they are inevitably missed.

Any target in the NHS is particularly dodgy, as performances of departments such as A&E are so fluid.

One month, the targets could be smashed out of the park before they are missed again due to events that are outwith anyone’s control – namely people’s health and their ability to have serious accidents.

Nobody can confidently predict the performances of hospitals on a daily basis, let alone in the longer term. Doctors are great at treating people but they are not soothsayers, any more than politicians are.

For the sake of everyone’s health these targets should be axed as they are completely pointless.

But this week, Nicola Sturgeon got herself in a real lather when she was quizzed about vaccination targets, which she herself had set.

Last month, the First Minister told the Scottish Parliament that all 40 to 49-year-olds would have received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine by July 26, which was on Monday.

Unfortunately, the target was missed, but rather than just stick her hands up and apologise, she went on a rather bizarre rant which called into question everyone’s intelligence apart from her own.

So clever is she, in fact, that she changed the target mid-rant and then inferred that everyone was a bit stupid for questioning this.

She said: “I kind of communicate at a level where I assume a certain level of intelligence on the part of people listening to me, because I think that’s justified. And I assume a certain ability to attach context and common sense to what I am saying.”

The First Minister tried to clarify that her statement had actually meant that all adults would be “offered” the vaccine, rather than having jags in arms.

How terribly stupid we must all be for thinking that an invite to get a jag is, in fact, a jag.

Now, I’m not a doctor, but even I know that an envelope and a letter have never once in the history of medicine cured anything or vaccinated against any infectious disease.

Ms Sturgeon has gained a reputation through the pandemic for her communication skills and it would be shame if she let that slip now by lashing out after being irritated by legitimate questions.

Donald Trump used that tactic often in the White House, and we know how that all turned out.

Belittling people’s intelligence for asking about a missed target is almost as stupid as setting the target in the first place.

The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992