Suddenly, sometime in the 1990s, NHS managers began talking about HR. What was that? Human resources. What are Human resources? They meant the people we knew at the time as ‘personnel’. So the people seeing patients on the front line had become widgets in a corporate machine.
Put like that, it sounds Stalinist. And it is. On one shift in 1935 Alexei Stakhanov, a Soviet miner, extracted over 100 tonnes of coal. The average worker managed 7 tonnes. If one miner could do it, surely they could all increase their production and so help the USSR catch up with the West.
Stakhanov rapidly became a Soviet hero and role model throughout Soviet industry. And beyond. Stakhanovism caught on in the West, and Stakhanov made the cover of Time magazine.