One of the faults in the police response to the London riots, pointed out by the newspapers today, has been the lack of initiative by sergeants and inspectors on the ground; they have found it safer to wait for instructions from Commanders and Superintendents at the back.
This is a problem in many walks of life including health care and education. One of the reasons that I was so excited by the football match on Sunday was the fact that Manchester United, being 2-0 behind at half time, threw on their young men as substitutes so that the average age of the players on their side for most of the second half was only 22. They played with flair and a lack of fear. Especially pleasing was the role of Tom Cleverly.
In the UK it is not usual for young people to go to College and University on Sports Scholarships. Academic prowess of high quality is still needed for 'proper' Universities. Although he has been known to Manchester United for several years, Tom would not commit to being a footballer, instead, opting to continue his education and take up a University place. It is a fact that in the days when Liverpool were the top British team, they had two University graduates, Steve Heighway and Brian Hall in their first team. It seems to me that the best teams at most sports don't just possess a David Beckham or Wayne Rooney with an educated right foot, but also someone with an educated brain.
In Medicine we have been stultified by protocols and control by the multi-disciplinary team. No-one can take a decision unless it is rubber stamped by 'higher' authority and no-one can try anything new because it isn't in the protocol. I can remember the thrill of making my own decisions. One a protocol driven radiotherapist accused me of being a 'cowboy oncologist'. I replied by naming my next regimen for bladder cancer, 'Blazing Saddles'.
Over the years my innovations included monoclonal antibody therapy and peripheral blood derived stem cell transplants as well as DNA vaccines and the use of IGHV gene mutations for prognostic testing. Not bad for a maverick.