Consultations – why bother to ask?

Posted on June 7th, by geoff in Caring Times head, CT blog. 2 comments

By guest blogger Bob Ferguson

Care home owners are regularly asked what they think of the latest policy ideas germinated in the Department of Health (DH) or CQC. Far from galvanising them to get involved – even when their world could be turned upside down – consultations tend to be about as welcome as a cold sore.

In recent months, the flow of these projects has swollen into a torrent, some carried out aimlessly, like chapters of a book bound out of sequence, and equally bewildering. For example, the DH consultation on fundamental standards was published ahead of CQC guidance, giving it the effect of a foreign-language film without sub-titles.

The confusion was deepened by the fact that the document itself had underlined the difficulty of understanding either in isolation from the other. Continuing the willy-nilly approach, regulators defied logic by inviting views on the make-up of quality ratings before they had explained what the primary point of reference, the baseline of regulatory compliance, would look like.

Their preparation had included a series of get-togethers with interested parties, cannily hailed as “co-production” events. Health warning! Anyone who is seduced by that into believing it means external participants had equal status in deciding the final outcome should seek medical help immediately.

Now Whitehall has released a consultation portfolio of nearly 800 pages – yes, EIGHT HUNDRED. In an act of supreme indifference, ten weeks have been allotted for responses to the entire pack (the norm for one consultation is twelve weeks), a colossal ask for small providers, and their organisations – those that are interested, that is.

These bureaucrats have one overriding objective: getting the job done within an arbitrary time frame – and they don’t much care how they achieve it. Doing it properly is a secondary consideration. They are just going through the motions. Consultation? Tick. Deadline met? Tick. No wonder consultations are such a turn-off.

– The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.

2 responses to “Consultations – why bother to ask?”

  1. John Burton says:

    Having spent many hours reading and commenting on these interminable consultation documents, knowing that it’s not going to make the slightest difference or even get an acknowledgement let alone a response, I’ve given up.

    It’s just another way of sapping the energy of critics! Much more effective to dump a trailer load of muck on the steps of Finsbury Towers (CQC HQ), the way the French farmers would!

    • Bob Ferguson says:

      As someone who has spent the thick end of 20 years trying to persuade various forms of the powers-that-be of the error of their ways, I can recognise the frustration. However, it isn’t strictly accurate to say that responses don’t make a difference. From time to time, they do – sometimes in rather nuanced ways and often not as much as one would wish.

      Self-evidently, nothing will ever change if we all give up on consultations. Keeping schtum isn’t an option, especially for those who purport to represent others.

      By all means dump a load of merde on the relevant doorstep, but be sure to leave a note of explanation with it.

Latest blog posts

Dropping your bundle

By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON

Last week I was approached by a law firm who wanted to submit an article on assisted dying, in the...

The NHS and all that jazz

By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON

Last week the National Health Service marked its 70th anniversary. The irony is that, when this all too human institution...

The bland leaving the bland?

By guest blogger JEF SMITH

The headline for an interview which Sir David Behan, the Care Quality Commission’s departing chief executive, gave to The Guardian...