« | Home | »

Read Their Lips


Perhaps David Cameron was worried about the dissonance between his pre-election pledge to put an end to top-down reorganisations of the NHS and the post-election labelling of his government’s proposed changes as the biggest reorganisation that the service has ever seen. Perhaps Nick Clegg was unhappy that two months after the key Lib Dem health policy – elected representatives on Primary Care Trusts – was written into the coalition agreement, he was being asked to support the abolition of the PCTs. Who knows, but they must have been pretty unhappy with the politics of NHS reform to have ordered a pause in the progress of the bill to allow for a ‘listening exercise’.

There was some initial scepticism. At the PR launch last month, Andrew Lansley seemed to be apologising only for the public’s failure to recognise the wisdom of his proposals. Clegg and Cameron gave the impression that the exercise was about persuading people of the merits of the changes, not about opening them up for revision. Besides, planning for the future is what managers do and PCTs have been planning their future non-existence since July last year: as a leaked email from the NHS chief executive makes clear, there is much in the White Paper that will now have to happen.

Still, the listening exercise is going ahead. There is a website. You can join the conversation. Except that it isn’t a conversation so much as a series of outrageously leading questions.

How can we best ensure that competition and patient choice drives NHS improvement?
Which are the types of services where choice of provider is most likely to improve quality?
What is the best way to ensure a level playing field between the different kinds of provider who could be involved?
What else can be done to make patient choice a reality?

A few hundred people have taken the trouble to respond.

But there’s more to the listening exercise than a website. Paul Burstow, the care services minister, announced last month that 119 listening events had been planned. 119? Impressive. It would be nice to see a list. Apparently if you ask for the list you are told to contact NHS Future Forum. But it turns out that NHS Future Forum does not take incoming calls. Not, it would seem, that kind of listening exercise.

Comments on “Read Their Lips”

  1. echothx says:

    From Richardblogger: http://torylies.blogspot.com/2011/05/phantom-listening-events.html

    John Healey asks for a written reply to the following questions:

    101 To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to the oral Answer to the right hon. Member for Bermondsey and Old Southwark of 26 April 2011, Official Report, columns 3-4, on NHS reform, how many of the 119 events organised centrally had been organised prior to the announcement of the NHS Future Forum. (54868)

    102 To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to the oral Answer to the right hon. Member for Bermondsey and Old Southwark of 26 April 2011, Official Report, columns 3-4, on NHS reform, what the (a) date, (b) location and (c) attendance list was of each of the 119 events. (54869)

    Most close observers do not believe there is any listening going on at all.
    My previous experience of a consultation of choice and competition made it clear to me (a GP) that professional and/ or public opinion is not a concern: http://abetternhs.wordpress.com/2011/01/08/dh-consultation-on-greater-choice-and-control-a-sham/

Comment on this post

Log in or register to post a comment.

  • Recent Posts

    RSS – posts

  • Contributors

  • Recent Comments

    • name on Who is the enemy?: Simply stating it is correct doesn't make it so, I just wish you would apply the same epistemic vigilance to "Muslim crimes" as you do to their Hebrew...
    • Glen Newey on Unwinnable War: The legal issue admits of far less clarity than the simple terms in which you – I imagine quite sincerely – frame them. For the benefit of readers...
    • Geoff Roberts on The New Normal: The causes go back a long way into the colonial past, but the more immediate causes stem from the activities of the US forces in the name of freedom a...
    • sol_adelman on The New Normal: There's also the fact that the French state denied the mass drownings of '61 even happened for forty-odd years. No episode in post-war W European hist...
    • funky gibbon on At Wembley: If England get France in the quarter finals of Euro 16 I expect that a good deal of the fraternity will go out the window

    RSS – comments

  • Contact

  • Blog Archive

  • From the LRB Archive

    Edward Said: The Iraq War
    17 April 2003

    ‘This is the most reckless war in modern times. It is all about imperial arrogance unschooled in worldliness, unfettered either by competence or experience, undeterred by history or human complexity, unrepentant in its violence and the cruelty of its technology.’

    David Runciman:
    The Politics of Good Intentions
    8 May 2003

    ‘One of the things that unites all critics of Blair’s war in Iraq, whether from the Left or the Right, is that they are sick of the sound of Blair trumpeting the purity of his purpose, when what matters is the consequences of his actions.’

    Simon Wren-Lewis: The Austerity Con
    19 February 2015

    ‘How did a policy that makes so little sense to economists come to be seen by so many people as inevitable?’

    Hugh Roberts: The Hijackers
    16 July 2015

    ‘American intelligence saw Islamic State coming and was not only relaxed about the prospect but, it appears, positively interested in it.’

Advertisement Advertisement