Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Opinion seller?

The sham of Labour's consultation exercises as regards the recent NHS review have been much talked about of late, and Dr Ray has been keeping a pretty keen eye on events. The ferret has been in touch with the lovely DoH about how exactly this consultation has been engineered with some interesting results:

Ferret: How have lay members of the public been chosen for events? DoH: Each deliberative event was attended by a regionally representative sample of members of the public (demographic data was taken from census data), with specific quotas set on health status (including use of certain services in the past two years). This ensured that there was a broad mix of members of the public, many of whom had used services and were in a position to give views based on their own experience of healthcare provision.

So the group of hand picked citizens are representative, but the question is neatly ignored, how are they selected though?

Ferret: Who has received invitations to these events?
DoH: Participants were recruited locally, to ensure a wide representation of the public. Members of NHS staff were nominated to attend by their Strategic Health Authorities.

Ferret: Where have the consultation events been advertised?

DoH: The events on 18 September were not advertised.
This is very suspicious, the NHS staff members were nominated by the SHA and the event was not advertised.

Ferret: Did the DOH/ministers/others discuss how to select people who would attend such events?
DoH: Officials at the Department of Health held discussions with the external contractor to ensure that a wide spectrum of people would be represented.

Ferret: If so, I would like to see records of these discussions.

DoH: There are no records of these discussions.

This is also suspicious, the DoH has no records of these important discussions which would reveal exactly how the external contractor was briefed to select the members of the citizens' juries.

There are several worrying issues here. The future of the NHS is being decided by this consultation process, a process which is not open for anyone to attend and which is not advertised. More worrying the government is paying a private firm to run this consultation and then not keeping records of how this firm was briefed to go about its job of selecting members of the public. Their is a funny smell here, and it is not one of democracy.

1 comment:

Dr Ray said...

Well done Garth.
My colleague who attended said there were quite a few students present- it doesn't seem likely that they are typical users of medical care.
The external contractor would be Opinion Leader Research motto: "making the client look like he gives a shit"