Monday, 5 May 2008

Reviewing reviews

While the public were out voting on Thursday and giving the Government a pounding at the ballot box for the abolition of the 10p tax rate, Ivan Lewis (Minister for Health) published a list of 7 Common Core Principles to Support Self Care. Apparently “The principles aim to help health and social care services enable people to have better control over and responsibility for their own health and well-being, working in partnership with health and social care professionals. The Common Core Principles are intended to support self care in its broadest sense by helping staff across health and social care develop the skills needed to provide people with access to appropriate training, information and support networks. They are aimed at, but not limited to, staff supporting individuals living with a long term condition or with complex needs”.

The 7 principles are:
* Ensure individuals are able to make informed choices to manage their self care needs
* Communicate effectively to enable individuals to assess their needs, and develop and gain confidence to self care
* Support and enable individuals to access appropriate information to manage their self care needs
* Support and enable individuals to develop skills in self care
* Support and enable individuals to use technology to support self care
* Advise individuals how to access support networks and participate in the planning, development and evaluation of services
* Support and enable risk management and risk taking to maximise independence and choice

So, the Government spent all that time, holding a consultation and doing the White Paper and their final list is the above?! This is an example of the waste which occured regularly in all departments. Is it really the case that social care workers at present don’t take the interests of the patients as the core issue and dont communicate effectively with the patients to let them know what choices they have? Was this consultation really necessary? Reviews like the above just waste time and resources and distract those on the frontline from doing their jobs. The list could have been rustled up pretty quickly by anyone with common sense.

This is symptomatic of a bigger problem for the Government inherent in its core thinking. It tries to do everything for everyone and in doing so becomes a controlling State. The Government protests that it is an enabling or empowering one which acts to help the most disadvantaged and most needy, but the Government is very slow to trust professionals, thus these reviews and this governing by committee style which leads to very slow action. While Im not advocating a return to sofa Government, there are times for reviews and there are times for action. The above example is perhaps a minor one but it’s a case in point on this.

Of course Governments should listen to public reaction, which it gets through its support base in the Party and press commentary which plays a key role as opinion leaders, but the first role of a Government is to act on the basis of its key principles and policies as set out in their manifestos or other documents. This dithering and delays before taking even common sense decisions just damages the Government.

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