Power to (some of) the people (from the people)
Democratic Audit publish a post today about “public engagement” in the NHS, saying:
The political consensus seems more settled than ever before on the idea that the more contributions the public make to services themselves, the better. Semantically at least there is very little to distinguish Ed Miliband’s commitment to “people powered public services”, from David Cameron’s “giving people the power to shape and design the public services they use” or Nick Clegg’s desire for “a more plural, diverse and personalised way of running our public services.”
Democratic Audit 3 June 2014: Patient power could be the driving force behind a revolution in the NHS
I am very doubtful about this new manifestation of “people power” – it is a slogan at best, a recipe for distortion at worst.
I have views about the NHS – from seeing my father die “in its tender care” a few years ago and now seeing the same happening to my mother.
I am too busy living and caring for my relatives to “get involved” in “health policy and strategy”so my voice will not be heard. My parents were/are too ill (or dead) to be able to be bothered. I have also learnt the hard way that you do not complain or even make suggestions about “service improvement” or seek to “involve patients in improvements to their own care” – unless you are prepared to be patronised and frozen out of involvement in your relative’s care.
So who will be this “public voice”? Why “stakeholders”, the chatterati and the small town burghers who think they can speak for all of us – but often only speak for their self-selected selves.
It will mean that he who shouts loudest will be the one who is heard. If only we had people who could represent us:
– in Parliament and hold the Department of Health to account
– in councils and hold public health and wellbeing boards to account.
Is the representative model broken beyond redemption such that we have to individually descend to a frantic scramble for “share of voice”?