Sunday, September 23, 2007

£75 for a Consultation? That'll Do Nicely...

The word "consultation" means different things to different people. To me (and hopefully you) it would mean asking local people what they think of a particualr policy or plan. To New Labour it means something entirely different, as you are about to discover. It is rare that I quote an entire blogpost from another blog, but I think this one warrants it. It's from the Dr Ray's Focal Spot blog. In this post, Dr Ray, a hospital consultant describes the consultation process for the closure of a local District General Hospital. Perhaps I shouldn't be shocked by this, but I am...

Yesterday evening I had an insight into the workings of Nulabours "consultation" process on the planned closure of NHS District General Hospitals and replacement
with dumbed down polyclinics.A few weeks ago invitations to attend a public consultation were sent to consultants at our Trust. We were only given one day
to reply for the meeting in the near future even though we have to give 6 weeks
notice of leave because of "choose and book".Obviously this meant that most of us could not attend but one consultant did take up the invitation.The location of the meeting was kept secret until three days before the event and when this consultant was eventually told the location and turned up in Birmingham for the "Citizens Jury" it turned out that medical staff were outnumbered 2:1 by laypeople specifically chosen by an agency to attend the event. The media were present and had obviously been invited to publicise the event.

The delegates were split up into groups and each allocated an electronic voting device. A "minder" was allocated to each group.Then the stars of the show arrived: Gordon Brown, Alan Johnson and Ara Darzi.There followed a rapid succession of questions from the podium on which the delegates were asked to vote. The minder was available to suggest the best answer if there was any doubt.Strangely, almost all the votes were 2:1 in favour of Nulabour's policy. Even the question: "Would you prefer gynaecological surgery to be carried out in your GP practice even if it meant the closure of your DGH facility?" was answered with 2:1 in favour.Following the "consultation"the medical delegates were told to leave but the other 2/3 of the audience were kept back and each given an envelope.

My colleague was intrigued by this and managed to catch one of the "chosen ones" and ask about the contents. Each envelope contained £75 in cash! So now the consultation is over and the results indicate there is overwhelming public and doctor support for closing down the DGHs. I can only say that the way the voting was done makes the "Blue Peter" voting fraud seem like, well, "Blue Peter". According to the Downing Street website there are nine more of these "consultations" due around the county. Thats an awful lot of people to bribe with taxpayers money, but once they're done the business of closing the DGHs can start in earnest.


I'd like to think that this will be followed up by Her Majesty's Press.

47 comments:

Diablo said...

Well done.

Shades said...

It makes 50p from YouGov look a bit puny, this raises simultaneous patronising/ignoring to new levels. Mind you, the people who pay YouGov are probably interested in the answers rather than getting the "right" answer.

Anonymous said...

Brown really is a scumbag isn't he.

Anonymous said...

Oh yes. Joy of Joys. Fantastic. What a story.

Anonymous said...

Send for Yates

tapestry said...

Why don't the consultants write that simple report into an A5 b&w leaflet costing fractions of a penny each and leaflet their local areas?

Headline it - Save Our Hospital -

then three or four short bullet points

and tail line it with - You Cannot Trust Gordon Brown.

and the usual please write to your MP or join the fight to save.....

The media will always pull their punches exposing the truth about the governmet's lies. Your own leaflet can reach housands very fast, and gets a campaign up and runnng. UKL 75 pounds buys a few hundred leaflets.

Get down to Prontaprint or equivalent now.

Brown will change policy in a week if you do.

tapestry said...

If this is Birmingham, ask Marilyn, campaigns coordinator at The Assay Office for a template leaflet from her Save The Hallmark campaign to work from. Her campaign saved the British hallmark from Blair's attempts at abolition.

Printers will advise on layout. For UKL 1000 you could get a powerful campaign up and running, with posters and leaflets. Why not?

Anonymous said...

Such a pro-Tory piece though Iain, and written in such a brazenly anti-Labour way that I can't easily analyse the story. It's such a shame people can't write things like this in a less loaded way - it would ultimately help the cause more.

Mind you, pedant that I am, I find myself grimacing at his appalling use of the apostrophe (or lack of it). Radiologist is he? Dr Alan Statham would be suicidal at such use of English!

Barnacle Bill said...

Followed up by Inspector Yates would be a better outcome!
I know I should not be shocked, nor angered by this, but such blatant manipulation of the consultative process makes my blood boil.
Having got away with Cash 4 Peerages, Brown's involvement in this is still to be revealed, ZaNuLabor continue to act like Stalinist control freaks.
This must be shouted about from the rooftops till the MSM do begin to question ZaNuLabor about their actions.

Guido Fawkes Esq. said...

I think you'll find these are being organised by Opinion Leader Research (prop. Deborah Mattinson, Gordon's personal pollster).

Costing the taxpayer a few million, but neating allowing Deborah the opportunity to do some private polling (free) for Gordon.

AethelBald, King of Wessex said...

It sounds to me like the money could be standard for a focus group and that your blogger may not be aware of this. That said, the methodology does seem questionable.

Sonicdeathmonkey said...

I'm sad to say I'm not suprised by any of this..the whole 'Citizen jury' idea is there to rubberstamp ideas already decided on to provide a image of Gordo listening to the people. However the sheer stagemanagedness of it all is fairly awful.

the lunatics have taken over said...

Well done for exposing this scandal Iain.

This is a new low for democracy in this country.

Are Cameron and co going to make an issue of this or is such chicanery tolerated these days?

Anonymous said...

NuLabour have never been interested in any other view that conflicts with their own so why anybody should be surprised at these shenanigans is beyond me. The so called "Citizen's Juries" are a complete "con" to convince a gullible MSM that the government is listening to the people. It never has and never will. It's all fakery and window dressing.Period.

Remember the guiding rule of focus groups is - if you don't get the right answer first time keep asking until you do.

sean said...

Sounds like a form of Tammany Hall politics....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tammany_Hall

Anonymous said...

I know one is not allowed to swear on this blog - but saying that this is flipping disgusting just doesn't begin to cover it...

Anonymous said...

Saying it is bloody disgusting doesn't even come close to it either...

Anonymous said...

Saying that this pi$$es me off might give one the impression that this was just one of life's little hiccups, like a traffic jam on the M4...

Anonymous said...

No, there is just one word for it.. this is absolutely fuc*ing stinking in its rank, disgusting hypocrisy and you are absolutely right to publish this in its entirety to punish these intellectual pygmies who prostitute the meaning of the word consultation for their own political ends. To quote that great philosopher Graham Taylor "Do I NOT like that !!"

Dr Spooner said...

Perhaps I shouldn't be shocked by this, but I am...

Similar comments have been made on other blogs that mention this. It depresses me immensely that cynicism is currently so high that people aren't AUTOMATICALLY outraged by this.

The mainstream press should indeed pick it up, but what about the Opposition? This is yet another of the many open goals that the Tories (and, let's face it, the Lib Dems too) will completely ignore.

The electorate see this, and think "I wonder why? I bet it's because they see nothing wrong in it, and are probably up to something similar themselves."

And so the cycle of cynicism, disaffection and pathetically low voter turnout continues.

Frankly, if this is even half true true then as well as mass media reporting I would want to see Plod investigating. But then the cynic in me says "I bet it's not even illegal, and is therefore seen as fair tactics by the immoral undemocratic trough-snufflers who are supposed to be public servants, and who determine legality in the first place".

[Stomps off to pub under black cloud]

Cranmer said...

Appalling. Absolutely appalling. It is politically corrupt and morally degenerate to spend taxpayers money on this sort of scam.

The matter should be raised in the House of Commons as a matter of urgency when MPs return.

Anonymous said...

The "laypeople specifically chosen by an agency to attend the event" will often be friends/acquaintances of a recruiter who are briefed beforehand to play a particular role or claim to meet the requirements of the research brief. This 'rigging' of focus groups is endemic in market research, as it cuts out the expensive business of recruiting to a tightly defined brief. The respondents will then play their role as required, so as to ensure they get more work from the recruiter. Every business has its scams and market research is no different!

jean shaw said...

Iain,
In your Telegraph article yesterday you state you would have more time for e-petitions if you felt that the PM read them . Why not sign upto http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/PM-e-petitions which asks the PM to give this assurance. 8 signatures so far!!!

Anonymous said...

I am rarely shocked when I read your blog, but this is incredible.

Is this breaking the law in any way?

What can we do?

Mog said...

Perhaps instead of Her Majesty's Press picking up the cudgels.. we may actually hear something from Her Majesty's Opposition!

That would be novel!

Come on Dave get your blunderbuss out!

Trumpeter Lanfried said...

Control freaks.

How do they dress up the £75? What's it called? Expenses? Compensation for loss of time? Measly little sweetner? (Oops, sorry, delete the last one.)

Anyway, it will be a drop in the ocean in the overall cost of organising these fatuous charades.

I look forward to the Tories raging about this latest scam. Unless of course they're too busy working out how to keep up with Labour's spending plans.

Ulster Tory said...

I'm speechless - I assume you phone hasnt stopped ringing as the mainstream media chase this story?

sick of new labour said...

Let's not mince words. The £75 is a bribe pure and simple.

Do we know what "agency" was involved? Are the "members of the public" recruited from Labour Party members, trade union activists, wives/husbands of local Labour councillors etc?

This is blatant coruption, and as the great control freak Brown himself was at the meeting he should be nailed for this.

Let's hope the media take this up but even more so let's hope Cameron and his crew do or they should stand aside and make way for an opposition worthy of the name.

LancashireCat said...

I have just read this and feel phuysically shocked. Where do you start to highlight what is wrong with such a process? And is there any point in starting when the people who do this have been elected and re-elected and will almost certainly, be elected again?It says as much about the state of our country as about the deviousness of our politicians. Gordon Not Tony Blair Brown is neither staesman nor honest politician. He is as tainted as his predecessor but sadly he is the one that they want.

Anonymong said...

"Broken Society" Said Dave...

It certaintly is when people recieve bribes to bypass a "democratic" process.

He might be a tree hugging hippie, but Dave does speak truth sometimes...

Anonymous said...

Well, of course it's disgraceful but complaining about it would be a typical Brownian trap.

He'll respond that whoever complains about it isn't interested in democracy or listening to the people, and the fact that they disagree with the outcome of the consultation only demonstrates how out of touch they are with the public at large.

He'll insist that it is the medical profession's own fault that they didn't turn up in greater numbers and besides, shouldn't the NHS be answerable to the people and not the consultants?

By the time Brown's finished ripping into the Tories or Lib Dems for bringing this subject up, the original story of ending public consultations and replacing it with phoney controlled events with guaranteed outcomes will be entirely forgotten.

nadds said...

It will be interesting to find out if these sessions are supposed to be genuine research programmes and run under Market Research Society rules.

If they are, and I wouldn't be surprised if they are, to create "legitimacy", with the built in bias in selection and process as stated, Mattinson and OLR could be booted out of the MRS and stopped from running any research programmes, which will no doubt displease Chime Communication who own them.

Wonder how much HMG work is going Chime's way these days?

Mr Salmon said...

Dear Anonymous,
The piece is not 'rabidly pro-tory'. However, you are certainly correct that it is 'anti-labour'. Most of the medical profession care very little about the modern conservative party, who have done very little to excite them. However, we are fed up to the back teeth with the constant manipulation of the NHS by NuLabour, in order to win a few votes. MMC, MTAS, PFI, MRSA, 4 hour wait, NHS-IT, C&B have all been forced in by Labour, at great expense, and have all left the health service in a worse state than before.
However, bribing people in order to get local DGHs shut now is a new low, even for them, and deserves the involvement of the plod. And for Professor Darsi, the GMC.

Regards,
Mr Salmon @ Dr Rant.net

Gordon Brown's Double Standard said...

It would be interesting to know the Inland Revenue's view of the £75 and whether it is deemed to be taxable.
Any "proper" business doling out £75 cash without deduction could expect to receive some fairly nasty demands for tax.
If however, HMRC does not consider these payments to be taxable, I would be most interested to know why.

Anonymous said...

Disgrace, absolute disgrace.

Surely the only question now is who breaks the story first within the mainstream media.

Gordon will give a speech tomorrow reaffirming that the NHS is his priority. He will probably mention this consultation to pretend he is giving the people what they want. He will probably name Prof Darzi to add weight to all this.

This story ruins all of that in one fell swoop. It is huge. I suspect Gordon is in for a an unexpectedly difficult week.

Yak40 said...

Four legs good, two legs BETTER.

M. Sarkozy has the word for this government: racaille.

judith said...

Remember how Alan Milburn destroyed the Community Health Councils? No excuses, no reasons, just destruction.

He then put in place Patients' Forums, filled largely with the ignorant and inexperienced, which are now failing and are due to be replaced - who knows when - with yet another useless crowd.

It all means that there is no vocal, experienced, apolitical critique of the NHS anymore.

Now why would you want a situation like that?

Over to you, Chris Paul.

Dr Ray said...

Iain,
Thank you for highlighting this. I have to make it clear this was not a consultation about the closure of a single DGH but the first of a series of Citizens' Juries (yes I do know about apostrophes in reply to the pedant) linked to Sir Darzi's review. It will affect the whole country.
The £75 may well be seen as "expenses" but it is odd that the expenses were not offered to NHS staff. Even if it was assumed that NHS staff would claim expenses from their employers this would effectively be diverting NHS money to the NuLabour propaganda machine.
I can't do much more to validate this story as I just transcribed what was said to me by someone who did attend. It will be up to this consultant if he/she is willing to confirm the story to the media but we all know that this will be a career damaging move for an NHS employee.

Anonymous said...

Fix the juries, fix the result to fix the policy. This consultation stinks like two week old fish, and like a fish NULab rots from the head down.

Dr Rant said...

Sham public consultations on NHS reorganisations of the reconfiguration of the last reform are a phenomenon of the new millenium and the current government.

They do however seem to becoming more brazen with their contempt for the ideals of democratic process.

Each episode gets even closer to looking like the demonic love child of George Orwell and Kim Il Sung. How dare Gordon lecture Robert Mugabe on this form?

Elby the Beserk said...

It's corruption. Naked corruption. Indeedy, call in Yates

Iain - surely you know bods at the main papers who could chase this? It's just OUTRAGEOUS.

Elby the Beserk said...

My petition from before this came out
(shame on my typo!)

http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/CitizensJuries/

Dr Ray said...

There has been some comment on this story on the DoctorsNet forums (restricted access to doctors) and one consultant has come forward to confirm part of the story regarding the selection process, which effectively excluded hospital consultants. I am hoping someone else who actually managed to attend will post and confirm the story.
I reproduce the letter below (I am omitting the name which was given on the forum).

I recieved an invitation to attend the event -as a medical person rather than Joe Citizen- as did other 'Leaders', such as members of the Clinical Leaders Network in NW.

However the notice of the event period was far too short to have allowed attendence without having to cancel all operations already booked and confirmed on that day. The invitation was also circulated at the peak of the August summer holidays and many people would not have had it until their return to clinical. I was also puzzled by lack of event location details as a further barrier to attending.

I welcome the goverment's consultation being now lead by Lord Darzi and its aspirations but am disappointed that flawed methods may produce invalid results. If so the consequences are potentially ruinous.

Matt Wardman said...

I think we need an account from some members the Citizen Jury.

Two separate questions:

1 - Selection of the Jury.
2 - Payment to the members.

Most importantly, what is the Jury members perceptions of 2.

I have been paid in the past for taking part in (industry) "evaluations".

£75 would be par for the course for 1/3 of a day (AM, PM, or evening). That could be completely above board.

The real question is the integrity of the overall process.

Matt

Anonymous said...

I know it's unusual for me, but I only have two words to say.

GUY FAWKES!!!!!!!!!!
GUY FAWKES FOR NORMAN WESTMINSTER.
GUY FAWKES FOR THE EU!

Dr Ray said...

Department of Health has admitted that £75 cash in sealed envelopes was paid out to lay people attending Citizens Juries. story here

Elby the Beserk said...

I posted this in full on various of the CiF slobberings over Brown yesterday. All deleted. Reposted, no text, just the link and brief highlights. They banned me.

Something going on?