The time permitted for consultation exercises appears to be shrinking. Traditionally, responses have been sought over three months or more. In at least two recent instances (Partnership in Action and the Caldicott report on guardians), the time allowed has dropped to around six weeks.

This makes it difficult for organisations to prepare considered responses and for their boards and committees to review them properly. Such pressure of deadlines might be more acceptable if policy statements were being produced in a rapid and timely fashion, but all too frequently they are not.

When this government took office, we were told it would 'hit the ground running'. What this actually means is that ministers are covering the ground in their own good time, and a great deal of running around is being required from everyone else.

Andrew Hawker