I worry we have lost the plot. In the last two weeks I have received four different letters from solicitors offering me advice on consultation. Post Derbyshire some colleagues have become obsessed with what we need to satisfy our legal friends. How grim. Have we really got to the point where we call our solicitors before we chat to patients?
Actually I think the problem is the word 'consultation'. It seems to have become associated with Section 11, a formal process and whether we have done the minimum to avoid judicial review. Let's not start from the end. Let's not work out the minimum we need to do. Let's not plan for petitions from groups of unhappy patients.
We need to stand up as commissioners and do our job. We need to understand our communities and our patients. Involving the public and patients is as much about commissioning as health outcomes, improving health, contestability and all that. I don't want to work in an NHS where we do the minimum to see us through.
I wouldn't want to be treated by a doctor who just did enough to make me better. I would want them to do all they can.
Thankfully I work in a PCT that sees engaging citizens, patients, the community, staff and stakeholders as the business and not another process to go through.
We have just run a survey asking people what they think of primary care. We planned for 2,000 responses and we got 10,000. People can understand the complexity, the trade-offs and that things need to change when we take the time to ask.
So, let's keep our legal friends on the 'do minimum' and get on with commissioning services in the right way. If we can learn anything from Derbyshire it's that we have to take people with us. This is not the same as ducking the tricky decisions. It's about doing the groundwork.
Director, special projects,