Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Independent Enquiry?



I am not sure what to make over the row over Assembly Health Minister and the leaked Emails which show show Professor Longley the man asked by the Welsh Government bout how best the hospitals can deliver health care.asking the NHS Wales medical director Dr Chris Jones for further evidence "to sharpen up the document and its impact in supporting the case for change".

Or in  another email, Dr Jones asks Professor  Longley to make his report "more positive if possible i.e describing a persuasive vision of how things could be better".

Professor Longley also  expressed concerns to top Welsh government officials that he does not have enough data to prove services need to be overhauled.

He emailed "As we've discussed, a crucial piece in the jigsaw is the argument 'we can't stay as we are: just look at outcomes'."

It seems to me that the major problem here is not that Professor Longley conclusion that

The case is really quite strong, in Wales as elsewhere in the UK, that some acute hospital services should now be reconfigured.”

Rather that this was precisely  what the the Labour Assembly wanted the report to come up with and it was not Independent  but rather Professor Langley was given a remit to come up with statistics that would back the Welsh Assembly Governments intended course..

In this its probably no different from any Independent enquiry. in that.

  • You have an Idea of what policy you want and you already have a large number of Civil servants to advice you on this and how to do or not to do it as is often the case.
  • You set up and Independent Enquiry under the chair of someone whose already in tune with this policy. Professor Langley for example has already stated that fundamental changes to the way that health is delivered. 
  • You back the committee with resources designed to back your conclusions whilst witness who oppose such change have to do their own research
  • You make sure you see a draft report and make it clear that it needs to be rewritten if the conclusions are not entirely what you want. 
  • The reports main author is given the hint of a Honour (in Westminster reports) or a place on a lucrative quango.
  • You then publish report and then claim your hands are clean when it comes to making decisions unpopular with the electorate (downgrading  Hospital for example because an enquiry by an expert as shown that this is the best or only option.
To my mind Lesley Griffith and her civil servants has probably behaved no differently from any Minister setting up enquiry to justify what they have already intended but this time because of the leaked email's it is clearer that an Independent enquiry ISO such thing.

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