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Caring Times Christmas Lunch 2021

09 Dec 2021

The Dorchester Hotel, Park Lane, London

Hiding from the light

By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON

Being a creature of government, the NHS generally tries to look on the bright side of whatever comes its way in the shape of government policy, so when it yelps in outrage at the exigent requirement for all its staff to wear face masks as of 15 June, we must imagine that NHS leaders are quite cross about it.

“Why weren’t we consulted?” they asked, accusing government of making policy on the hoof. This question will resonate with their colleagues in social care who have, not just during the pandemic but for years, been deluged with directives cooked-up with little or no consultation.

Perhaps I’m being a little unfair in respect of recent policy decisions; in a time of emergency government must think on its feet and respond quickly to new challenges, irrespective of whether or not some of them have been of government’s own making. There may not always be time to consult as widely as might be desirable, but surely government could have sounded-out the NHS bosses before coming out with the fiat on face masks.

Government is, after all, just another word for regulation, and for regulation to be appropriate and effective there must be a deep and comprehensive understanding of whatever system is being regulated. Consultation, one would have thought, is an important part of acquiring that understanding, but recent events have shown that government has very little comprehension of the social care system; if anything it has shunned the light of understanding. Because of this, despite the plethora of reports, commissions and papers of various hues over many years, almost nothing has been done in the way of rational reform.

Much as we must be weary of the seemingly endless rounds of consultation, perhaps we must accept yet another round is necessary, and hope that government listens closely before acting. Those who rely on social care, and those who provide it, must not be yet again fobbed-off with an ill-considered, cosmetic papering-over of the ever-widening cracks.

  • The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.

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