Thursday, 2 April 2009

Public Consultations That Are Anything But

Ever wondered where the likes of clinically obese Liam Donaldson get their quite astoundingly false figures? They are always via a 'public' consultation ... to which the public are not invited.

Clever, huh?

Well, we are invited, but you'd have to be Sherlock fucking Holmes to find them. You also need a computer, an internet connection, and an incredible ability to trawl the bowels of government web-sites for the merest sniff of one.

Some examples. If you live in Scotland, did you know that there are two such consultations, on various issues to do with smoking, which close in the next few days? Plus one which closed two days ago? Nope, thought not. Not much of a surprise really seeing as it's not the point of the exercise. They are circulated widely to groups who agree with whatever legislation is being planned, dissenting views aren't very welcome.

The public do tend to get in the way of a good, new-fashioned, public sector consultation. The professional busybodies, fake charities, and health stalinists are invariably lining up to give their view on what the government have paid them to ask for. The only thing generally missing is the public being aware of what is going on.

So, what's on the menu for you Jocks at the moment, then?

Well, firstly, we have that much advertised 'consultation' on "Achieving smoke-free mental health services in Scotland", the deadline for which is Monday 6th April. Psychiatric hospitals are exempted under the terms of the scottish smoking ban, but this just irks the righteous so very much. Best ban that then, but just not where people can see it and object.

This document is so packed full of lies and leading statements, it is absurd. For example:

The researchers also interviewed mental health professionals in Scotland, and found them strongly in favour of moving towards smoke-free environments. It was felt that allowing smoking to continue - when almost all other workplaces are smoke-free - would:

reinforce the stigma attached to mental ill-health

How so? This is purely opinion is it not? Where is the research?

We would like to hear what you think about achieving smoke-free mental health services in Scotland, and how best we could reduce exposure to second-hand smoke in psychiatric hospitals and units.

So that's what everyone wants, is it? I thought you were consulting here. It very much appears that the 'consultation' has a pre-determined outcome it wishes to achieve.

Data from a national evaluation of the smoke-free legislation indicate that it has been a great success. After the ban was introduced there was:

a 17% reduction in heart attack admissions

Cough! No there wasn't. This was a selective survey by Prof Jill Pell on cherry-picked hospitals. It didn't compare like with like (it omitted two months of the year to bolster its propaganda), and picked and chose which heart attacks it wanted to include in order to reach the conclusion that was desired. What's more, it was a sample study prior to actual hospital figures being released, and guess what? The true statistics showed nothing of the sort.

Yet this is presented as fact. It's a fucking lie, pure and simple. Even the BBC said it was crap FFS!

As for the flurry of excitable headlines, what appeared to be hard medical evidence now looks more like over-hasty and over-confident research, coupled with wishful political thinking and uncritical journalism.

Christ, I could go on all day pointing out the nonsense in this 'consultation', it is riddled with it. There is a heavy use of the words 'may', 'could', and 'likely', but, unlike that which bloggers are required to do to be taken seriously, no linking to any sources or solid evidence.

The whole exercise is a farce. An exhibition of how your tax is being thrown around on illiberal ideals by vacant, overpaid shitsticks who should be given no more responsibility than a lollipop and a zebra crossing.

You may not know about this process, but these cunts make damn sure that their chums know about it. It is circulated amongst a whole host of other professional righteous whingers.

NHS Boards
Local Authorities
Public Participation Fora ( PPFs)
Patient Focused Patient Involvement groups ( PFPIs)
Scottish Recovery Network
Mental health service user groups
Carers organisations
Alzheimers Scotland
Depression Alliance.

Now, forgive me for being a bit obvious here, but shouldn't the very first people to be consulted be those who have to live in these institutions? And what's more, their views should be weighted heavily over and above a 'medical professional' considering the former is not entitled to leave the premises at will, while the latter is afforded choice?

I mentioned one which closed two days ago? It was on behalf of the Grampian NHS Trust and dealt with banning smoking on any hospital grounds. Again, it was kept hidden from all but those who are likely to agree. Fortunately, a union actually did something useful for a change and objected. Big time.

Unison said it issued a survey to its members and other staff, and that the response showed that 87% of those who took part had concerns about the proposed total ban.

Bows and arrows against the lightning I'm afraid, UNISON. This is happening, no matter what those who are affected think of it. They'll simply blast you out of the water. You are just one group, amongst a dozen or more, who are paid to respond to such documents. You may even find that your response has been erased anyway if it isn't on message. It wouldn't be the first time.

Members of the Tobacco Retailers Alliance, a coalition of 25,000 independent retailers, have expressed outrage that their views were excluded from a Government report into retail displays of tobacco.

There is another squirrelled away on the Scottish Parliament site regarding tobacco displays, which ends on Wednesday 8th April. Didn't know that? Probably not. Because you're not supposed to.

This is just a tiny snapshot of modern British 'democracy'. There are hundreds of these consultations at any one time, all hiding away from the people who will be affected by them. On all manner of subjects, all with the same objective, to screw you before you know you've been royally fucked.

It's not now enough to get your vote on a certain manifesto promise and then change the terms, that is too obvious. The fashion under Labour and the SNP is to simply change the rules without even bothering to ask you. If you complain, they can point to your lethargy in not finding out about it, even if buried under a mountain of deliberately-placed bullshit.

Or, as Arthur Dent found out in The Hitchhikers Guide.

"But Mr Dent, the plans have been available in the local planning office for the last nine month."
"Oh yes, well as soon as I heard I went straight round to see them, yesterday afternoon. You hadn't exactly gone out of your way to call attention to them had you? I mean like actually telling anybody or anything."
"But the plans were on display ..."
"On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them."
"That's the display department."
"With a torch."
"Ah, well the lights had probably gone."
"So had the stairs."
"But look, you found the notice didn't you?"
"Yes," said Arthur, "yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying Beware of the Leopard."

Still think you live in a democracy? You're wrong. It's a cuntocracy.

UPDATE: Raedwald has another one to get angry about. Same story, government washing their dirty laundry out of the public view.

the consultation as issued has an inbuilt bias against implementation; the civil servant's letter asks specifically of councils that "you could ensure that copies of this letter are shared with officers / employees within your organisation who may have an interest in the proposals (i.e. have details about their remuneration package published). Individuals' views will also be considered in response to the consultation"


banned said...

"Patient Focused Patient Involvement groups ( PFPIs)"

Dunno about Scotland but I was chatting with a Lady the other day; she had, via her membership of Age concern, been on a Patients Forum for two years. She told me that as soon as they were properly up and running and started to make their particular concerns known, the Patients Forum was closed down.

Over the years I have spoken to a number of mental healthcare professionals who were all of the opinion that since patients view themselves as being 'punished' by being confined, to deny them smoking in their new compulsory Domestic Abode would not only be doubly unfair but would also directly damage their mental health as a result.

BTS said...

I was intrigued when reading the link that Dick posted:

"Tobacco and Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Bill (SP Bill 22)

The main purposes of the Bill are—

i) to introduce statutory controls on the display and sale of tobacco products to reduce the attractiveness and availability of tobacco products to children and young people;
ii) to make provision to amend and clarify the eligibility criteria for providers of primary medical services, including introducing a requirement that all parties to a contract for primary medical services must demonstrate a sufficient involvement in the provision of care and/or the day to day running of services."

I apologise if I'm being rather dense, but what in My Dead Cat's name is the common link between these two proposals?

I can work out why they are on the same bill, but could somebody please explain why politicians are getting away with such preposterous crap?

Has anyone got a number for the A-Team..?