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Notes from the field of public involvement

Monday, 18 December 2006

Greater LINks Spotted At Large and Unfenced

We and other parliamentary bill watchers were treated last week to a rare sighting: a greater LINks lurking in the shadows of local government. Legislation twitchers spotted the LINks - notoriously a rather shy, shadowy creature - at the back of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Bill. Its sudden appearance half-hidden in the lush foliage surrounding town halls may herald global warming, or perhaps it signals a hotting up of government's commitment to public accountability across public services. Expert opinion is divided on whether genus LINKs represents evolution or intelligent design. But it is widely anticipated that parliamentary scrutineers will make every effort to separate fact from wishful thinking, nay fantasy, and capture the prowling LINks in the nets strung around the Westminster village for exhibition in a 2007 bill. Our previous thoughts on LINks are here: A voice to go with choice - make sure it's strong and heard this time.

No ringfencing

One concerning aspect of the LINks sighting is its lack of ring fencing, a device needed not to constrain the timorous beastie from roaming far and wide, but to protect the resources flowing towards the local authorities charged with making the contractual arrangements for the involvement of people in the commissioning, provision and scrutiny of health services and social services. If these rations end up sustaining the local Council tax and not the LINks, the creature is likely to have a retarded growth and a pretty weak bite.

An appetite for Section 11

The newly established National Centre for Involvement will spearhead the evolutionary study of LINks as they establish themselves across England with the aid of an exotic plant, a reinvigorated Section 11 preferred by 10 out of 10 LINks fanciers in the Department of Health. A good supply of Section 11 is said by experts to become as inseperable from LINks as bamboo is from pandas. Will this be a recipe for a rumble in the health and social care jungle? We hope genus LINks makes a big noise and that this first sighting of the creature is not dismissed as a fantasy - just another PPI phantom body. 

To see what the breeders think, have a look at the LINks regulatory impact assessment here: http://www.communities.gov.uk/index.asp?id=1505155

Andrew Craig | (Problem occured connecting to database: The server requested authentication method unknown to the client