If you can get past the alliterative battering of the title of their newsletter, the Delib Digital Democracy Digest (well you were warned), there is some interesting stuff about the Your Freedom site calling for citizens’ ideas – their reactions, uses etc. What it set off for me was whether the NHS needed a dedicated Freedom site of its own since Health was not included in the Topic Tags. It comes up as part of the ideas posted e.g. Abolish NHS Direct and scrap the national NHS IT programme. I though it would be bound to have something on that top of the list health topic – paying for parking at hospitals – but nothing came up.
We already have a limited idea of what a NHS Freedom site would contain from current sites like Patient Opinion and others which offer a space for patients to sound off and suggest change on the basis of their individual experience. Contributors to those sites are not asked for their views on the NHS big picture.
The Partners all have worries about the patient/ user/ citizen voice being heard in the current rush to change – see Caroline’s piece on changes in schools and closer to the Health agenda, Andrew has written about the relationship between the new Healthwatch and the existing LINks.We are also worried about GP-led commissioning given the lamentable record of many GPs in patient participation and engagement – Balham Park Surgery honorably excepted. (Read our report on how they manage patient participation and if you want to know more speak to Natalie Goldsmid-Whyte our latest Associate – the Managing Partner for that practice).
Electric LINks – a participation mash-up
E-communication channels are changing the face of consultation. Our recent training of lay representatives had an entire session devoted to using the web and email to do that job. The old stereotype of oldies crumbling in terror at the thought of opening a computer is fading fast. I am sure that soon we will be communicating much more on health matters using the web. Can we look forward to the Electric LINk. All LINk sites could be linked to it and all minutes and published material from individual LINks would be visible and useable. The material would be available to all under a Creative Commons-like licence and be used as a mash-up to bring together the user and citizen opinions.
A Citizen Commissioner – an agent of revolution
Pulling together this material and using to formulate and test the arguments and bring them to the attention of national decision makers would be a new type of person/role whom we will call the Citizen Commissioner. A whiff of the incorruptible seagreen of Carlyle’s French Revolution (see Robespierre’s end left) – but turning our back on history, this would be a useful job which will sit at the centre of the web of user information, experience and ideas to pull together and give due weight to the citizen voice. It will stand for independence and a degree of detachment from the NHS and Whitehall machine and be there for the citizen in a way much closer to the original Swedish Ombudsman than the complaint handler that the UK versions now are. Could such a Citizen Commissioner be a post in the new Commissioning Board?
Government 2.0 – September Conference in US
Perhaps we should set up an event like the second Gov 2.0 Summit being held in Washington DC on 7-8th September where the role of IT in changing the way we interact with our government is at the centre of the agenda. No one on the list of speakers I saw on the site is from the UK government or any other UK organisation which is a shame. Last year’s was a sold out event. We will have to hope that someone from Delib will go and tell us all about it. If they can’t make it, I’m free if anyone fancies paying the air fare. Thank goodness it does not clash with Vinea the big wine fair in Sierre in the Helvetian canton of Valais. There are some things that never will be done on the web and wine tasting is one of them.