The NHS Commissioning Board has proposed a "Civil Society Assembly" in the wake of the Mid Staffs scandal. The paper openly refers to "the usual suspects", and their wish to avoid said groups/individuals. It's a nice thought but, having attended various LINk, HealthWatch and other health & social care events, I'm not sure how this can realistically be achieved.  There are so many different [unfortunately competing] interests, that it always ends up being those who are already in the club, those who shout loudest and those with connections who get the seats at the table.

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Comment by Kate Gordon on February 28, 2013 at 9:52

Hi Joe - as an issue that mobilised people, yes

Here's another interesting piece from the MAC partnership

Comment by joe taylor on February 28, 2013 at 8:43

This demonstration of community action might be an inspiration

Comment by Kate Gordon on February 27, 2013 at 19:53

Hi Peter - did I sound sceptical and pessimistic?  Perhaps it's the effect of working in Birmingham for too long! ;-)

I hope HealthWatch works and does a good job [although this doesn't give much cause for hope], and I'm glad the NHSCB called out the usual suspects because usually people only whisper about them so nothing actually changes.

In answer to your question, I'm not personally looking to get on-board; I'm more interested in observing the involvement of the VCS than being directly involved.    I'll definitely post anything that looks relevant to NATCAN.  

Comment by Peter Goble on February 27, 2013 at 0:01

I've skim-read the proposals only, but I have a positive feeling about this Assembly as a result.  It acknowledges issues like public passivity and health inequalities.  It suggests a remit that goes beyond just medical paradigms of health.  It seems to champion independence of existing operating structures and hierarchies.  It argues for co-creation, and a more-or-less clean sheet for design.  It strongly advocates (but doesn't stipulate in advance) imaginative ways of calling health care providers publicly to account.

What's not to like?

All right, a certain healthy scepticism is definitely called for.  In fact, as far as I'm concerned it oozes from my every sweat gland without anything to call it succulently forth.  But I shall set cynicism aside and watch this with interest.  So I'm glad you've brought to my attention, Kate.  I hope you'll keep an eyer on developments too.  Are you thinking of getting yourself on board?

The question of how anything can be realistically achieved is the fifty billion dollar question, and I'm sure the reason no-one ever wins the jackpot is because there's no single answer.

Every problem poses its own narky little questions that sometimes several need fiddly little answers.  It's like those little jobs around the home.  I've got dozens of old biscuit tins and plastic boxes in my shed, and a couple of kitchen drawers full of queer odds and ends that might come in handy to fix a job, and often have come in handy.   

Perhaps community action needs a similar mindset.  We're all queer odds and ends, I'm queerer and odder than many. I have a very modest sense of my own value in getting anything at all done, it's tiny.  But I would be making a mistake to discount it all, and so should you, Kate, if you discounted yours.  You've alerted me to this news, and you've provoked a discussion between us.  You've opened my bleary old eyes, and increased my tired old heart-rate by a couple of extra beats per minute.  We could even join our own club of two, and we don't even need seats or a table these days!

Keep up the good work and keep us informed on what's cooking in the "Civil Society Assembly" kitchen from time to time.  My own nose will be tilted too.

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