Wednesday 6 January 2010

Wise thoughts for the year ahead and Burnham again!

There is a wonderful new book "Keep Calm and Carry On" which contains "wise advice for hard times".

Two thoughts are particularly apposite for Sector CEOs.

"There is no education like adversity".
Benjamin Disraeli.

And the wisdom of the ancients from Horace:

"Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents which, in prosperous circumstances, would have lain dormant ".

These eloquently make the point that there are opportunities for our sector in the year ahead if we grasp them. And we will!

This was a point I stressed to Rolande Anderson when I met her yesterday. She is the new Head of the OTS, replacing Campbell Robb who is now CEO of Shelter (and an ACEVO member naturally). It was good to hear that Rolande actively sought the OTS job as she saw the potential and challenge of it!

And good to have a one to one with one of ACEVO's new members, Simon Antrobus, recently appointed as the CEO of Addaction - a great charity working on the serious issues of addiction in our society. Currently with a turnover of 40m and 1200 staff it's an important player in this crucial area of work. He stressed their worry about the Burnham anti sector policy as some 90% of their income comes from contracts. Any attempt to row back contracts from our sector and place them in house will be disastrous for them. And he stressed that the contracts they have won from the public sector have been transformational. He said in Cambridgeshire, where they took over a service from the NHS, they have radically improved services and raised productivity. This illustrates the folly of the Burnham stance - he is ignoring the huge potential for improving services and creating greater efficiency by this sop to the unions' approach.

Simon also Chaired the Centre for Social justice's National Inquiry into Youth Crime and Gangs which reported last year.

I was able to tell Simon the good news yesterday when we heard that the DH Competition Panel have accepted our complaint about anti competitive behaviour by the Great Yarmouth PCT, following the Burnham U turn on preferred supplier and will investigate it. All strength to their arm. The Panel is part of DH so we have to hope they will be robust in resisting improper influences from other parts of the Department who want to protect Burnham from the consequences of his ill thought out policy which discriminates against the third sector.

This should also be a warning to any other PCT who wants to exclude the Third sector from increasing better service supply to citizens and communities. Although this is a complaint against one PCT, it is the first instance of a PCT implementing Andy Burnham's 'preferred provider' policy, so can therefore be interpreted as a complaint against the Secretary of State's position.

The real significance of this on a public policy and political level is that the official guidance to commissioners on 'preferred provider' policy is due for clearance soon, and DH is also trying to alter the remit of the Competition Panel. Both would need Cabinet sign-off, at which time it will become official government policy. We would therefore not be able to bring this complaint in the future.

So we have a unique opportunity here to have Andy Burnham's stance judged and it is highly possible they will say that it is anti-competitive. This would mean that an independent NHS panel set up by the previous SoS could in effect rule that the SoS is rolling back on competitive practice and failing to act in the best interests of patients and tax payers.

Interesting !

No comments: