4th May 2011
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News and Comment from Roy Lilley

The celebrations and street parties are well out of the way.  The bunting is in the bin and a trip to the bottle bank is a waste of time - it's full. 


Now, brace yourself for the long haul to the summer holiday.  On the way to the beach we have the little matter of the 'listening' report.  Some say the panel has more plants than a garden centre.  I guess we'll find out! 


The report is scheduled for publication early June.  April is over and the group have met.  There are 20 working days in May.  The Listeners have already asked the DH, who will ask the SHAs, who will ask the PCTs; what meetings are going on that can be rebadged Listening.  Work is underway, 100 or so rebadge meetings have been listened at and finding out about the rest and reporting back will take a week. 


The DH will compile a report for the Listeners who will figure out what regurgitated meetings they will attend, taking into account they have a day job to do; running a hospital, seeing patients and all the rest.  Plus, they don't want to go to anything that is likely to erupt into a row or bad publicity.


Neither will they want to give away too much by way of advanced notice of where they are going in case they run into real workers, Unison placards and the tea-time news. 


The DH have developed and couriered 'listening material' such as templates, questions to ask and a format for responses to make analysis fathomable.  They will also bust a gut to try and make sure there is a DH apparatchik in attendance.   Sorting all that out will take more time.


If the Listeners don't come down your way you can be web-listened to.  Until yesterday there were only around 300 people who posted a view on the Listening Web-site.  We mentioned the link yesterday and doubled the response numbers. And, ouch; many comments put the boot in!  Here's the link, again, so have your say.  Fill yer boots!  Tell 'em what you really think.  It is important.


In the third week there will be five working days to attended gatherings, write summaries and dump it all on the DH 'Listening' support group.  That's another week.  The listeners will congregate, cogitate, compare notes and collect their thoughts.  There will be a row; is the report the sum total of unvarnished listening, or the polished opinions of the Listeners?  How will the listening be validated?  Will it have more whitewash than B&Q?


DH warriors will work into the night, on trains and at the weekend sketching an outline report.  Wives, husbands, kids and partners will complain they are the ones not being listened to!  They will feel the hot breath of the Big Beast on their necks. Laptops will melt! 


A draft report will be produced, Ministers will be provided with an advanced copy, as will Downing Street.  Clarifications will be 'suggested', modifications will be 'hinted at'.  The DH will dilly-dally.  There will be a Cam-La favourable leak.


With time running out the whole thing will be rewritten by an ex-Cambridge bright-spark, working in the bowels of Number 10, and sent direct to the printers.  Time's up.  In fact it is the second week in June.  Proof, not, that there was never going to be enough time to do this properly, no, no.  Proof that the 'Listeners' had listened 'extra hard'.


The report will be released, under embargo, to the press.  Some will jump the gun with stories such as; "The David Cameron's pause and listening exercise is expected to say that; everyone thinks Doc's should commission care, blah, blah.'  A blaze of publicly will pronounce the Prime Minister was right, LaLa was right, the policy is lovely and 'Listeners' will look at the New Year's Honours List with more than the usual curiosity.


A row will erupt.  Listeners will say they listened.  The 'listened-to', will say they were not.  Others will say it was done too quickly; it was a fit-up and does not address the issues.


The King's Fund will be 'disappointed' and probably produce their own report by Christmas.    The BMA, with a sigh of relief, will say it is a 'lost opportunity', knowing half their members are looking forward to the lovely-jubbly days to come.  The Royal Colleges will hold their breath until they go purple and wet themselves.  Unison will move for a strike ballot and the news papers still won't understand the issues.


Chief Listener, Gis-a-Job Field, will go into hiding and be found, ten years from now, selling kites at the Benghazi Beach Club.  Listeners will be snubbed, their careers tainted and they will cut lonely figures sitting by themselves in the far corner of the cafeteria.


MPs, with huge relief, will seize on the report and send copies of it to the hundreds of dissenters that have been filling their post bags.


Go-Johnnies will buy extra copies of the report, turn it into bunting and organise another street party.    


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