Friday, 9 March 2012

Where's The Risk Register Dave?

15 months ago the Government made an assessment of risks involved in their plans for the NHS shakeup.
When Campaigners such as the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Nursing asked for a copy, the Department of Health refused to show it to them.
Off they went to a legal tribunal to force the DoH to publish their findings with the final decision being that the DoH must release their findings.
Still the DoH refused and made an appeal against the first ruling citing to release the findings would 'set a precedent that would undermine government departments' ability to assess the risks of pursuing particular policies' only to be told after a two day hearing that it must stop keeping the document secret.
Cheers all around and just in time as in a fortnight the House of Commons and House of Lords debate the bill to reform the National Health Service before it gains parliamentary approval which rubber stamps the reforms.
Cheers cut short because the Department of Health have 28 days to decide whether to appeal again or not and they don't seem to be in any rush, saying: 'Once we have been able to examine the judgment we will work with colleagues across government and decide our next steps', but of course the debate is in 12 days!! After that it won't matter what happens because it will already be rubber stamped as an Act of Parliament!!
There will be uproar so you think, how can they debate anything if they only have half the story so the former shadow Health Minister John Healey has urged the Government to 'respect the law and release the risk register in full and let people make up their own minds on the NHS changes'.
It's scarcely believable that MPs and Lords are even considering voting on a bill of this importance when such a pertinent document is being withheld from public scrutiny.
It also seems incomprehensible that the risk assessment could be anything other than hugely awful because were it otherwise, the government would have released it and slapped all of us against the reforms around the face with it.
So the Government seem to be backed into a corner with everyone waiting to see if they will try to drag their heels until after the vote or just flatly refuse to publish it and we are left wondering just what the risk register contains that they are so desperate to not let us see it.
We can just hope that the MP's supposedly acting on our behalf feel the same way.

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