The Labour Welsh Government has been accused of holding a sham consultation and treating the Welsh public with contempt over its plans to scrap Community Health Councils.
Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru AM for North Wales, said the Government’s plan to abolish the CHCs, which are local patients’ voice groups, had not been subject to any kind of genuine public consultation or feedback.
He made the criticism after allegations by the independent Consultation Institute that the Welsh Government had made claims of holding eight consultation events. Mr Gruffydd said, “This is not the case and the Government has now hurriedly engaged a private firm to hold some public events in the last few days of the consultation*. It’s a shambolic way to debate whether we ensure that we continue to have an independent voice for patients that can hold health boards to account. I know that, here in the North at least, the local community health council has been an effective and responsive advocate for patients’ concerns.”
Mr Gruffydd also criticised the Labour Government for failing to speak at a public consultation on the matter organised by the Consultation institute: “When you have an independent and respected organisation in the field holding an event on the very subject you’re consulting upon, it makes no sense to boycott it. The Welsh Government stands accused of failing to have any meaningful discussion with key stakeholders and those who will be most directly affected by these planned changes.”
Rhion Jones, a leading authority on Public Engagement and Consultation and a founding Director of the Consultation Institute, expressed his shock at the Welsh Government’s response, saying that it had “encountered a problem it had never seen before”.
Llyr Gruffydd added, “The Welsh Government proposal to get rid of the Community Health Councils would be a retrograde step and that’s why it’s vital we have a thorough consultation that the Government genuinely listens to. The fact that they are clearly failing to do this effectively shows utter contempt towards the people of Wales.
“The Welsh Government’s failure to seek views beyond their own suggests to me that this is a rather shambolic approach and is merely a box-ticking exercise. Their slapdash approach is embarrassing. This whole process surrounding this White Paper should either be re-started or scrapped entirely.”
*Initially WG told the Consultation Institute that there had been eight White Paper engagement events. This is not the case and WG have decided to cobble together some events in the last few days of the consultation.
Having told the Consultation Institute that it is inappropriate for them, as a commercial organisation, to get involved in the White Paper – WG has engaged the Coproduction Network to organise engagement events very quickly.