One Gloucestershire commissioned a Citizens’ Jury to judge the ‘Fit for the Future’ public consultation process. The Jury did not consider the proposals for reconfiguring specialist hospital services, but only the consultation process itself. The Citizens’ Jury report published on 1 February raises serious concerns about the public consultation. Full results of the Citizens’ Jury can be found here.
Some of the Jury’s conclusions that give reason for most concern include:
Page 10 of the Report, 94.4% of jurors state that the “information or data in consultation materials is inaccurate, incorrect, incomplete or insufficient”. The Report goes on to say, “This matters because it will lead to an incorrect judgement because the audience may not fully understand the issues or the potential impacts which would limit the success of the whole”.
Very few jurors agreed that the consultation was conducted in accordance with the Gunning Principles (The Gunning Principles form a strong legal foundation upon which public consultations are assessed). For example, question 1a (page 6), only 27.8% of jurors believed that the consultation was conducted in line with these principles. In response to question 1b on page 9, only 16.7% of jurors felt that the consultation process complied. The jurors also raised concerns about important aspects which the consultation failed to address (question 4, page 15).
83.3% of jurors believed that the ‘Fit for the Future’ consultation should have incorporated a response to the COVID pandemic. Over the coming days REACH will be highlighting other key weaknesses in the ‘Fit for the Future’ consultation identified by the Citizens’ Jury findings via its social media channels.
Michael Ratcliffe MBE, Chairman of REACH commented:
“REACH has on a number of occasions expressed its concern about the Fit for the Future Consultation, primarily around the timing of such an exercise during a pandemic and associated lockdowns, which have prevented effective consultation and – the complexity of the issues raised. The findings in the Report from the Citizens’ Jury highlight crucial shortcomings in the Consultation Process. REACH strongly recommends One Gloucestershire reconsiders its proposals in the light of these concerns about the public consultation process”.
1. More information from One Gloucestershire on the Citizens’ Jury Process can be found here.
2. Further explanation of the Gunning Principles can be found here.