This week.... (By John Richmond)

Posted in: by Emma Knape on 16 July 2014
Tagged with:

This week I am reflecting on the process of recommissioning of services. We are awaiting the result of our bid for Blackpool so it is hard not think about anything else.

There is a lot of work invested into bid writing and on top of that there is a big emotional investment.

My own strategy around these sorts of things is to try and not think about it too much. This, I believe, devalues the effort to some extent, but at least it protects me from some of the potential disappointment.

It is a fairly new process I think, certainly in terms of European law, that govern the process of procurement of government contracts and because it is a legal process the emotional highs and lows are crashing against an unfeeling and ultimately disinterested process for both sides, commissioners and potential providers alike. I donít think this fits well with anyone in particular as we are basically tribal animals and want at base to be working with people we like, admire and feel a shared and common purpose with. The process of commissioning does not allow this to come to the for, I believe, and that process only begins after contract award. When writing bids we are looking to reflect the passion we have for our work but trying to think what particular passions might be what commissioners are looking for beyond the performance management framework.

I was listening last night to the news about the retirement of the police officer Clive Driscol, who was most recently involved in the Stephen Lawrence case. It was clear that he had won the trust of the family and friends of Stephen and had done this by regular, full and open discussion. It was clearly his passion, dedication and belief that the police should be open, 'warts and all', that went a long way to delivering the most recent convictions in the case. He pointed out that the Home Secretary had ordered the metropolitan police service to be completely transparent and the response from senior police officers was to seek legal advice on what could and could not be shared.

My link into the commissioning process is that it is one that does not focus on the development of open relationships that can develop over time but rather on making sure that a process is followed that can be legally said to be 'fair'.

It is a process, in a way, that substitutes for both the strengths and weaknesses of leadership and leaves something a bit dissatisfying (although it is great if you win!).

The worst bit as a successful bidder, I think, is the bit after the decision is made as there is a period of 10 days when the preferred provider is not allowed to inform anyone that they are. This is very hard to achieve as rumours fly and people are always trying to work out who is the preferred provider and also the preferred provider wants to celebrate their success and it rather talks the wind out of the sails.

Then the worst bit for existing staff within a service is the process of TUPE. There is a long period of waiting for information to come through to try and match people to job specifications after which discussions can begin as to whether those jobs exist in the new structure and if they do, whether those people have the required skills etc. This is interminable and for the provider a period of uncertainty as there is the possibility that no one will turn up for work on day one.

Finally, in all of that there is the bemusement of the patients who hear about these changes, see the staff morale drop prior to transfer and then have to wait while the new provider gets their act together, and when they do, start making changes to what and how things are delivered.

All very strange and counterintuitive to how relationships normally change and develop.

It puts me in mind of 'secrets and lies' an excellent film by Mike Leigh that demonstrates the grief that is caused by the keeping of a secret that, on the face of it, was done for the best of reasons and the repercussions that occur as a result.

I wonder what the repercussions will be from these processes long term and whether we have sufficient distance to be able to tell what are repercussions and what are not.