Consultations as part of perverse power

January 25, 2008

The government is consulting about the section 60 legislation under the Health Professions Order 2001 which will force (though the bps has actually volunteered them) all psychologists to be registered and regulated by the Health Professions Council which is an arm of the government. If the psychologists become a ‘protected title’, then counsellors, therapists, and psychoanalysts will follow. Thus the government will specify training, competences, fitness-to-practice and so on and will regulate what you are licensed to do: work with anxiety, issues arising from adoption and so on. 1984 or what.

I am attempting to get some resistance in the form of letters going. Having now been involved in at least three of the government’s consultations, I know this to be foolhardy. Why? These are not consultations. They are designed to show how much support the government has. The last consultation which was trumpeted as very positive has just been found to have 55% of responses which disagreed.

I am reminded of car advertisements. Apparently, they are not designed to make you want to buy the car, but to reassure you, post-sale, that you have made the right decision. Some ways the government manipulates consultations:

  • They set impossible deadlines. This one was supposed to be released on 10th December but was not released until the bps’s office had closed for Christmas – Friday 21st December. The last one was over the summer started early July and finished early September.
  • The questions are rigged of the type: When did you stop beating your wife. The recent consultation about Heathrow’s third runway (I live in Twickenham – they reopened the runway after the crash today.) is based on yes/no questions which if you answer means you agree with it. We sorted that out at various Christmas parties.
  • Consultation meetings are similarly rigged. You get the sales presentation of the government’s view and then have voting buttons to press y/n. It does not matter which button you press you agree with the government. There is no open discussion.
  • The scoping project which the government paid for in 2005, came up with over 200 training organisation within the talking therapy field. There was magnificent difference in practices. Within these organisations there is an enormous amount of experience of dealing with human distress and suffering. Ros Mead of the DoH thanked everyone and told us that the government would now implement HPO2001 in their own way.

The government is behaving perversely in that it is feeding ‘chickenfeed’ (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy) to their dupes to keep them happy. The Health Professions Council advertised last September for gruesome stories to prove how dangerous unregistered practitioners are. I have spotted one case on Channel 5 news as the result. There are over 150,000 practitioners in the field of the Talking Therapies so this is a very small percentage. Anyone not complying with their system of registration and regulation, is automatically vilified. Unregistered practitioners are charlatans and miscreants who cause long lasting harm in their patients.

The letters are attempting to puncture this certainty.

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