Trust in public services eroded by systematic failure


Many Irish people have lost trust in public services as a result of systems failures, a report published today says.

The National Economic and Social Council (NESC) will host a conference in Croke Park today on a series of reports, entitled “Achieving Quality In Our Public Services: A Synthesis Report”.

The reports focus on quality and standards of policing, schools, disability services and residential care for older people, homecare for older people and on end-of-life care in hospitals.

The NESC finds there has also been progress and reform in the regulation of some services.

Key points

* The key points from the six reports on specific public services are:

* There is now a more effective oversight infrastructure for investigating complaints against gardaí.

* Schools will be required to issue a five-year improvement plan and regularly evaluate their progress.

* There is now considerable momentum towards a personalised model of care in the disability sector, which could build on much of the work that has been accomplished by non-governmental organisations.

* The Health Information and Quality Authority has operated as an effective regulator of care for residential institutions for older people.

* Standards are beginning to be applied in the area of homecare for older people, while the Hospice Friendly Hospital movement has established where end-of-life care needs to be improved and has regularly supported and monitored progress on this issue.

* The report recommends that collaboration and continuous scrutiny are necessary to continue quality across a range of services.

Public-sector reform

Prof John Seddon, a British expert on regulating public services and keynote speaker at the conference said: “The greatest lesson from UK public sector reform has been the damage caused by ill-conceived regulation; intended to make services better, it actually made services worse.

“The National Economic and Social Council is carving out new ground for regulation that is better fitted to purpose.”

The NESC was established in 1973. Its function is to analyse and report to the Taoiseach on strategic issues relating to the efficient development of the economy, the achievement of social justice, the development of a strategic framework for the conduct of relations and the negotiation of agreements between the Government and the social partners.

The council is chaired by the secretary general of the Department of the Taoiseach.