We’re delighted to have been selected to run Ofgem’s (the gas and electricity regulator) Consumer First Panel through to 2017. The Panel has been running for 7 previous years and has been the flagship project within Ofgem’s Consumer First initiative. It comprises eighty everyday domestic customers recruited from four locations across Britain. The panel meets regularly to discuss key issues impacting on their participation in the energy market, as well as other topics related to energy. We have been appointed to recruit this year’s panel and run the regular panel sessions, with some further panel work taking place via an… Continue reading

In March 2016 the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) held its annual conference for health professions regulators in the rather grand setting of Windsor Great Park. The theme this year was ‘Regulating for Positive Outcomes’ and it was an opportunity for regulators to take some time away from day to day operational activity and take stock. Sessions included ‘revalidating for positive outcomes’, ‘turning negatives into positives’ and ‘using data for positive outcomes’. An overarching question was – what are regulators actually for and how well are they delivering?

We were particularly struck by a presentation by Tim Walker of the General… Continue reading

Continuous engagement is, it seems, being talked about more and more and we therefore think that, as a concept, it is worth examining in more detail. As a starting point, the obvious question is: what do we mean by continuous engagement? In a forthcoming paper we have written for the Consultation Institute we described it as:

• Ongoing research and consultation rather than just engaging at critical moments.
• Engagement across multiple touchpoints.
• Ensuring that consumers, customers, citizens or patients are at the heart of an organisation’s culture and involving them at the earliest possible stage of idea development.… Continue reading

We have been following recent developments in the water sector with great interest. Regulators and representative organisations have all been actively considering what worked well in terms of customer engagement during the 2014 price review and, more importantly, what lessons can be learnt and applied to the next price review in 2019. There certainly were a lot of good things to report, not least the fact that, according to Ofwat, there were conversations with a quarter of a million people!

We attended a seminar recently convened by UK Water Industry Research (UKWIR) to brief the sector on the findings of… Continue reading

As researchers we believe (of course) in the value of independent research. Actions you take and policies you adopt may have clear objectives and intended consequences, but do you always know what the true impact is on your audiences? Internal data may not be sufficient to give you the answer and the following recent example of our work shows how wider and unintended impacts can be uncovered through careful and sensitive research.

We recently conducted a research study with doctors and employers of doctors. All the doctors who took part had been given a warning or had restrictions placed on… Continue reading

The recent Professional Standards Authority (PSA) report, Rethinking Regulation, calls for wholesale changes both to the structure of and approach to regulation of health and care in the UK. The document doesn’t pull any punches, saying: “if regulation was going to improve care, it would have done it by now.” Just a month or so later, NCVO has published a hard-hitting report saying, quite clearly, that the current regulatory regime for charities isn’t working.

Value of regulators

The PSA report puts forward Harvard professor Mark Moore’s strategic triangle, which provides a framework for regulators to conceptualise their task. The… Continue reading

As professional regulator, the General Dental Council (GDC) has a duty to encourage dental professionals to raise concerns where they have witnessed something that they believe poses a risk to patients. The Report into the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry (the ‘Francis Report’) highlighted numerous issues relating to the provision of health services, not least the fact that taking the decision to raise a concern in the workplace is often a difficult one, which may impact on health professionals’ personal and professional lives. One objective of the GDC’s response to the Francis Report was to review its guidance… Continue reading