The reasons given for handing out tax payers money in this way are quite frankly an insult to our intelligence. The money is claimed to be for "expenses". This may seem reasonable at first sight, but if this was the case why were "expenses" not offered to everyone who attended. My colleague had a 100 mile round trip to attend the meeting while supposed to be on leave. Then there is the irony. Blood donors in the UK receive no payment. They are expected to give blood as a public service. In fact, the argument is made that offering money would attract the wrong type of person whose blood might be tainted and impure. So, a pint of blood is worth less if it is paid for but an opinion on the future of the NHS is worth £75.
Why was the money handed out at the end of the meeting if it was "for expenses"? A cynic might suggest that the payment of expenses was contingent on a "satisfactory" outcome.
The Department of Health spokesperson said the money had to be paid in cash because not everyone would have a bank account. It was, in fact, this government which stopped pension and benefit payments in cash. This lead to the closure of thousands of Post Offices. This was done to reduce fraud. We can all work out for ourselves why payment was made in cash. The recipients will be untraceable if someone should question who they were and how they were selected. It won't be detectable if the same people turn up at every meeting. Conveniently the money will also be untaxable
There was an explanation for the sealed envelope too. The spokesman said it would have been difficult to handle the loose £50 and £20 notes. That is true enough but why were the NHS staff asked to leave before they were handed out? Did someone have something to hide?
The rules under which doctors deal with drug companies strictly control inducements and gratuities. If a drug company offered doctors £75 in an envelope at the end of a sponsored meeting it would find itself in breach of the Pharmaceutical Industries Code of Practice and the doctor may well have to face a GMC investigation. It is not unreasonable to expect the same standard of behavior from the politicians who write the rules.
Don't forget. Prof., Sir, Lord, Your Worship, Dr., Mr., His Majesty Ara Darzi is doing a webchat on Thursday. Go onto the Downing St website and ask him if he is happy with medical staff representation at the Citizens Juries bearing in mind that they were given as little as 24 hours notice to attend. They are taking questions now. Make them realize we do not believe this is "consultation".