Who governs the governors?

Who governs the governors?

I am sure we have all been shocked by the recent revelations about the UK Care Quality Commission – a cover up has been alleged over a damning report into baby deaths being deleted.  Those involved have today been named and one name is that of the media manager.

What is particularly upsetting is that the CQC is a body that many of us rely on when making important decisions about care. My father spent his last years in a home and we had relied heavily on CQC reports when short listing potential places for him. (Although the home we chose was selected on recommendation.) Would I rely on their guidance again? No.  Would I rely on recommendations from friends and family? Yes.

When we teach PR and the way that it is evolving, we often talk about new models of authority and there is an assumption that this is being driven by social media.  Actually, it is also being driven by the traditional models of authority themselves who time and again show they can’t be trusted. Social media simply makes that more visible and gives us new ways to network with people that we believe we can trust.

Take Leveson.  The eventual answer to the problems the enquiry exposed was to create a chartered body.  In the recent PR Week debate about the reputation of PR, Peter Walker, Pielle Consulting senior consultant, said of the CIPR: "Does it really take seriously its role as the arbiter of professional practice standards as a chartered body? Government sees a royal charter-based body as the answer to Leveson but is the Privy Council equipped to regulate the bodies it endows with a royal charter?” 

I had asked myself the same question a while back, so had rung the Privy Council to ask how chartered bodies are held to account – what do you do if you believe that an organisation is in breach of its charter, where is the mechanism to raise a concern? Now admittedly, I only talked to the chap who answered the phone but he seemed pretty knowledgeable.  Basically he said that there was none.  And their website is pretty silent on the subject. So who governs the governors?

Governance is a bit of a dull and worthy word. But without it conflicts of interest are rife (see my recent blog on that topic) and just look at how an absence destroys trust and with it reputation.