Headlines: December 16th, 1998

The Government has issued some best practice ideas for the hundreds of public service managers who are engaged in consulting users.After consistently urging all sectors of public service to consult, the Public Services Minister Peter Kilfoyle has now issued guidelines on how to do it.

He said: “The Government is promoting top quality public services, that foster partnership and are open and responsive to the people who use them.

“How to consult your users is part of the wider Better Government programme. It offers public sector organisations advice on using customer and staff consultation to improve their services. It is packed with useful examples, most of them from Charter Mark winning services.

“This makes it essential reading for any public sector organisation delivering a service direct to the public – from schools and employment agencies to hospitals and councils.

“Consultation is an effective way to ensure that services are user-focused and resources spent wisely. It helps organisations plan, prioritise and deliver better services and, if properly carried out, means that users are given a stake in the services they use.

Included in the guidance are tips such as suggesting that consultation is built into an organisation’s regular planning cycle, and that it be done early in a project, before plans are becoming fixed.

The guide also warns about consulting people and then failing to act on their views.

How to consult your users: an introduction, is available from the Service First Publications Line on 0345 223242, or on the Service First website at www.servicefirst.gov.uk.