The long awaited Report of the Christie Commission makes for interesting reading this week.
While there has been some criticism of its avoidance of trickier issues – most notably public sector job cuts – it has not shied away from setting out a radical vision for Scotland’s future.
Not only does the Commission conclude that such a vision is achievable, it makes no bones about the alternative – a very bleak future indeed, particularly for the two million people who live with long term conditions.
The report makes a compelling plea for a radical shift towards new approaches to delivering public services, backed up by greater transparency, accountability and legislation. It calls for us to build on models, such as the Self Management Fund, that harness and value the assets of individuals and communities. These approaches are based on co-production, prevention and a holistic approach that supports human rights and achieves better, personalised, outcomes.
The forthcoming financial challenges to public services means an obligation to work smarter; to find more productive ways forward; to redesign services; to form new efficient partnerships; and to keep improving where we can. The third sector must be an equal partner in delivering those shared ambitions at national and local levels. At the heart of these activities, we need a coherent and connected approach across the Scottish public sector – part about infrastructure, part about cultural alignment and wholly about person-centredness. An approach that views individuals and communities as being at the heart of solutions, rather than as problems and ensuring that, in the words of the report, ‘the essential authority of people and their communities is acknowledged’.
As a society we now stand at arguably the most significant cross roads since the referendum on Scottish devolution. The enormity of the challenges we face is beyond doubt. The question is whether we bury our collective heads in the sand or take up the call to action represented by the Christie Commission report. This is not a time for small thinking and I hope that in considering the report our politicians, and others, remember the words of Edwin Morgan on the establishment of devolution:
- What do people want of the place? They want it to be as open and adventurous as its architecture.
- A nest of fearties is what they do not want.
- A symposium of procrastinators is what they do not want.
- A phalanx of forelock-tuggers is what they do not want.