10th May 2017

So what’s with Purdah and where is it anyway?

As we enter election time what is Purdah and how does it affect the CQC and what they publish?

You really should know something but you just don’t

As a young civil servant I remember ‘Purdah’ being mentioned. “So of course we will be entering Purdah…”. You know that utter blank feeling you feel when you really should know something but you really don’t? Looking up at the senior Civil Servant, I thought “Please Abi! Have the courage to ask what it is, don’t nod your head and look like you know”. So I nodded my head vigorously, in a ‘yes I know’ kind of a way.

But I didn’t know did I? and like that name of a person that has escaped you that little too long, it was then too late for me to say I didn’t know.

Purdah isn’t a person

So… Purdah isn’t a person. Fancy that! Or a function room or a fancy place far away…

Purdah, when used at election time, is the pre-election period in which any information from a government-funded body which may in any way influence which way the public will vote, is halted until the election is over. The Cabinet office release information on what is expected of civil servants, and as CQC although not civil service, is an arm’s length body also referred to as a non-departmental public body, it uses public money – so rules apply.

Where does the word come from?

Purdah is a very ancient word, and it has a much deeper meaning within religious groups.  According to Encyclopedia online,’ Purdah literally means curtain or veil, and refers to the various modes of shielding women from the sight primarily of men (other than their husbands or men of their natal family) in the South Asian subcontinent…’

You can see in this very physical illustration the notion of protecting and shielding.

What does this mean for the CQC?

The Care Quality Commission have placed an explanatory page on their website which can be found here.

I like to think of the pre-election period as all regulation frozen like Sleeping Beauty’s palace, people slumbering over their desks or at coffee machines until the harsh voice of the general election results acts as a wake-up call…

In fact, it means to respect the pre-election period up until after 8th June 2017, they will not be publishing new ‘National Reports’ but will continue with business as usual, so inspections and inspection reports will go ahead.

Hang on – what about the results for ‘Next Steps Consultation’

Indeed! We are waiting at the moment to see what will happen with our consultation responses for ‘Next Steps’ due ‘in the spring’. This is national information, and so the results are delayed until after the election. So we can all stand down until then.

I’m not sure about it all

I am not entirely sure we require that ‘shield’ or that it makes much difference to how we will vote. Is it not just delaying the inevitable? I cannot see ‘the Next Phase’ being binned whoever gets in. But it does give everyone a slight breather, and if anyone is behind with their part in producing the consultation report or next part of the consultation within CQC I can bet they are thanking their lucky stars!

Passports not needed

So hopefully we are now all clear(ish), unfortunately now I know I certainly won’t need to be packing my sun cream, floppy hat and bags for an exotic holiday when I am told we need to enter ‘Purdah’.

*All information is correct at the time of publishing

Abi Spence

Registration and Inspection Specialist

Abi has worked for and with Government agencies relevant to social care for the past 12+ years. Primarily with the Department of Health, Social Services Inspectorate, Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) and since its inception the Care Quality Commission (CQC). As part of this long involvement Abi has developed a wide and detailed understanding of relevant issues and has worked closely with stakeholders such as people that use services, carers, providers, local government, the Department of Health, Ofsted and the Audit Commission. Read more

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