Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Crunch time?

The last post talked about the Society of Homeopaths (SoH) and media reporting of its problems. It also discussed the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) calling an emergency in-year review of the SoH. It must be stressed that an in-year review only happens if very serious concerns have been raised about an Accredited Register.

So far, the SoH have only said things like it would be inappropriate to comment whilst the review is ongoing. But it seems to have reacted.

Members' Disccusion sessions
The SoH are having three of these over two days, each an hour long. They are being conducted using Zoom. This is odd in itself. No indication of whether they are seperate or linked.

This is highly unusual.

Members' Discussions are usually part of the SoH's Annual Conference. This years conference was cancelled and replaced by a Zoom session. The Members' Discussion was part of a later online Zoom session along with the Annual General Meeting. It is not known what was discussed during it - the SoH no longer report publicly on that sort of thing.

The SoH has made no mention of it on its Facebook page which seems to be its primary public medium at the moment. Nor has it put up a news item on its website. Just an entry on the Events section of its website. Even more unusual. The SoH would normally make a bit of a song and dance about member engagement.

Presumably, the SoH has informed members via (a) different route(s)? It has a private online forum. There's also email. It has the mobile numbers of a lot of members so text might be a way to alert some. It could always resort to calling or mailing members.

Although it is difficult to certain of the exact date that these sessions became a thing, there was no mention of them on 13/07/2020. This is after the PSA announcement of an in-year review and also after the Telegraph reporting.

Given the gravity of the SoH's current situation it is difficult not to believe that these sessions have nothing to do with PSA Accreditation and the in-year review.

Although the SoH's words aren't to be trusted at face value (they can mean very different things from the common sense meaning), if the supporting papers for the online AGM/Members' discussion back in May are to be believed, the SoH were already running a consultation on PSA Accreditation.

About what though?
It is impossible to know exactly what these sessions are about. It's unreasonable to expect rationality from the SoH - its leadership are predominantly homeopaths and their sympathisers. But whatever the sessions are about, it must be very important and something that the SoH doesn't want the public to know about (yet).

It would not be a total surprise if it turns out that the SoH are asking members to vote on whether to withdraw from the Accreditation scheme but on the other hand, such decisive action would be out of character. But there are other possibilities.

Delay and inaction are more usual but things may have reached a point where the PSA are moving very quickly and if the SoH wants to limit the damage that the in-year review could cause, it has to act quickly. That applies whether the SoH withdraws or wants to continue with Accreditation.

If the SoH are wanting members to vote or otherwise participate in an important decision on the future of the SoH, it really needs to get as many UK based members involved as possible. Using Zoom may exclude some of the more technophobic or those with no/poor quality internet connections. It's unknown whether members pay a lot of attention to emails.

Like many membership organisations, the SoH likely has a considerable number of members who don't feel very strongly about most issues, who tend not to get involved and don't make their voices heard (very often). Debates on issues can be dominated by small groups with very strong opinions. That can be offputting for many, especially when one of those groups is divisive and destructive re the organisation's goals and cohesion. When there are questions as to whether the organisation really wants that group as members.

From the outside, it looks as if the SoH leadership never had a proper mandate to pursue Accreditation in the first place. 

Because of the largely unknown nature of the sessions, it's difficult to predict what will come out of them. However, the SoH would be well advised to make a public statement reasonably quickly, especially if has made any concrete decisions. Damage limitation is a compelling reason to. The SoH needs to avoid the situation where third parties have worked out what is going on before it informs its members and the public.

But it is largely now a matter of waiting to see what happens.

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