Providing Quality in the Public Sector: A Practical Approach to Improving Public Services

Providing Quality in the Public Sector: A Practical Approach to Improving Public Services

Providing Quality in the Public Sector: A Practical Approach to Improving Public Services

Providing Quality in the Public Sector: A Practical Approach to Improving Public Services

Synopsis

This book argues that if public services are to be 'reformed' or 'improved', achieving the best possible quality of service is essential.

It starts from the premise that citizens and users are the key 'stakeholders'. They need to be consulted and involved at every stage. Within inevitable resource constraints, it is their needs, balanced with those of society, which must be met. Service providers need to change their culture and behaviour to make this happen.

This book presents a straightforward and comprehensive model for understanding quality and putting it into practice. Existing quality philosophies and approaches are examined. Overviews of recent policy on quality in central and local government, in the health service, and in public service partnerships are included. Finally, five practitioners present practical 'vignettes' of citizen involvement, local partnerships, and quality improvement in health, housing and local government.

Providing Quality in the Public Sector is essential reading for students and practitioners in the fields of public policy, local government, health, housing and the voluntary sector.

Excerpt

Although we would reject any claim that — unlike many books written about 'quality' — this is a 'missionary' book, we do unashamedly declare that we — and all our contributors — have a missionary zeal to make public services better. We have been infected with this for many years, as service users, practitioners and academics, and both of us have written about it in the past.

Now we have come together to try to present a rounded and comprehensive picture of what 'quality' could be like and, in our practical examples, what it is like. From our own experience of teaching and working with students and practitioners, we think that this mixture of theory and practice could help to disentangle the threads and make the idea and the practice of 'quality' less daunting and more mainstream. However, we certainly do not claim to have the 'answers' and this is no handbook or 'how to do it' manual.

We are extremely anxious that ideas about quality are not subsumed within vague talk of 'modernization'. Of course it is helpful to have a government that says it is committed to the public services, but it does not say what it means by 'quality'. We see our book as quite separate from, and independent of, discussion about who should be delivering public services and how many resources should be devoted to them. For us, like everyone connected with public services, these issues are of course important. But it is only if real efforts are made from within, to improve the overall quality of services in the long term, that we think any real differences for the public will become visible and tangible. There — we are missionaries!

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