At a recent Associates’ day we posed a question about public sector reform and one of the issues the debate revealed was about the language we use and how it influences how we think. For example when people are in “public-service-receiving” mode they are often referred to by a variety of terms including clients, patients, service-users, service-recipients, customers etc. We posed the question of how to create services centred on citizens instead – and the simple use of the citizen word/concept caused a dramatically different view to emerge. Now we started talking about people with rights and responsibilities, with lots of spin-offs for the organisation of public services. Just as one example, a citizen-centred view of public services would challenge radically how each and every public service holds and handles different information on us [I’m a citizen too]! It’s MY information. So why do I have an NHS number for the NHS, a National Insurance number as a worker, a driving license number as a road user, etc. – but as a citizen I have a passport.

What do you think?