In an open letter to Stevan Breeze, chief executive of the British Standards Institute, John Seddon drew attention to ISO 9000:2000 transitioning as “the biggest rubber stamping exercise in history“:
“…Coercion maintains growth. If it were value-in-use that maintained growth would we not see continued growth in the ‘mature’ countries?
“I anticipated a fall-off of registrations with the arrival of the year 2000 revision as the Standard became even more onerous. In the summer of 2003 Quality World reported that 6,000 UK firms had formally confirmed that they would not be transitioning to ISO 9000: 2000. Of the remaining 61,000, only 16% (as of Dec 2002) had successfully transitioned. You will recall that the remaining 84% (51,250 firms) were obliged to transition before the end of 2003 or lose their ISO 9000 certification.
“On your website you declare there will be a 95 per cent conversion rate by the first quarter of 2004. How has it been possible to assess 51,250 firms in one calendar year (a rate of 200 per business day) and have all of them “pass“ without the accreditation process being utterly corrupt and/or lacking in credibility? Was this the biggest rubber-stamping exercise in history? It is said ISO 9000 might be hard to get but it is even harder to lose; it is in the interests of the certification bodies to keep their clients.”
As John Seddon explains, ISO 9000 has not been found to be helpful and is maintained by coercion in mature markets and spin in developing countries.
A similar thing is happening with personal qualifications for Clinical Chemists. Gaining the postnominal title EurClinChem attracted little interest in the UK. There are already too many titles to be paid for. Now everyone eligible is to get the letters automatically for a non-optional annual charge as European interference becomes increasingly influential. Even similarly-qualified scientists with no chemistry qualifications will be EurClinChem.
Some believe this sort of manipulation will help maintain a Consultant-led service when others in Europe are working for a cheaper, poorer service. The EC4 “equivalence of standard” is little lower than NHS Consultant posts. So the likely outcome is less qualified EurClinChems from other EU countries applying for UK posts. Such a service might still have accreditation since it may ignore serious issues that are outside its admittedly broad inspection remit. Rigid accreditation could stand in place of experienced professional leadership. Apparently, EurClinChem may be one of the measures that will help stop laboratories ending up like the Forensic Science Service and like this:
Or at least will allow the unemployed to apply for work in Europe.
Still, it’s a real poll; not as bad as what happened with the Lisbon Treaty referendum in the Republic of Ireland.