DH:  Patient Care & Comfort, not institutional convenience  - Particularly vulnerable people who lack capacity to make their own decisions - this may include people who suffer from dementia, Alzheimer's disease, brain injury or a very severe learning disability - will be supported & represented by a new Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA).


Decision makers’ in the NHS & in local authorities (e.g. doctors & social workers) will have a duty to consult the IMCA for the most vulnerable - those who have no family or friends to be consulted - in relation to decisions about:

·         serious medical treatment;

·         moves arranged by the NHS or local authorities, for example to a hospital or care home


The scheme was introduced under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 & implementation is planned for April 2007.


Local authorities will be the commissioners responsible, in partnership with PCTs, for providing the IMCA service and the Government wants them to have the flexibility to extend the IMCA service within the resources available, to other groups and situations.

Press release ~ Responses to Consultation ~ DH – Social Care ~ About the Mental Capacity Act 2005 ~ Mental Capacity Act 2005 ~ Previous consultation (closed on 30 September) ~ Advocacy Matters ~ Advocacy Partners ~ Cambridge House Advocacy ~ Dorset Advocacy ~ POhWER ~ Speaking Up


DH / HC:  Give them dignity – you will be old at some point – The government is asking health & social care watchdogs to put older people's dignity at the centre of their investigations, following the publication of the second phase of the Government's 10-year plan to improve services for older people.


As part of his plans Professor Philp will work with the Chief Nursing Officer, who has issued a report (See General reports) addressing the role mental health nurses can play in improving dignity in care for older people. 


They also plan to rejuvenate the Older People's Champions Network, which is intended to help root out age discrimination in the NHS and act as a change agent to ensure older people are treated with respect for their dignity & human rights.

DH press release ~ HC press release ~ A new ambition for old age: Next steps in implementing the National Service Framework for Older People ~ A new ambition for old age: Next steps in implementing the National Service Framework for Older People: A resource document ~ National Service Framework for Older People ~ Better Health in Old Age (Progress report and Resource document) ~ Health and Social Care System ~ Help the Aged ~ Care Services Improvement Partnership ~ Healthcare Commission ~ Commission for Social Care Inspection


DfES:  Blair makes bid for world leadership - Prime Minister Tony Blair has unveiled two five-year initiatives which he claims will help to secure the UK's position as a leader in international education:

·         The second phase of the Prime Minister's Initiative for International Education (PMI), which aims to attract an additional 100,000 overseas students to study in the UK and encourage partnerships between universities & colleges in the UK & overseas; and

·         The UK-India Education Research Initiative (UKIERI) to improve educational & research links between India and the UK.


Both programmes are backed up with over £27 million in funding over the next two years from Government, the British Council, the education sector and businesses.  £3 million is earmarked for UK/Africa partnership initiatives, £2 million for UK/Russia partnerships and £4 million for UK/China for scholarships and other partnerships - as well as £7.5 million for the UK/India Education & Research Initiative.


International students contribute approximately £5 billion a year to the UK economy.

Press release ~ Prime Minister's Initiative on International Education (PMI) ~ UK-India Education Research Initiative (UKIERI) ~ Council for International Education (UKCOSA) ~ EducationUK website ~ Universities UK ~ HOST UK ~ National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC)


ODPM:  Housing goalposts moved back to original position -The Government claims to have strengthened the rules on access to council housing and homelessness assistance in England for persons from abroad.  The new amending regulations came into force on 20 April 2006 and are intended to ensure that nationals from the European Economic Area (EEA), who do not have a right to reside in the UK, are not eligible for council housing and homelessness assistance in England.


The government hopes that this will close a loophole arising from a recent Appeal Court ruling (London Borough of Barnet v Abdi and Ismail) which found that the applicants, who were both economically inactive EEA nationals, were subject to immigration control as they did not have a right to reside in the UK under European law.


This meant that, contrary to the understanding of the Government and local authorities, the applicants were eligible for homelessness assistance under the housing rules, which apply to persons subject to immigration control.


The new regulations mean that the position will be as intended by the Government when it introduced measures to strengthen the rules in May 2004 and will help ensure that people cannot come to the UK simply to claim assistance from the welfare system.

Press release ~ European Economic Area (EEA) ~ EEA countries ~ London Borough of Barnet v Abdi and Ismail ~ EU accession: Eligibility for housing allocation and homelessness assistance ~ Asylum Seekers and Housing


Home Office:  A budget & plan does not a working computer system make - A £367m plan to develop a national police database that will link up police information across England & Wales has been finalised by the Home Office.


The IMPACT Programme is intended to provide investigating officers with a single point of enquiry & access to operational information held by forces anywhere in the country by:

·         further rolling out & developing the IMPACT Nominal Index (INI)

·         standardising the  national data format & providing direct access to information through IMPACT CRISP (Cross Regional Information Sharing Project)

·         providing common standards for police information management through the Code of Practice on the Management of Police Information & its associated guidance and

·         setting up a Police National Database, linking information held on both local & national systems including replacing the Police National Computer, by 2010

Press release ~ IMPACT Partner Elements ~ IMPACT - Parts of programme ~ Code of Practice on the Management of Police Information ~ Criminal Justice Information Technology (CJIT) ~ CJS Exchange ~ Police Information Technology Organisation (PITO) ~ National Identification Service ~ Bichard Inquiry Recommendations Implementation Programme


FCO:  They are ‘thinking’ ahead this time - A dedicated website, mobile phone text alerts, a desktop news service and mobile internet travel advice are just four of the new initiatives of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s (FCO) 'Avoiding Penalties' campaign.  Created as part of the FCO's Know Before You Go campaign, it is a combination of proactive communication to fans before & during the tournament, on-the-ground support which will be delivered as needed, and behind-the-scenes activity taking place within the FCO, including a full crisis simulation.

'Avoiding Penalties' campaign initiatives include:

·         Downloadable desktop news service – since February this year and up until the end of the tournament, fans can download a 'Skinker' to their desktop.

·         World Cup website – as well as regularly updated advice and information on the FCO website, the British Embassy in Berlin has created its own dedicated site, which includes information on the host cities, news, FAQs and a glossary of German football terms.

·         FSF Free Lions Guide – Nationwide and Football Supporters Federation Free Lions guide with advice, information and do's & don'ts for those planning to go to the event.  Available at local Nationwide branches.

·         Avoiding Penalties info-card – A credit-card sized fold-out information pack, full of useful information including key advice for fans, local map and emergency contact numbers.  Distribution points include the UK Police, all World Cup departure airports and with all England World Cup match tickets.

·         FSF/T-Mobile text alert service - The FSF have teamed up with T-Mobile to provide up to date emergency information & advice via text messages to their mobile phones.  Just text ENGLAND to 07951 444444.

·         Mobile internet travel adviceTo receive the guide text SOS WorldCup to 60999.

·         Emergency hotline – For fans who do get themselves in trouble or need advice whilst in Germany, the World Cup Consular Hotline will be in operation 24 hours a day for the duration of the tournament on 0049 (0)1805 072006.  There is also a dedicated Consular line based in the UK0049 (0) 7008 8765.

Press release ~ FCO ‘Know before you go campaign’  ~ Support for British Nationals Abroad: a Guide ~ Summary version


Forthcoming Event:  Socitm reveals whether technology benefits are Myth or Reality - The ODPM has confirmed that its goal of getting 100% of local authority services online was largely reached, on time, by the end of 2005.  But how effective are these new electronic services and will the promised ROI actually be realised?  


Come & hear a uniquely qualified set of speakers address this and other issues at this year's Socitm Spring Seminar – this Thursday 27 April at the Reebok Stadium, Bolton, BL6 6JW.


The presentations include:

·         The technology promise: myth or reality?  - Sara Coburn - Professional presenter & chair of Spring Seminar

·         Identity - the RFID panacea?  - Roger Lamb - Business Applications Manager, RFID Technology Centre

·         Using mobile technologies to get the benefits of location-independent working - Simon Norbury, Head of Information Services, Westminster City Council

·         What's that got to do with IT?  -  Alex Black, Assistant Programme Manager, NWEGG Partnership

·         Adding value through collaboration, partnership and sharing services - Crispin O'Connell, Chief ICT Officer, Cardiff City Council

General News

CIOB:  Manchester Business School Worldwide (MBSW), the distance-learning arm of Manchester Business School, has launched the competition for scholarships to the School’s MBA for Construction Executives.  The scholarships are for entry to the course in July 2006 and initial applications must be in by 31 May 2006.


The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), in partnership with MBSW, are each offering a 50% scholarship to a chartered member for entry to the business school’s unique MBA.

Press release ~ Scholarship competition paper ~ Manchester Business School Worldwide (MBSW) ~ Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) ~ CITB-ConstructionSkills ~ Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) ~ RIBA Practice ~ Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)


MoD:  Under Secretary of State for Defence, Don Touhig MP has announced that the MoD has removed ‘Agency status’ from the three Armed Forces training agencies to ‘streamline the training regime’.  The three Agencies - the Naval Recruiting and Training Agency (NRTA), the Army Recruiting and Training Agency (ATRA) and the RAF Training Group Defence Agency (TGDA) - have now become an integral part of their respective Service.


In 2001 the Defence Training Review (DTR) identified significant benefits that could be achieved by providing specialist training on a tri-Service rather than single-Service basis.  There will evidently be no job losses or redundancies among the 4,000 (NRTA), 10,300 (ATRA) and 6,000 (TGDA) personnel.

Press release ~ Defence Training Review (DTR) ~ DTR Information Sheets (1.7Mb) ~ Naval Recruiting and Training Agency (NRTA) ~ RAF Training Group Defence Agency (TGDA)


MoD:  The new UK Special Forces Support Group (SFSG) has been formed in St Athan, near Cardiff.  Their roles may include provision of supporting or diversionary attacks, cordons, fire support, force protection and supporting training tasks.


The selection of individuals to the SFSG has been made from the Parachute Regiment, the Royal Marines, and the RAF Regiment.  Members of the SFSG will retain the cap badges of their parent units and will also wear the SFSG insignia below:



All individuals within this specialist group have passed either the Royal Marines Commando course, the Airborne Forces Selection course run by the Parachute Regiment or the RAF Pre-Parachute Selection course.  Each of these selection courses involves arduous physical selection and high quality infantry training.


Media reporting of all Special Forces operations, sources & methods and the identities, whereabouts & tasks of individuals working in the Special Forces are also specifically covered by the Defence Advisory Notice system.

Press release ~ MoD Special Forces ~ UK Special Forces ~ Special Forces Reserve ~ D-notice


 MCA:  Alistair Darling has welcomed the launch of the UK's Maritime Incident Response Group (MIRG), the first specialised fire & rescue service for dealing with incidents at sea.  MIRG will form an integral part of the United Kingdom's search & rescue response and it will also have the air-borne capacity to react to incidents anywhere in the country, not just at sea.


MIRG comprises 15 Fire & Rescue Service (FRS) teams strategically located around the country, with about 50 fire fighters in each team.  Each team has been specially trained to tackle fire in the marine environment and is equipped with the lighter, more compact equipment required when travelling by helicopter to the scene of an incident. The teams will not only fight fires but also deal with chemical hazards and free trapped personnel.


Each team will be reinforced with paramedics who will also be trained in the unique conditions that they will face.

Press release ~ Maritime Incident Response Group (MIRG) ~ Background article ~ Operational response – tasking to incidents at sea ~ Sea of Change project ~ Contacts

Policy Statements and Initiatives

ODPM:  The government has announced a review of the institutional structure for delivery of the Government's housing and regeneration programmes.  The Review is expected to report to Ministers in July, with decisions to be announced during the summer.


It will consider the best way of organising national delivery mechanisms to maximise the use of private investment, public subsidy & land holdings and assets funded by past public investment, to support the:

·         delivery of new homes

·         improvement of existing homes and

·         creation of mixed sustainable communities

Press release ~ English Partnerships ~ Housing Corporation ~ Neighbourhood renewal ~ Sustainable Communities and Housing


DCMS:  Minister for Sport, Richard Caborn has launched a 10-point plan to tackle sports betting cheats at the first ever anti-cheating summit.  The recent Integrity in Sports Betting Conference, hosted by the RFU at Twickenham, saw all the major sports sign up to a Code of Practice that is intended to increase levels of co-operation between authorities, the industry & sport.


The Gambling Act, which ‘modernises’ the UK's gambling laws and is designed to protect the vulnerable and keep gambling fair & crime free, comes into force in September 2007.  It introduces a more comprehensive definition of cheating, with a 2 year maximum jail sentence and powers for the new regulator (the Gambling Commission) to void bets where it suspects unfair practices.

Press release ~ Code of Practice ~ Gambling Act 2005 ~ DCMS – Gambling and Racing website ~ Gambling Commission ~ GAMCARE ~ Responsibility in Gambling Trust ~ Gamblers Anonymous


Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

DH:  A new guide which explains how to pay & reimburse people involved in service improvement activities has been launched by Liam Byrne, Minister for Care Services.


Every year hundreds of people contribute their time & expertise to help improve health & social care services and people who become involved should be reimbursed their expenses and there may also be circumstances when volunteers deserve payment for their contribution.


The guide also explains the implication of receiving payment or reimbursement for benefits, employment law & tax.

Press release ~ Reward and Recognition guide ~ Care Services Improvement Partnership ~ Commission for Patient & Public Involvement in Health

Annual Reports

HSE:  The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published its offshore health & safety statistics for 2004/05, which provides further details on the 'headline' figures that were posted on HSE's website in August 2005 and contains full provisional injury & incident statistics for the year 1 April 2004 to 31 March 2005.


The report contains graphs plotting injury rates since 1995/96 and tables breaking down injuries by type; part of body injured; age of injured person, etc, plus cases of ill health reported since 1998/99.  Details of reported dangerous occurrences are also given.

Press release ~ Offshore injury, ill health and incident statistics report 2004/05 (Provisional data) ~ Offshore Safety bulletin ~ Offshore Installations (Safety Case) Regulations 2005 SI No 205/3117 ~ Transitional arrangements ~ HSE information sheet ~ Step Change in Safety ~ HSE Offshore website ~ Offshore Safety Climate Assessment Safety Climate Assessment Toolkit


DfT:  The Department for Transport has published the 2005 National Road Maintenance Condition Survey (NRMCS) report, which presents information on both the surface condition and structural condition of roads.


Surface condition is measured using a visual survey of defects and machine based surveys of wet road skidding resistance, while the structural survey uses a machine to measure the deflection of a road under a standard load.

Press release ~ Key results ~ Full report (1.6Mb) ~ DTI Road Network website

General Reports and other publications

DH:  A major review of mental health nursing - From Values to Action - has been published by Health Minister Rosie Winterton and Chief Nursing Officer Christine Beasley.  The review recommends key actions needed for nurses to be able to improve the care of people with mental health problems, for example by providing more psychological therapies and by promoting physical wellbeing.


The review is the result of a major consultation exercise launched last year which asked the question ‘how can mental health nursing best contribute to the care of service users in the future?’


In particular, it sought views as to how mental health nurses should contribute to a wide range of issues including:

·         Services for people from black & ethnic minority groups

·         The delivery of psychological therapies

·         Health promotion and

·         Meeting the needs of carers

Press release ~ From Values to Action: The Chief Nursing Officer’s review of mental health nursing ~ Summary version ~ Recruitment and retention of mental health nurses: Good practice guide ~ DH Mental Health website ~ Career Options in Mental Health Nursing ~ Mental Nurse ~ RCN Mental Health Zone


Defra:  An independent review of the UK's avian quarantine system by a team chaired by Nigel Dimmock, emeritus professor of virology at Warwick University last October, put forward 32 recommendations of which 29 have been accepted or accepted in principle, two require further consideration and one has been rejected.


Based on Professor Dimmock's recommendations, Defra will now:

·         Set up closer veterinary supervision and audit of quarantine by the State Veterinary Service (SVS)

·         Create a central SVS IT system of key data linked to quarantine

·         Revise guidance for the structure and equipment of quarantine facilities

·         Introduce management plans for quarantine operators

·         Write a bird welfare code for importers and quarantine operators

·         Enhance laboratory testing of quarantined birds

Press release ~ Independent Review ~ Government response ~ Avian Influenza website


FCO:  The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has welcomed a report by the Public Accounts Committee of the House of Commons on Consular services to British nationals.

Press release ~ Public Accounts Cttee. Report (1.2Mb) ~ The Foreign and Commonwealth Office - Consular Services to British Nationals: Full Report (1.7Mb) ~ Executive Summary ~ Addendum to National Audit Office Report on Consular Services ~ International Review of Consular Services (1.50Mb) ~ FCO Risk Management framework ~ FCO Travel advice by Country ~ FCO ‘Know before you go campaign’  ~ Support for British Nationals Abroad: a Guide ~ Summary version ~ Other language & related publications (scroll down)


MoD:  The Defence Committee's report into the Ministry of Defence's Annual Report and Accounts has been published and recognises that there is much of which the MoD and the Armed Forces can be proud.


The MOD, like all Government Departments, reports its past performance and future spending plans to Parliament on an annual basis.  The Annual Report and Accounts combine both the Secretary of State's account of the Department's overall performance and the Departmental Resource Accounts, for the previous year.

Press release ~ HCDC report on Ministry of Defence Annual Report and Accounts 2004-05 ~ Annual Report and Accounts 2004-05


Home Office:  The new Identity and Passport Service (IPS) claims to have 'hit the ground running', publishing plans for a major programme of anti-fraud projects which it claims will ‘transform people's ability to confirm identity and protect their personal details from criminals’.  The Agency brings together the Home Office Identity Cards Programme and the UK Passport Service into one organisation and will issue ID cards from 2008/09.


The IPS Corporate and Business Plans 2006 - 16 set out the key measures the Agency is to introduce over the next ten years, as it works to set up the National Identity Scheme at the same time as enhancing the security of the British Passport and the passport issuing process.


Also published is the IPS Framework Agreement, which sets out the accountabilities, responsibilities & corporate governance between the IPS and its parent department, the Home Office, over the next five years.

Press release ~ Identity and Passport Service (IPS) ~ Identity and Passport Service Corporate and Business Plans 2006 – 16 (1.7Mb) ~ Framework Agreement (1.5Mb) ~ National Identity Scheme ~ Identity Cards Act 2006


NAO:  An update report by the NAO identifies that the government has secured gains of £137 million from PFI debt refinancings.  £72 million of the gains arose through a voluntary code whereby private sector companies have given the public sector 30% of refinancing gains on early PFI deals which did not have contractual arrangements to share these gains.


The NAO update report also describes the emergence of the PFI secondary market which is enabling equity investors in PFI projects to sell their shares on to new investors.


The report warns that PFI refinancing may bring risks as well as benefits and recommends that the Treasury should report annually on the trends in PFI financing costs.

Press release ~ Update on PFI debt refinancing and the PFI equity market (1Mb) ~ Executive Summary ~ Darent Valley Hospital : The PFI Contract in operation ~ The refinancing of the Norfolk and Norwich PFI Hospital: how the deal can be viewed in the light of the refinancing ~ 4Ps website ~ Procurement pack ~ BBC news item on PFI Bankruptcy ~ Unison & PFI ~ ODPM PFI website ~ HM Treasury PFI website ~ SoPC 3 ~ NAO PFI & PPP/Privatisation Recommendations website

Legislation / Legal

Home Office:  A package of measures to change the system under which the Government pays compensation for miscarriages of justice has been announced by Home Secretary Charles Clarke.


The changes, some with immediate effect and others requiring primary legislation, aim to ‘ensure that compensation payments paid by the state are proportionate to the level of injustice experienced by applicants, bringing them more into line with amounts paid to victims of crime’ and will cap payments to a maximum of £500,000, which they claim is fully in line with international obligations.


The Government is also taking action to further limit compensation payments to applicants who have other serious criminal convictions and/or whose conduct contributed to the situation in which they found themselves.


The Home Secretary also announced a ministerial review, with the Lord Chancellor and Attorney General, to examine the test used by the Court of Appeal to quash convictions.  A full consultation will follow the review if the Government has proposals for change.

Press release ~ UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ~ Written Ministerial Statement ~ Bibliography of academic literature ~ Miscarriage of Justice Organisation (MOJO) ~ Miscarriages of Justice Organisation (Scotland) ~ Criminal Cases Review Commission (CRRC) ~ How to Appeal: a guide to the criminal justice system ~ Liberty

EU legislation, initiatives, etc.

Charity and Voluntary Sector

Business and other briefings

CCWater / Ofwat:  Frustrations expressed by business customers about delays in their efforts to switch water supplier have led the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) to urge water companies not to delay attempts by new entrants to enter the market.


Slow negotiations, existing water companies failing to meet deadlines for allowing access to their water supply systems and lack of information provided to new entrants are among some of the complaints the Council has received, so CCWater has endorsed Ofwat's warning to existing companies not to delay moves by new licensees trying to compete in the water industry in England and Wales.


Ofwat has written to all water companies making it clear that it wants to see agreements with new suppliers secured within the deadlines in its guidance on access to water supply systems and transferring customers. In some cases, progress has only been made when the regulator has intervened.

CCWater press release ~ Ofwat press release ~ Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) ~ Ofwat's letter to all managing directors of appointed water companies ~ How Can I Reduce my Bill?  Guide for businesses

Industry News

Forthcoming Event

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