Wired - GOV Plus welcomes back its readers from the Christmas / New Year break. This ‘bumper edition’ newsletter, in addition to covering the last week ‘in full’ as normal, also includes our editor’s pick of items published during the break period – especially consultations, the announcement of which you may have missed.  Other items can be accessed by going to the ‘Home’ page and clicking on ‘Search for Press releases’ using ‘December 2012’ as ‘Date From’ (plus 'January 2013' as 'Date to') and selecting a specific department, or ‘Any’.
PC&PE:  Does improving drug treatment, etc. require de-criminalisation? - The Home Affairs Committee has published its first report on drugs in a decade.  After a wide-ranging & in-depth inquiry lasting a year and examining all areas of UK drug policy, the Committee has called for a Royal Commission on the issue.
Whilst it supported a number of steps the Government has taken in its 2010 drug strategy, it believes more needs to be done to comprehensively address the drugs problem in the UK.  The report focuses on the need to ‘break the cycle’ of drug addiction, and highlights in particular the need for improved treatment in prisons & wider society, and for early intervention with better education & preventative work.
Press release & links ~ HO: Alcohol & Drugs ~ National Treatment agency for substance misuse ~ A Quiet Revolution: Drug Decriminalisation Policies in Practice Across the Globe ~ UK Drug Policy Commission ~ DH: Prescription drug addiction addressed ~ DH: Radical approach to drugs recovery piloted ~ WAG: Minister reiterates Welsh Government commitment to reducing drug related deaths ~ HL: New study uncovers ‘Deep Roots’ of Homelessness ~ WAG: Expansion of support for families affected by substance misuse ~ GSCC: High demand for drug, alcohol & substance misuse training to be included in Social Work Degree ~ ScotGov:  Not helped by economic depression (2nd item) ~ Interventions to reduce substance misuse among vulnerable young people (PH4) ~ Related NICE documents ~ RMI: What is substance misuse? ~ DCSF:  It is the children who pay the price 2nd item) ~ MoJ: Probation officer makes a difference ~ CPA: Tackling Problem Drug Abuse ~ Guardian: A working life: the prison drugs counsellor ~ RAPt ~ BBC: Jails inspector warns prisoners abusing prescription drugs ~ Drugscope ~ DH: Clinical Management of Drug Dependence in the Adult Prison Setting - Including Psychosocial Treatment as a Core Part ~ Know the Score ~ EMCDDA: Assistance to drug users in prison ~  TH: Reducing re-offending ~ National Treatment Agency ~ CQC: Commissioning offender care ~ HP&P: Criminal Justice
MoJEnsuring Insurance claims for car crashes are ‘real’ - New measures to bring down the number & cost of whiplash claims, including speculative & fraudulent applications have been announced.  Action has been taken after figures showed there had been a 60% rise in personal injury claims related to road accidents since 2006, despite vehicles becoming safer and a 20% reduction in the number of reported accidents over the same period.  
There were over 500,000 whiplash claims last year – and insurers estimate they add £90p.a. to the average motor insurance policy.  The consultation (closes on 8 March 2013) proposes:
* Creating new independent medical panels to improve diagnosis of whiplash injuries
* Options to allow more whiplash cases to be challenged in the small claims court
Press release ~ Reducing the number and cost of whiplash claims ~ Fake whiplash claims could soon be a thing of the past ~ ABI: No Hiding Place - Insurance Fraud Exposed ~ Phantom passengers and phoney injuries behind record rise in motor insurance fraud says the ABI ~ Transport Cttee: 5th Special Report - The Cost of motor insurance ~ 12th Report - Cost of motor insurance: follow up ~ 13th Special Report - Cost of motor insurance: follow up
NAOSaving the NHS by making it affordable - The NHS made a substantial amount of efficiency savings in 2011-12, according to a report published by the National Audit Office.  These savings will need to be sustained & built on in future years if the NHS is to generate up to £20bn of savings in the 4 years to 2014-15.

The NAO found that, understandably, the NHS has started by making the easiest savings first.  Although the savings made by NHS providers as a percentage of operating costs are increasing, it is not clear what level of savings is sustainable over time.
Press release ~ Progress in making NHS efficiency savings ~ The King's Fund responds to the National Audit Office’s report on progress in making NHS efficiency savings ~ NHS Confederation and NHS Employers comment on National Audit Office report Progress in making NHS efficiency savings ~ NHS Confed: NHS must work together to pull struggling trusts back from financial cliff edge ~ Monitor:  Good Practice must be spread to all NHS Hospital Trusts (4th item) ~ LGA - New programme to save £50 million from adult social care budgets ~ DH:  While a ‘free at the point of delivery’ NHS should be ‘sacrosanct’ that doesn’t mean ‘how it is provided’ should be ~ TKF: Hospital boards must ‘let go’ to realise benefits of service-line management ~ TKF: Productivity & Finance ~ NHS Confederation: Savings ~ Quality, Innovation, Productivity & Prevention programme
DHLet’s hope the government uses more able negotiators this time – Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt has unveiled the Government’s blueprint for changes to the GP contract.  The proposals will change the way GPs are rewarded for the care they offer.  

Instead of being rewarded extra for routine office functions like record keeping, GPs will be rewarded for steps which directly support & benefit patients. This includes better control of blood pressure & cholesterol, to prevent heart attacks & stroke and assessing patients at risk from dementia.
£ms will be switched into improving care for patients and making better use of taxpayers’ money.  The proposed changes will see £164m pounds taken away from rewarding GPs for bureaucratic tick box exercises and re-directed into actions which will directly benefit patients.  The BMA’s General Practitioners Committee & other primary care organisations now have 2 months (left) to respond to the Government’s proposals.  
Press release & links ~ Doctors’ contracts fit for the 21st century ~ Report from NHS Employers on junior doctors’ contracts ~ Review of compensation levels, incentives and the Clinical Excellence & Distinction Award schemes for NHS consultants ~ TKF: No evidence that financial incentives for GPs have improved health or reduced inequalities ~ Weak role of GPs is undermining maternity care ~ TKF: GP contracts ~ NHS Employers: Contract changes 2012/13
NHS ConfedWithout proper recuperation the benefit of treatments will be negated - Adopting 6 key principles will help the delivery of effective integrated out-of-hospital care, says a new report by the NHS Confederation and Royal College of General Practitioners

The report provides a set of principles to lay the foundations for delivering effective integrated out-of-hospital care, and offers local leaders a range of prompts, drivers & enablers to support them to effectively implement the approach.
Press release & links ~ DH: Homecare Re-ablement ~ NHS Choices: Being discharged from hospital ~ HL: Hospitals discharging homeless people onto the street ~ C&C: Hospital discharge ~ Hospital discharge record keeping standards: audit tool ~ Extra money to help people leaving hospital ~ 3m lives will be improved through hi-tech project ~ Millions of patients set to benefit from a modern NHS ~ NHS Confed: NHS risks falling behind on technology ~ Newswire – LGA:  A cheaper (but effective alternative) to personal care (2nd item) ~ Newswire – NHSConfed:  There is no point in medically ‘saving’ them if their basic care is then neglected (4th item) ~ DH: Reform of the NHS is only part of the problem facing the government, they also have to combine it with cost effective social care (2nd item)
NHS ConfedCo-ordination is the key to effective service provision - The NHS Confederation is calling on the children's & child health ministers to bring together decision-makers & leaders from children’s health services, education, social care, justice and wellbeing to agree a plan for joining up services in practice.
The demand for action comes as the NHS Confederation publishes a report on behalf of 7 leading health bodies.  Children & young people’s health and wellbeing in changing times distils the learning from 4 events attended by 380 child health specialists into recommendations which will protect & improve children’s health services while the NHS undergoes significant reform.
The report’s main recommendation is that the Government must take transformative action to address the lack of policy coordination between different government departments and national bodies.  This will smooth the path for joint working in local, regional and specialist services, now that child health services are commissioned by 8 different bodies in the new system.
Press release & links ~ Children & young people’s health & wellbeing in changing times ~ Key recommendations
EHRC:  Is it the right time to have a Bill? - Mark Hammond, CEO of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, has commented in response to the Bill of Rights Commission's report published recently.
Press release ~ EHRC ~ The Commission on a Bill of Rights’ report – A UK Bill of Rights? - The Choice Before Us ~ UK Parl.: From the Human Rights Act to a Bill of Rights
SCFirst step for 2 future Judges - The Sentencing Council is inviting current LPC & BPTC students to take part in its second mooting competition.  The competition aims to promote awareness of sentencing, the use of the sentencing guidelines, and the work of the Sentencing Council among law students.  Two winners will get mini pupillages at 25 Bedford Row Chambers and 2 Bedford Row Chambers.
Anyone interested should email us with their name, course, university/law school and email address by 14 January 2013. They will then be sent a case study to submit a plea in mitigation for the written round.
Press release & links

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