WG Newswire: Why can’t they find a cure for NHS costs? - Suddenly health and specifically the ‘health’ of NHS finances has again become a major issue, with various organisations making their views known, including the Chief Economist of the King’s Fund, John Appleby, who recently said, when commenting on the publication of financial forecasts for NHS organisations by the Health Secretary:
"Deficits are not necessarily the product of poor financial management. Of the extra cash going into the NHS this year, the King's Fund estimates that around three quarters has been absorbed by cost pressures - especially from increased pay, clinical negligence payments and dealing with the EU working times directive. But the NHS still has to meet tough targets”.
The King's Fund has launched two new reports, which are the latest in the King's Fund's programme of work examining the new NHS Market:
How should we deal with hospital failure? Facing the challenges of the new NHS market and
Regulating Health Care: The way forward
Press release ~ How should we Deal with Hospital Failure? Facing the challenges of the new NHS market ~ Regulating Health Care: The way forward ~ An Independent Audit of the NHS under Labour (1997–2005) ~ How Much Should We Spend on the NHS?
Healthcare Commission: Meeting Targets is not enough - Following on from the previous item, the Healthcare Commission has announced that it plans to strengthen measures to penalise NHS trusts for poor financial performance and that financial performance would be given a stronger weighting under the new annual health check, which has replaced star ratings.
The Commission will assess trusts on a range of financial measures including financial planning and value for money, not just whether an organisation has broken even, as with star ratings.
DfES: The ultimate school role call - The government is going to give every school child a ‘virtual ID card’ with the setting up of a national Information Sharing Index, which is intended to help improve communications between the key professionals needed for the effective delivery of services for children & families and, when necessary, to protect children.
When Lord Laming published the report of his enquiry into the events surrounding the death of Victoria Climbié, an important finding was that information about
In 2006 there will be further development & building of the technical solution and data trials to test the accuracy of existing data sources. Testing and piloting of the index will start in 2007 with roll-out completed during 2008. Regulations and guidance will set out the detail of how the index will operate.
Healthcare Commission: Mentally counting on action - The first census of the ethnicity of people using inpatient mental health services has shown that Black African and Caribbean people are 3 times more likely to go into hospital than the general population, 44% more likely than most to be admitted under the Mental Health Act and, once in hospital, 50% more likely than average to experience seclusion or physical restraint.
The Count-Me-In mental health and ethnicity census covered almost 34,000 mental health inpatients (99% of those eligible), using services provided by all 102 eligible NHS trusts and 110 independent providers in
Health officials are particularly worried by the number of black people coming to mental health services through the criminal justice system. They urge people to seek help at an early stage so they can start to resolve issues before reaching crisis-point.
The census report makes clear that socio-economic and clinical differences between ethnic groups were not taken into account in the statistical analysis and these could affect the results.
Press release ~ Healthcare Commission Count Me In survey website ~ Mental Health Act Commission ~ National Institute for Mental Health in England (NIMHE) ~ Delivering Race Equality in Mental Health (2005) ~ DH Black and Minority Ethnic Mental Health programme website ~ Mental Health Act ~ Shift website
Countryside Agency: Lack of choice in rural areas - Only 33% of people living in villages and smaller settlements in
The government’s agenda to create more choice in service delivery is to be examined in a major new study by the Commission for Rural Communities, which will take an overview of the issues for users & providers of services and will look in more detail at choice policies for secondary schools and healthcare (patient choice). The study includes an online questionnaire
Completion date is scheduled for summer 2006, with the aim of influencing policies and their local implementation.
OFT: Young and in Debt - The OFT has joined forces with financial organisations, money advice agencies and trading standards departments to help 18 to 24 year olds choose the kind of credit that best suits their needs this Christmas by launching an interactive, web-based campaign Be choosy about credit providing advice, online budget-planners and interest calculators to help give young consumers the skills & tools they need to:
· be as choosy about how they borrow as how they shop
· compare the costs of different kinds of borrowing and keep the costs of borrowing as low as possible
· assess their ability to cope with credit repayments if they were to experience a change in their circumstances, such as losing a job.
A recent survey found that the average debt among young women has risen from £10,953 in 2003 to £14,202 in 2005, compared with take-home pay of £10,420 and £10,728. For young men debt levels have increased from £12,740 to £15,118 compared with take-home pay of £10, 349 and £10, 747.
Press release ~ Young people and their financial information needs (VLF) ~ OFT – Be choosy about credit website ~ At a credit crossroads? ~ Consumer Credit Counselling Service ~ Consumer education Alliance
Dialogue Communications: Fraudsters get the message - East Riding of Yorkshire Council has adopted Dialogue Communications’ SMS text service to try and combat the rising problems of benefit fraud. The ‘Text a Fraud’ service has been put in place at the Fraud Investigation Unit using Dialogue’s Community Text messaging service, which allows members of the general public (who wish to remain anonymous) to text their local authority when they suspect benefit fraud is being committed.
Benefit fraud has been a widespread problem in the community, but it seems adopting the new text message system is a successful strategy for the council, as the new method of reporting crime, which has been in place since April, has seen a 10% increase in referrals over the past six months and, as a result, has helped identify over £435,000 of fraudulently claimed benefit.
Andrew Hardy, Fraud Investigation Manager at the Benefit Fraud Investigations Service, said:
“We do have several lines of communication in place, such as a benefit hotline and an email system but this new SMS service has made a huge impact. We are continually looking for new ways to encourage people to report suspected fraud in confidence and this new text system is an alternative form which seems to be working.”
But all authorities face the pragmatic issues of continuous integration with proprietary systems. How can lock in be avoided and how can one utilise the best of both proprietary and Open Source? In addition what practical steps should an authority take now to safeguard its future and, given that the government is pushing Local Strategic Partnerships (See consultation section in website version of newsletter), how do you engage local SME partners?
Even if you are open to its use, where does one go to obtain an understanding of opportunities which can be enabled by Open Source and obtain direct feedback from peer organisations on their experiences. Just what are the new procurement opportunities if one decides to implement Open source?
Well one place to start should be with a conference being organised by London Connects on 6th February 2006, as the ODPM has charged the Open Source Academy project to provide such answers and this conference will report on OSA outcomes and bring independent best practice experience to the audience, enabling an authority to determine its next steps in the continuing process of development.
The Business Case (led by Birmingham City Council): Through four case studies from Local Government and Education will consider whether
Implementation (led by Bristol City Council): Four very different implementations (including the major roll out of Star Office at Bristol City Council) are evaluated, best practice identified & experiences shared.
Further details ~ Open Source Academy project ~ OSA website ~ London Connects ~ Socitm Open Source website ~ FLOSSPOLS from the University of Maastricht ~ IDABC Open Source Observatory ~ Star Office by The Register ~ OGC Open Source Report ~ UK Government policy
As this will be the last newsletter before Christmas, the staff at WGPlus would like to wish all their readers a
Happy Christmas and Best Wishes for the New Year
Publication will resume again on
Acas: Last week Acas celebrated its 30th anniversary having been formed in 1975, at the height of industrial disputes and built its reputation on resolving them. Talks often continued far into the night, fuelled by beer (at 32 pence a pint) and sandwiches (46p per pound for cheese and 14p for a large loaf).
Nowadays Acas is a very different organisation, which
concentrates on providing the advice & good practice needed to help prevent
disputes arising. In the new Acas
its mantra is 'prevention is better than cure' and its focus is on
educating, informing and training
APA: In response to the government’s announcement of a 3.4% increase in police funding for 2006/7 and 3.7% in 2007/8, the Association of Police Authorities (APA) said that it is ‘only around half the amount required to maintain current policing improvements’.
The APA estimates an average increase of 6% in police funding is needed to maintain policing services at their current level.
FSS: Our very own ‘CSI’ - The Forensic Science Service (FSS) has now become a 100% Government-owned company (GovCo). The change in status from a Trading Fund to a GovCo is intended to allow the FSS to respond with more agility to changes in the forensic science market.
The FSS provides essential forensic science services to the police as well as being a source of training, consultancy & scientific support for overseas and private sector customers. FSS scientists deal with around 130,000 cases each year, as well as attending around 1,800 crime scenes and appearing in court to give expert evidence on roughly 2,500 occasions.
DfES: Blink & you may have missed it, but Ruth Kelly announced proposals for teachers' pay ‘increases’ and further proposals for reform of teachers' pay and conditions last week. The changes, which cover the period from September 2006 to August 2008, are based on the recommendations of the School Teachers' Review Body.
What makes it more interesting is the fact that, while teachers were being offered 2.5%, in the same week MPs started to agitate for their salary to go up by 22.5%.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has agreed with the British Bankers' Association (BBA) and Building Societies Association (BSA) changes to industry practice that will hopefully help reduce the risk that cheques made payable just to a bank or building society can be intercepted by a fraudster and paid into his or her account.
and building societies have decided that from
Defra: Over £90 million is to be dished out to fund green business support services. The funding comes from Defra's Business Resource Efficiency and Waste programme, which recycles revenue generated through increases in Landfill Tax.
From April 2005 the landfill tax rate for waste will increase by at least £3 per year until a rate of £35 per tonne is reached. Currently the rate is £18.
Press release ~ Landfill Tax ~ Business Resource Efficiency and Waste (BREW) programme ~ Carbon Trust ~ Envirowise ~ NetRegs ~ National Industrial Symbiosis Programme ~ Strategic Supply Chain Group ~ Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) ~ Market Transformation Programme ~ Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts
Defra: The first
ever strategy for the horse industry in
Defra: Defra and the
Devolved Administrations of
In a joint report– Safeguarding Sea Life (which responds to 16 key recommendations made in the Review of Marine Nature Conservation) - the four administrations say they are committed to working towards clean, healthy, safe, productive, and biologically diverse oceans and seas.
The response also affirms the
Press release ~ Report & related documents ~ Marine Bill ~ Our coasts and seas - making space for people, industry and wildlife (3Mb) ~ Maritime State of Nature Report for England: getting onto an even keel (3.7Mb) ~ Our coasts and seas - A 21st Century agenda for their recovery, conservation and sustainable use ~ Marine Health Check 2005 (2.4Mb) ~ WWF Marine Act Campaign ~ WWF web pages on UK Marine and coastal ecosystems
Welsh Assembly Government: The Welsh Assembly Government claims to have the vision of childcare as part of the modern welfare state, available to all parents who need it. Childcare delivered by qualified professionals, dedicated to serving the development needs of the children in their care.
In 2004 the Assembly formed a new Childcare Working Group which after discussion provided a substantial report with 77 recommendations, which underlie the latest strategy, Childcare Is For Children.
Home Office: Victims Minister Fiona Mactaggart has announced proposals for reforms to ‘improve’ services for victims of crime, including changes to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme, in a consultation document (closes 1 March 2006) called Rebuilding Lives - Supporting Victims of Crime.
The outlined plans include some proposals for practical help, but the sting in the tail is the removal of any entitlement to compensation for tens of thousands of victims, who currently receive minor payments of up to £5,000 each.
It may also leave local police authorities having to find millions of pounds worth of additional funding according to the APA.
Home Office press release ~ APA press release ~ Consultation
- Rebuilding Lives - Supporting Victims
of Crime ~
Home Office: Home
Office Minister Fiona Mactaggart has set out government proposals to reform the
law on bribery at home and abroad with the publication of a consultation
The proposals set out a number of options, including creating three new criminal offences of corruptly conferring an advantage, corruptly obtaining an advantage and performing functions corruptly; and separating bribery & corruption offences depending on whether the attempt is to bribe or corrupt an individual in the public or private sector.
The proposals also seek views on whether to give the
Serious Fraud Office (SFO) powers to investigate earlier when bribery by
Press release ~
Government Minister, Phil Woolas, has launched a consultation (closes
The consultation positions Local Strategic Partnerships (LSPs) as central to the delivery of effective Local Area Agreements, the development of strong local leadership and devolved decision-making and a key driver of community engagement
Press release ~ Consultation - 'Local Strategic Partnerships - Shaping their future' ~ Sir John Egan's Review, 'Skills for Sustainable Communities' ~ Local Strategic Partnerships (LSPs) ~ Local Area Agreements ~ ODPM Sustainable Communities website ~ Neighbourhood Renewal Funding (NRF)
DCMS: The Government has published the interim report of an independent panel that has been set up to consider whether new licensing fees are set at the right level.
UVAC: Following a successful conference, the University Vocational Awards Council (UVAC) has launched seven new publications. Five on various aspects of ‘advanced apprentices’ and the remaining two covering Learner Progression into Higher Education and Integrating Work Based Learning into Higher Education: A Guide to Good Practice - all 7 are available on their website.
DfES: Schools Minister Andrew Adonis has launched the School Councils' Toolkit for primary teachers and the handbook for primary pupils. The materials, funded by the DfES Innovation Unit and produced by School Councils UK, will offer advice & techniques to help primary teachers and pupils make their councils ‘as effective as possible’.
DfT: The Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC) has published its Annual Report 2004-2005. The Committee provides independent advice to the Secretary of State for Transport on the transport needs of disabled people. Until April 2005, it also advised on disabled people's needs in the built environment, but that responsibility has now been moved to the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE).
Ofwat: Ofwat has published an independent report into how best to tackle sewage overflows into the Thames Tideway. The Jacobs Babtie study, commissioned by the water regulator and part funded by Thames Water, reviewed the work done by the Thames Tideway Strategic Study with a view to identifying economic solutions available to deal with a significant proportion of water quality problems caused by intermittent storm discharges.
It found that there was scope for alternatives to the preferred solution of a 35km storage and transfer tunnel, which could offer significantly reduced costs in return for some reduction in benefits, and these needed to be further examined.
To pay for the full tunnel project - at a capital cost of £1.7 billion - Thames Water estimates that customers' bills would need to increase, on average, by at least £40-45 in real terms by 2020.
DWP: New research published by the Department for Work and Pensions examines the transitions that people aged 50 to state pension age make between 4 states:
· inactivity with some desire to work and
· inactivity with no desire to work.
DWP: New research published by the Department for Work and Pensions looks at the effects on Jobcentre Plus activity, staff behaviour, customers, employers and providers, in seven pilot Districts of trialling the new target, based on measuring all off-flows from benefit in to work, between January and July 2005.
The main findings support the recommendation to implement a Job Outcome Target (JOT) nationally from April 2006, in place of the current Job Entry performance measure (which only captures outcomes which are the result of a direct intervention by Jobcentre Plus staff).
Cabinet Office: According to claims from the government, lecturers & tutors in something called ‘further eduction’ will spend more time teaching and less time form-filling under new proposals to cut the amount of bureaucracy they face.
Reducing Burdens in Colleges of Further Education brings together the main findings of workshops held with FE frontline staff on the unnecessary bureaucratic burdens they faced as a result of:
· excessive, uncoordinated data demands flowing from audit, monitoring and inspection requirements
· ineffective communication and joint-working, between FE colleges and key FE stakeholder organisations .
Press release ~ Reducing Burdens in Colleges of Further Education ~ Bureaucracy Reduction Group ~ Better Regulation Executive ~ Department for Education & Skills (DfES) ~ Learning & Skills Council (LSC)
ODPM: The third of a series of reports from the Survey of English Housing (SEH) for 2003-04 – Social Renters and Private Renters - has been released.
DH: Around 80% of women are pleased with the care they get when they have a baby, according to a Department of Health maternity services survey. Other key findings show that women highly rate the professionalism of staff and that post natal services are widely accessed and appreciated.
Press release ~ Access to maternity services research report ~ NSF for children young people and maternity services ~ Royal College of Midwives ~ Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists ~ Maternity Standard of the NSF
NAO: The Department for Transport is likely
to meet its target of achieving 12% growth in bus & light rail use in
This is the
key finding of a joint study published by the National Audit Office (NAO) and
the Audit Commission, which examines whether the delivery chains for bus
The report identifies the steps that can be taken by the government and local authorities to improve bus services and attract more people onto buses.
DCA: New measures to ensure that defendants, who have frozen assets, pay their own legal costs rather than relying on the taxpayer to pick up the bill were have been published and are expected to save around £3 million a year from the legal aid budget.
The regulations will ensure that the assets can only be used to fund a reasonable defence, not to fund proceedings that extend and frustrate the legal process by spending all the assets on legal fees.
of Crime Act 2002 (Legal Expenses in Civil Recovery Proceedings) Regulations
2005 set out the scheme through which frozen assets can be released to pay for
reasonable legal expenses. They come into force on
Defra: Defra and the Rural Development Service (RDS) have invited a wide range of farmers - including large and small businesses from the arable, livestock, horticulture and mixed farming sectors - to workshops on proposed changes to the Nitrate Vulnerable Zones(NZV) Action Programme regulations.
Under the Nitrates Directive, the NVZ Action Programme must be reviewed at least every four years. There are indications that existing measures are not providing effective protection of waters from nitrate pollution and need to be tightened. Defra is in discussion with the European Commission about the form revised measures might take, and comments from the farmers' workshops will be fed into those discussions.
As discussions with farmers and the Commission progress, and potential changes become clearer, Defra will issue a further statement. Formal consultation on the measures will take place in February 2006.
Press release ~ Defra Nitrates website ~ <
SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 12pt; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New
Roman'">EC Nitrate Directive
(91/676/EEC) ~ Rural Development Service (RDS) ~ Associated reports &
Charity Commission: Criminal hackers have broken through the online security systems of a Christian charity and stolen personal details of their donors. In some cases, they have used these details to contact benefactors directly to try and extract more money.
It's too early to know how much the hackers may have stolen from unsuspecting members of the public who support Aid to the Church in Need, but the charity knows that the addresses of over 2,000 online donors have been accessed. The charity acted swiftly to shut down its website, warned benefactors and reported the breach of security to the police.
The Charity Commission is asking charities to send in their suggestions
for change, as part of its 'simplification' programme to reduce the
burden of unnecessary rules and regulations on charities. Those affected by the charity regulatory
framework are asked to let the Commission have their suggestions via the
dedicated e-mail address: email@example.com <
DWP: New scheme funding regulations for defined benefit occupational pension
schemes will replace the Minimum
Funding Requirement (MFR) from
The new regulations are intended to ensure that scheme members are kept updated about their scheme's financial position and will also require trustees to have recovery plans in place to address any funding shortfalls as well as obtain regular actuarial valuations and have a clear statement of funding principles.
The Regulations will be accompanied by a code of practice for trustees on funding defined benefits, which will be available on the Pensions Regulator's website this week.
HMRC: VAT Business Brief 23/05
· Pre-Budget Report 2005 - VAT & Property Developments
· VAT Exemption for Insurance-related Services
· Reduced rate of VAT on the installation of wood-fuelled boilers
· Climate change levy: Extended eligibility for climate change agreements with energy intensive sectors
· Gaming machines
HMRC: VAT Business Brief 24/05
· Excise duties: reducing costs and administrative burdens for business
HSE: "Managing employees' health and wellbeing can make a big difference to organisations' productivity and efficiency" was the message given out recently by Jonathan Rees, of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), in his recent speech at The 2nd Annual Efficiency Delivery Conference - Putting Policy into Practice.
A year ago the Ministerial Task Force for Health, Safety and Productivity published a report on tackling sickness absence in the public sector, which noted the need for sustained commitment from managers at the top, delivering the right data and systems to support better attendance management, providing leadership & support for line managers and ensuring regular & supportive contact for those who are absent due to sickness.
Referring to a new report - Managing Sickness Absence in the Public Sector: one year on – includes figures that show a downward trend and looking at examples of successful programmes to reduce sickness absence, he said:
"Staff have to be happy, healthy and here to realise efficiency gains, and HSE has evidence to show what can be achieved.
Changes introduced by the Royal Mail, including incentive schemes, overhauling the occupational health systems and referring any cases of stress or musculoskeletal problems such as bad backs to occupational health advisers on day one, show that an investment of £3.5 million has led to savings of £80 million.
This is the equivalent of having 2,000 extra staff available every working day, making it much easier for them to achieve their business targets."
Full article ~ Ministerial Task Force for Health, Safety and Productivity ~ HSE sickness & absence website ~ Managing sickness absence and return to work in small businesses ~ Off work sick and worried about your job? Steps you can take to help your return to work ~ HSE Government setting an example website ~ Managing Sickness absence in the Public sector ~ Delivery Plan for the Review of Sickness Absence in the Public Sector ~ Managing Sickness Absence in the Public Sector – one year on ~ HSE: Stress Management Standards website ~ HSE: musculoskeletal problems website
For other articles please click HERE
Date: 16 – 19 /01/200616/01/2006 to 19/01/2006
Venue: Central London
Organiser: Ark Group– Developing Executive Leaders in the Public Sector
As pressure mounts to achieve government set efficiency saving targets, so demand for dynamic leaders who can deliver them also grows.
Finding the right style of leadership that can work both with a single unified vision for your organisation, and in partnership across and beyond your local authority has never been more important. Moreover, giving credibility to good leadership practice has become essential to overcoming the sort of cultural barriers that can suppress an organisation’s progress.
Although demands for reform have spurred a surge in local initiatives and consultancy programmes, picking your way to the right executive leadership development strategy and succession plan can seem a daunting and costly prospect.
This conference will help you find a unique corporate steer for your executive leaders and make sense of the complex maze of leadership programmes, courses and funding.
In particular, you will hear from the ODPM’s Mike Reardon and the IDeA’s Martin Horton; clarifying the expectations of leadership in local government and how to achieve a cutting edge executive leadership. Also, the LCLG’s new Chief Executive, Stephen Taylor, will reveal his vision for the new Leadership Centre for Local Government.
Full details ~ OPDM Future Leadership Development programme ~ IDeA Leadership Academy ~ Ashridge virtual learning resource ~ Approaches to Executive leadership ~ Leadership centre for Local Government ~ Int. of Local Government studies
For information other events please click HERE
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