DH: Health Secretary Alan Johnson claimed that ‘Our challenge is to modernise stroke services at every stage and drive down death and disability caused by strokes’, when launching a consultation (closes on 12 October) on stroke services.

Stroke is the third biggest killer in England and despite more money being spent on stroke care over recent years, care for stroke patients is still lagging behind the other two big killers - heart disease and cancer. The consultation will shape the final Stroke Strategy which will be rolled out later this year and the proposals include:

* looking at smarter ways to prevent strokes
* treating the earliest signs of strokes seriously
* improving care & support when people leave hospital
Press release ~ Consultation documents ~ DH - Strokes ~ Stroke Research Network ~ The Stroke Association ~ Quality of care for stroke and TIA in General Practice ~ ASSET 2 ~ UK Stroke Forum ~ Report: Mending hearts and brains - clinical case for change ~ NAO report: Reducing Brain Damage – Faster access to better stroke care (1.4Mb) ~ Caring for people after they have had a stroke ~ Economic burden of stroke in England ~ Different strokes website ~ Ischaemic stroke (acute) - alteplase

CLG: The Government has published a consultation (closes 1 October 2007) reviewing business rates for empty properties. It seeks the views of property owners, developers, surveyors and councils on potential reform of detailed aspects of the empty property rates regime. In particular, it will propose ways to tackle rate avoidance.

It examines the tax concessions for empty listed buildings like shops, offices and visitor attractions and whether their current exemption from the business rates can be justified.

Another area of concern is the current, possibly perverse, incentive whereby companies in liquidation are exempt from empty property rates while those in administration are not. Stakeholders have expressed fears this could encourage insolvencies with the subsequent loss of jobs and knock-on effect on supplier and creditor businesses.
Press release ~ 'Modernising Empty Property Relief' consultation ~ The Rating (Empty Properties) Bill ~ Kate Barker’s Review of Land Use Planning ~ Sir Michael Lyons in his independent Inquiry into Local Government

CIOB: The DTI (now the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform) has launched its second joint consultation (closes 17 September) with the Welsh Assembly Government to amend Part II of the Housing Grants Construction and Regeneration Act 1996 and Scheme for Construction Contracts (England and Wales) Regulations 1998.

The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) requests your feedback (by 3 August 2007) on whether the proposals adequately address the weaknesses in the existing framework, so that it has time to submit its collated views.
Press release ~ Consultation documents ~ Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB)

DH: The government is consulting (closes 4 October 2007) on a new code of practice to set out how NHS counter fraud & security specialists should obtain documents from individuals & contractors effectively and appropriately.

The powers, granted under the Health Act 2006, set out how NHS fraud or security investigations can be boosted by asking individuals or contractors to provide documents that could contain evidence. The powers will help combat financial losses to fraud in the NHS - however, it is necessary to ensure that the powers will be used in a way that does not disrupt patient care.

Of particular importance is the need to protect patient confidentiality and ensure that any information obtained is used only for progressing investigations into fraud and security breaches. The code will also ensure the information is kept secure and not misused.
Press release ~ Consultation Documents ~ Health Act 2006 ~ NHS Counter Fraud and Security Management Service ~ Agis European Commission ~ EHFCN

DCFS: The Department for Children, Schools and Families is issuing guidance for consultation (closes on 16 August 2007), which explains how to spot the victims of child trafficking and give them the help & long-term support they need to escape the cycle of exploitation and abuse.

The document, which has been jointly produced with the Home Office, has advice for a wide range of professionals - from immigration officials to social workers - as well as for communities. It clearly describes the best actions to take if a child is suspected of being trafficked and the important steps that need to be taken to ensure they don't fall back into the hands of the traffickers.

The draft guidance Safeguarding Children Who May Have Been Trafficked will form part of the overarching Working Together to Safeguard Children guidance that was published in 2006.
Press release ~ Consultation documents ~ Working Together to Safeguard Children ~ Every Child Matters - Safeguarding children ~ CEOP ~ CEOP: A Scoping Project on Child Trafficking in the UK ~ NSPCC child trafficking advice & support line ~ UK Borders Bill ~ Unicef: Child trafficking ~ UK Human Trafficking Centre
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