In the News

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ScotGovWill the Scots pay back the rest of the UK for rescuing their banks? - The Scottish Government plans to hold an independence referendum in the autumn of 2014, First Minister Alex Salmond said following a meeting last week of the Scottish Cabinet.  The Scottish Government will launch a consultation on the referendum later this month.

Confirmation that the referendum will be held in Autumn 2014 will allow all the necessary legislation required to authorise it to be passed and for proper preparations to be made with a referendum bill being introduced to the Scottish Parliament in January 2013
Press release ~ ScotGov Constitutional Reform ~ UK Government consultation on constitution (closes on Friday 9 March 2012) ~ An independent Scotland would struggle for AAA rating ~ National Conversation ~ Choosing Scotland's Future ~ Your Scotland Your Voice ~ ScotGov: Paper on Full Financial Responsibility ~ Analysis on the financial provisions in the Scotland Bill ~ ESRC: What does Scottish Independence really mean?  ~ Information on the Independent Budget Review ~ Fiscal Autonomy in Scotland: The case for change and options for reform ~ Policy Exchange: The Devolution Distraction ~ An Oil Fund for Scotland: Taking forward our National Conversation ~ State of the Economy ~ iea: Scotland’s share of the national debt could be £110 billion ~ England in the Union ~ BBC Soothsayer: Devolution may signal end of union - poll ~ ‘Scotsman’ piece on a Scottish independence referendum ~ Devolution: A decade on ~ Devolution: A Decade On - Government Response ~ The English Question

DfT:  Would an independent Scotland pay all the costs to extend HS2 beyond Leeds & Manchester? - Britain will have a national high speed rail network providing vital new capacity & faster journeys across the country from 2026, Transport Secretary Justine Greening has announced.   HS2 will be a Y-shaped rail network with stations in London, Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield and the East Midlands linked by high speed trains conveying up to 26,000 people each hour at speeds of up to 250mph.

It will be built in 2 phases:
* The first will see construction of a new 140 mile line between London & Birmingham by 2026. It will include a connection to Europe via the Channel Tunnel.  On completion of HS2 the network will include a direct link to Heathrow Airport.

* The second phase will see lines built from Birmingham to Leeds & Manchester by 2033.  A formal consultation on second phase routes will begin in early 2014 with a final route chosen by the end of 2014.
Press release & links  ~ DfT: HS Rail ~ High Speed Rail: Investing in Britain's Future - Consultation ~ CBI comment ~ TUC comment ~ iea comment ~ iea: High Speed 2: the next government project disaster? ~ ScotGov: High speed rail ~ Fast Track Scotland group ~ What are the main arguments for or against HSR?  ~ High Speed Two (HS2) ~ ICE report - The Missing Link ~ High Speed rail UK ~ Stop HS2 ~ Some countries are facing problems with their high speed railways ~ HS2 Action Alliance ~ HS2: London to Birmingham high speed rail route seen from the sky ~ The Railway Industry Association ~ Network Rail ~ Office of Rail regulation ~ Rail transport: The sustainable alternative for air travel in Europe ~ Energy Efficiency Technologies for Railways ~ Commission for Integrated Transport ~ Railteam UK: High speed Europe ~ High-speed rail will be Britain’s new transport system for the 21st century ~ High Speed Rail News ~ The Economist: High Speed Trains - The Concorde of the rail industry

EU NewsMusical Ghost of Emperor Nero lives on in EU - A ‘very broad agreement in favour’ of an EU financial transaction tax emerged at the start of the Economic & Monetary Affairs Committee's work on the legislative proposal.  Spokespersons for Parliament's various political groups all advocated such a tax, at least throughout the Eurozone, and many deplored France's hint that it could go it alone.

Marta Andreasen (EFD, UK) said that she found it "incredible that we are discussing a financial transaction tax for 2014 when the Euro is burning".  The draft report is scheduled to be presented on 28 February, put to a committee vote in early April and a plenary one in June 2012.   
Press release & links ~ The Telegraph: George Osborne tells his colleagues some plain truths about Tobin Tax (includes George Osborne's demolition of the Tobin Tax in full at Ecofin meeting) ~ EC: Taxation of the financial sector (includes link to EC Risk Assessment) ~ Previous ASI PR ~ Hanging London out to dry: The impact of an EU Financial Transaction Tax ~ Related IPPR press release ~ ASI: Tobin Tax would be economic suicide .. ~ EU: Financial Transaction Tax - Making the financial sector pay its fair share ~ Previous EU press release ~ CBI comment ~ PCS union comment ~ EU Economic & Financial Affairs & Int. Trade Sub-Cttee.: Financial Transaction Tax - Oral and written evidence

WAGEnsuring Nursing Care is ‘fit for purpose’ - Hourly ward rounds by nurses to check on patients’ comfort & personal needs are among the many improvements to patient care introduced as part of the Welsh Government’s drive to improve the patient experience in Wales.

The Transforming Care initiative, being rolled out across Wales, is designed specifically to increase the amount of time nursing staff spend on direct patient care. It also covers activities to reduce pressure sores, falls on wards & other similar incidents and includes hourly ward rounds by nurses. 

Other initiatives underway across Wales include the Free to Lead, Free to Care programme, which empowers hospital ward sisters & charge nurses to manage their wards.  One product from this programme is the Nutrition Care Pathway, which has introduced standard food & fluid charts to every in-patient area in Wales and requires organisations to protect patients at mealtimes from non urgent medical interventions.

There are national work programmes on oral health & hygiene, continence care, cleanliness standards and expansion of the Fundamentals of Care audit tool to gain more evidence from patients about their experiences.  The National Dementia Vision for Wales sets out how the Welsh Government intends to develop high quality services for people with dementia, a commitment reflected in the 5-year vision for the NHS in Wales, Together for Health.
Press release & links ~ Transforming Care initiative ~ Free to Lead, Free to Care programme ~ All Wales nutrition and catering standards for food and fluid for hospital inpatients ~ Fundamentals of Care ~ National Dementia Vision for Wales ~ Together for Health ~ WAG:  Will the watchdog just ‘bark’ or will it also ‘bite’ hospitals that fail to care? (5th item) ~ PA: The Lottery of Dignified Care

NICEAt least one part of the NHS is being ‘joined-up’! - NHS & social care staff in England now have open access to the online version of The Lancet, thanks to an agreement between NICE & Elsevier to fund a national subscription.  This 3-year agreement will provide all NHS staff who have an Athens password access to the latest copies of The Lancet, as well as back copies from the last 4 years, through NHS Evidence - the online service provided by NICE.

Healthcare students following an NHS-commissioned education programme which involves practice & placement within the NHS across England will also have access under the agreement.  Social care staff who meet the eligibility criteria will also be able to access The Lancet.  Register online if you are eligible for an Athens password, but don't yet have one.
Press release & links

MoDKeeping military families together - The British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS) has teamed up with The Sun newspaper and Audioboo to launch 'Boost for the Boys', a new way of keeping families in touch with their loved ones.  Using the 'Boost for the Boys' webpage you can record & upload messages for family & friends wherever they are in the Forces world. The service is FREE & simple to use.
Press release & links

MoDReturning to civilian life is difficult - A video to help veterans learn about the support available to them has been published on YouTube by the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency (SPVA).  The 5-minute video is designed to raise awareness of the one-to-one help provided by the UK's Veterans Welfare Service to anyone who has served in the Armed Forces.
Press release & links

TNAPreparing the Past for the Future - The National Archives records wiki, Your Archives, will be closing this year, as they prepare for the full launch of Discovery, their new online catalogue. In order to progress with the transition to Discovery, TNA have decided to close Your Archives to new users from January 2012.  In addition, users will be unable to edit content after September 2012.

TNA will then prepare the site for preservation on the government web archive - Your Archives' content will be accessible from the archive, but some functionality may not work. Take a look at the beta version of Discovery, which is up & running.
Press release & links

ESRCYet many school leavers cannot do even basic maths - The demand from employers for employees with skills & confidence in using quantitative methods (QM) is high & growing.  The internet, advances in computing power and the growing 'data deluge' have made it more important than ever to ensure that all social science undergraduates receive the best teaching possible to develop these skills.

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), in partnership with Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and the British Academy, are delighted to announce 20 new & innovative projects that aim to develop skills in this area.  The 20 projects include a range of activities including the development of online & interactive teaching resources, videos, and podcasts using the best available technology in innovative ways.
Press release & links

Recent paper: Effective Public Sector Document Management – Benefits, Impact and Efficiencies - Effective Document and/or Records Management is essential for knowledge-rich, time-poor public sector organisations where filing, security, access, retrieval, updating and disposal of information must all be managed alongside the pressing needs of FOI and legislative requirements within ever-tightening budgets.

A recent NHS Trust project has ensured that all existing medical records, both current and historical, are available digitally and in the process several buildings worth of space have been reclaimed and can be sold or re-furbished for alternative uses.

Savings from the project not only extend to the buildings but also staff costs as there were previously over 100 personnel involved in the records management and sourcing. Projected savings for future years therefore run into the millions of pounds.

Click here to find out more and receive your free guide to cost-effective Public Sector Document Management.

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