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In the News

NAO: Government failing to lead by example on Global Warming - The majority of government departments & agencies are failing to meet targets to make their new buildings and major refurbishments sustainable, according to a report published by the National Audit Office.

Under the OGC’s Common Minimum Standards for the procurement of built environments in the public sector, a BREEAM (Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method) assessment or equivalent is required.

In 2005-06 only 35% (37 of 106) of new builds and 18% (61 of 335) of major refurbishment projects had carried out, or planned to carry out, these environmental assessments. The report also found that, of the projects that did carry out an assessment, the majority failed to meet the required target of ‘excellent’ for new builds and ‘very good’ for refurbishments. For all 2005-06 projects, only 9% (41 of 441) achieved the required standards.

In the report, the NAO has identified a number of barriers to progress including a:

  • fragmentation of policy responsibility among government bodies
  • widespread perception of conflict between sustainability & value for money
  • lack of sufficient knowledge & expertise
  • failure to specify expected benefits & undertake rigorous post-occupancy reviews

Press release ~ Building for the future: Sustainable construction and refurbishment on the government estate ~ Execut ive Summary ~OGC Common Minimum Standards for the procurement of built environments in the public sector ~ BREEAM (Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method) assessment ~ DCLG - Energy Performance of Buildings ~ EU's Energy Performance of Buildings ~ 'Procuring the Future' - The Sustainable Procurement Task Force National Action Plan ~ Complete list of new operational targets for government estate ~ UK Government Sustainable Development website ~ BSEE: Natural refrigerants back in vogue

DfES: More than just ‘a Place of Safety’ - Alan Johnson has confirmed that a White Paper taking forward the next steps in the Government's plans for children in care will be published later this year.

The DfES has also published responses to the consultation on the government’s plans - Care Matters: Transforming the Lives of Children and Young People in Care - for transforming the lives of children & young people in care, which they claim have been welcomed by care leavers & young people still in the system, as well as the professionals who work with them.

Most young people consulted agreed that:

  • local authorities should be expected to have a "children in care" council to collect children's views
  • their carers should get more training on issues such as health & well-being and supporting children in education
  • they should have one consistent professional throughout their time in care
  • young people should get a £2,000 bursary for higher education
  • carers could be more involved in education by attending events such as parents' evenings
  • young people in care should have the opportunity to go to a boarding school as an alternative placement
  • they should have access to a personal adviser until the age of 25, and
  • the choice as to when to leave care between the ages of 16 and 21

Press release ~ Green Paper and responses to consultation ~ National Children’s BureauDirectgov – Children in Care ~ Looked -after children - Every Child Matters ~ Children leaving care - Every Child Matters ~ Prince's Trust - Care ~ Carelaw : A guide for young people in care ~ Revie w of the Child Care Proceedings System in England and Wales ~ Looked After Children and Young People: We Can and Must Do Better ~ Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) ~ Outcome Indicators for Looked after Children ~ DfES: Looked-after children – the struggle for stability ~ Every child matters: Change for Children ~ Board ing School Placement ~

Home Office: Government hopes immigrants will get the point(s) - Immigration Minister Liam Byrne, has unveiled the timetable for introducing the UK's new Australian-style points based system for migration. The government hopes that new scheme, which will be phased in from early 2008, will enable it to:

  • manage migration to the UK more effectively
  • tackle abuse and
  • attract the most talented workers into the UK economy
Key elements of the new system include:
  • Migrants will come to the UK under one of five tiers replacing more than 80 existing routes of entry
  • Points to be awarded to reflect aptitude, experience, age & also the level of need in any given sector
  • sponsorship by employers & educational institutions to ensure compliance with the immigration rules
  • financial securities for specific categories to ensure that migrants return home at the end of their stay, and
  • the ending of employment routes to the UK for low-skilled workers from outside the EU except in cases of short-term shortages

Press release ~ UK Border & Immigration Agency ~ A Points-Based System: Making Migration Work for Britain ~ Executive Summary: A Points-Based System ~ Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship ~ Science and Engineering Graduates SchemeFresh Talent: Working Scotland scheme for international students in Scotland ~ 'Securing the UK Border' - Borders and Visa strategy ~ Borders Action Plan ~ e-Borders pilot, Project Semaphore ~ Employing migrant workers ~ Life in the UK test ~ Life in the United Kingdom: A Journey to Citizenship ~ Advisory Board on Naturalisation and Integration (ABNI) ~

ESRC: Parents can monitor interactive homework - A new interactive learning system which helps parents keep in touch with what their children are doing at school is proving to be a great success with children, parents & teachers, according to new research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

The research, based at the University of Sussex and the London Knowledge Lab, developed the ‘HOMEWORK’ interactive learning system, which enables children between the ages of 5 and 7 to learn & practice Key Stage 1 maths using a range of multimedia technologies - both in the classroom and at home with their family.

The researchers found that using HOMEWORK:

  • improved communication between parents, teachers & learners
  • provided continuity between home & school learning
  • made numeracy learning more engaging for many learners
  • increased participation & enjoyment in homework (by parents as well as pupils)
  • and may have increased the effectiveness of time spent learning

HOMEWORK integrates educational software with broadcast quality video from the Channel Four educational TV series ‘The Number Crew’. Children work in a teacher-led group using an interactive whiteboard, either on their own or in small groups using tablet PCs.
Press release ~ 'HOMEWORK: HOME and School Linked Via Divergent Technology in a Pedagogic Framework' ~ ESRC Society Today ~ London Knowledge Lab ~ People @ the Centre of Communication and Information Technologies (PACCIT) programme ~ Sussex University’s IDEAS laboratory ~ Open Mind Productions ~ The Number Crew’ ~ Channel 4 Learning

DH: Simple surgery becomes more local, backed-up by specialist centres - A new report on the future of planned surgery, recommends that 80% of all surgery should be done locally with the remaining 20% of the more complex cases taking place at specialist centres where patients will have access to the most highly skilled surgeons in their field, using the most up-to-date technology.

In his report 'Saws and Scalpels to Lasers and Robots - Advances in Surgery' Prof. Sir Ara Darzi, the National Advisor on Surgery, sets out the changes that have taken place over the past two decades which have led to a revolution in how surgery is carried out, including:

  • The use of lasers & keyhole surgery leading to quicker recovery for patients & less risk of infection.
  • Procedures that previously required long stays in hospitals, such as hernia operations, being done as day cases in more local settings
  • development of new drugs making some surgery, such as the treatment of stomach ulcers, unnecessary

The Secretary of State also announced the new National Clinical Advisory Team which will provide a pool of clinical experts to support & guide the local NHS on service change proposals to ensure that they are safe & accessible for patients.

Press release ~ 'Saws and Scalpels to Lasers and Robots - Advances in Surgery' ~ Delivery of Surgical Services - The Royal College of Surgeons of England ~ BADS - British Association of Day Surgery ~ DH – Day Surgery ~ Report: Mending hearts and brains - clinical case for change ~ Report: Emergency Access - clinical case for change ~ National Service Frameworks ~ Direction of Travel for Urgent Care: a discussion document ~ DH – Urgent care website

NAO: Careless irregularities still the norm for EU finances - The National Audit Office, has reported to Parliament on the financial management of the European Union. The report summarises the main findings of the European Court of Auditors’ report on the implementation of the European Union budget for 2005 and focuses on recent developments in the financial management of the European Union.

The European Court of Auditors decidednot to provide a positive Statement of Assurance on the legality and regularity of European Community expenditure for the twelfth year in succession.

Taken as a whole, however, the underlying transactions were legal & regular with respect to revenue, administrative expenditure and most pre-accession expenditure. But there were material errors on some elements of the operational programmes.

Also in 2005, Member States notified the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) of just over 12,000 cases of irregularity, including suspected fraud, with a value of some €1bn. The value of reported irregularities represents a 5.3% increase from 2004, which is partially due to improved reporting by some member states.

The report noted that it was important to distinguish between irregularities and fraud, and that the lack of a positive Statement of Assurance does not indicate that EU expenditure is subject to an excessive level of fraud.

Press release ~ Financia l Management in the European Union ~ Execut ive Summary ~ European Court of Auditors ~ A nnual Report concerning the financial year 2005 ~ European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) ~ Civitas – European Court of Auditors

Cabinet Office: Back to the days of an Educated Civil Service - Leaders across central government have made a commitment that every eligible employee will be helped to gain basic skills and a level two qualification (broadly equivalent to 5 GCSEs at grades A* - C). This commitment covers over 475,000 people working to deliver public services in nineteen departments.

Permanent Secretaries from fourteen of the departments joined Sir Gus O'Donnell, Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service (who made the skills pledge on behalf of the Cabinet Office), at a signing ceremony organised by Government Skills, the sector skills council for central government.

In his report on skills published in December 2006, Lord Leitch warned that unless strong action was taken over the next few years to address skills levels in the workforce, the UK economy was likely to be seriously damaged in its ability to compete in world markets.

He proposed a skills pledge - that every eligible employee be helped by their employer to gain basic skills and a level two qualification. The pledge is currently a voluntary commitment, but Lord Leitch also proposed that unless significant progress was made by 2010, the government should consider legislating to require employers to provide support.
Press release ~ Government Skills ~ Delivery and Reform - Professional Skills for Government ~ ~ National School of Government ~ Sector Skills Development Agency - Leitch Review ~ Army basic skills provision: whole organisation approach, lessons learnt ~ The Basic Skills Agency ~ The Train to Gain Scheme ~ DfES: Read Write Plus ~ DfES - Get On

For Industry News please click HERE

For information on forthcoming public sector events please click H ERE to visit the WGPlus Events Calendar

General News

Land Registry: Switching off unused office equipment at Land Registry’s Swansea Office helped them win an award & reduce their carbon footprint by 1.5 tonnes in a one-month period, the equivalent emissions of a return flight from Cardiff to Tenerife.

All Land Registry offices across & took part in a weeklong exercise to reduce their energy consumption, and the Swansea Office, based at Ty Bryn Glas in High Street, registered the biggest reduction – a whole 28%. Land Registry Wales Office, also based in Swansea, came a close second, with 27%.

The reduction was partly due to a concerted effort to switch off unused machines, such as computer monitors and photocopiers. But the office had also installed voltage optimisation technology from energy efficiency specialists Power Perfector. In simple terms the technology reduces the voltage coming into the building without compromising the safety or efficient working of the electrical items within.

Press release ~ Land Registry ~ Power Perfector ~ Rushcliffe Borough Council – Power Perfector ~ Nort h Yorkshire County Council

OGC: The Office of Government Commerce (OGC) has unveiled a Government Procurement Graduate Scheme that aims to bring up to 13 high-calibre business graduates into government procurement roles by the autumn.

The successful graduates will be put through an accelerated two-year development programme, which will include procurement placements in a range of government departments. Seven departments are supporting the scheme including HM Revenue & Customs and the NHS Purchasing & Supply Agency.

The Reform of the Government Procurement Service is a key component of the Transforming Government Procurement report, which sets targets to raise skills, raise departmental capability, scrutinise procurement projects and improve collaboration on procurement across government.
Press release ~ Graduate Scheme website ~ OGC - Procurement ~ Procurement vacanciesTransforming Government Procurement ~ Government Procurement Service ~ Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS) ~ NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency

TfL: The Mayor of London is launching a major new campaign (started on Monday 16 AprilOyster cards on a first come, first served basis to new customers. Those who apply will not have to pay the usual £3 deposit. across a range of publications), which will include giving away

As part of the promotion, 100,000 Oyster cards will now be given away through national, local & community press adverts, targeted at London's communities where Oyster take-up is lower. The intention is to encourage all Londoners, particularly those on a low income, to use an Oyster card, which provides the cheapest way of travelling on London's public transport system.
Press release ~ Oyster website

NA: The National Archives has announced that Scotland Online will partner the government’s official archive in the forthcoming project to put the 1911 census for & online. The 1911 census is huge - it currently occupies 2 kilometres of shelving at The National Archives.

Comprising over eight million householder schedules and a further 38,000 enumerators´ summary books, it details information relating to approximately 35 million people then living in and . Once digitised, the census will take up an equally large ½ a petabyte of computer memory (1,024 terabytes and each terabyte is a thousand gigabytes).

From 3 January 2012 the public will have full access to the entire 1911 census, including the information not accessible in 2009. Researchers anywhere in the world will be able to search across the fields of the census by name, address or The National Archives reference and download high-resolution digital images.
Press release ~ National Archives 1911 Census ~ Previous census recordsScotland Online ~ Domesday Book ~ The National Archives of Scotland ~

ESRC: The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the British Academy (BA)Middle East. have announced the results of the new joint scheme to fund Visiting Fellowships from South Asia and the

The aim of the Visiting Fellowships is to attract early-career researchers particularly from South Asia and the Middle East to collaborate on research. In total 19 fellowships, which will be a minimum of two months in duration, have been awarded, 12 from the Middle East and 7 from South Asia. It is also hoped that through these Visiting Fellowships longer term plans for collaborative research could be developed.

Research areas to be focused on by the Visiting Fellows are diverse covering topics such as:

  • Dilemmas of development in unstable & fragile societie
  • Broken hearts, shared spaces: The survivors of the partition of in the
  • Ethno-religious diversity and exclusion: Buddhicization of a popular pilgrimage site in
  • Globalization and Indian film culture

Press release ~ ESRC / BA Visiting Fellowships for South Asia and the Middle East ~ ESRC Society Today ~ British Academy (BA)

HC: The private and voluntary healthcare sector is to get a 15% overall cut in regulatory fees for the 2007/2008 financial year, the Healthcare Commission has announced, because it is reducing the total number of independent providers it inspects. It inspected 80% of providers in 2006/2007, compared to 100% in 2005/2006 and will continue to make further significant reductions this year, but all providers will still have to submit an annual self-assessment.

To further reduce the cost of regulation in future years, the Commission is now piloting two initiatives with private doctors and beauty salons. If successful, these will be rolled out to other provider groups.

The first charges private doctors an annual fee based on the assumption that no inspection is needed. As part of the pilot, the provider group is subject to a daily charge for any inspections needed.

The second pilot calculates fees at a corporate level rather than per location for certain types of private doctors and beauty salons.

Press release ~ Healthcare Commission - Independent healthcare (private and voluntary) ~ Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) ~ NHS Quality Improvement Scotland ~ Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW)

CEL: The Centre for Excellence in Leadership (CEL) has announced the establishment of annual awards to recognise & celebrate the work of organisations & individuals leading the learner voice agenda. The awards will be for individual learners & groups of learners, college practitioners, senior managers and provider organisations. Nominations will close on 11 May 2007.

Kat Fletcher, CEL’s leadership of learners strategic co-ordinator and former NUS president, said: "Every year, thousands of learners take on roles such as student governor, apprentice representative or student union officer. These awards will raise the profile of the important work they do, and will inspire others”.
Press release ~ Leaflet about awards ~ Post-conference website for the Leading Learners conference January 2007 ~ Centre for Excellence in Leadership (CEL)

ESRC: The real culprit for the collapse of Rover Group was a misconceived attempt to emulate Japanese production methods that pre-dated ownership by the German car giant, a new book shows.

Based on research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, the book - The Myth of Japanese Efficiency by Dan Coffey - says the “just-in-time” supply system at Rover; destroyed its manufacturing flexibility, increased its production costs and fuelled hostility within its factories towards its marketing plans.

The analysis of the collapse of Rover Group is one of many findings in a provocative book that challenges the commonly held view that Japanese car manufacturers pioneered a “lean & flexible” production model. Japanese producers were in fact laggards rather than leaders in the development of flexible assembly, which should instead be seen as an innovation in 1950s .
Press release ~ The Myth Of Japanese Efficiency ~ ESRC Society Today ~ Centre for Automotive Industry Research at Cardiff University ~ National Skills Academy for Manufacturing ~ DTI – Manufacturing Forum ~ Auto motive Skills

Policy Statements and Initiatives

DH: Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt has announced an independent review to establish how the Modernising Medical Careers programme will go forward in 2008 & beyond. The review will be chaired by Sir John Tooke, Dean of the Peninsula Medical School, Chair of the Council of Heads of Medical Schools and Chair of the UK Health Education Advisory Committee.

The reform of specialist medical training is the next stage of the Modernising Medical Careers (MMC) initiative, designed to improve the quality & safety of patient care through better education & training for doctors and ensure fully trained specialist doctors deliver more NHS services.
Press release
~ NHS MMC - Home ~ NHS MMC - Foundation Programmes ~ Sir Liam Donaldson's Unfinished Business report ~ Modernising Medical Careers Specialist Training Programme ~ BMA - MMC update ~ Medical Training and Application Service (MTAS)

CLG: Most first-time buyers purchasing a home with an 'E, F or G' energy rating could benefit from grants to help improve the energy efficiency of their homes. Subsidies of between £100 & £300 are typically available from energy suppliers to help fund the costs of insulation and other energy efficiency improvements.  In addition some first-time buyers could be eligible for Government grants of up to as much as £2,700. 

But the Government claims that it wants go further to make it easier for homebuyers to access grants for energy efficiency measures, linking them to new EPCs. This could include ideas such as a 'one stop shop' where homeowners, after receiving their energy ratings, could access grants and get reliable quotes at the same time, to carry out improvements needed.
Press release ~ Energy saving grants and offers - Energy Saving Trust ~ HIP website ~ Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) ~ Review of the Sustainability of Existing Buildings: the Energy Efficiency of Dwellings - Initial Analysis ~ Warm Front


OFT: The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has published a discussion paper and announced informal consultation (closes 13 June 2007) on facilitating private actions in order to optimise the effectiveness of competition law in the UK and to make redress for consumers & business more accessible.

Infringements of competition law cause significant harm to both consumers & businesses. Recent experience shows that harm to consumers may run into tens of millions of pounds in any given case. However, up until now, consumers have recovered virtually no compensation. Businesses also find it difficult to recover losses and, to remedy the competitive disadvantage they may have suffered from infringements of competition law.

The discussion paper sets out a number of principles & proposals aimed at ensuring effective redress and greater compliance with competition law.
Press release ~ Discussio n paper for consultation ~ Consequences of breaking competition law ~ EU Green Paper: Damages actions for breach of the EC antitrust rules and an accompanying Commission Staff Working Paper ~ OFT response to EU Green paper ~ DTI response

Ofwat: The Water Services Regulation Authority (Ofwat) has published for consultation its proposal to fine United Utilities Water £8.5m for non-compliant trading arrangements with associate companies. Ofwat has given interested parties until 16 May 2007 to respond to the proposal, before taking a final decision in this case.

The value of the trading arrangements that Ofwat considers comprised the breach are about £95m in the period October 2005 to March 2007 (equivalent to around 8% of the company's turnover for the 2005-06 charging year). Ofwat has estimated the value of the likely cross-subsidies over the same period to be around £16m.

In December 2006 United Utilities Water provided Ofwat with a legally binding undertaking to make changes to its trading arrangements with its associate companies by 30 April 2007.
Press release ~ The Water Services Regulation Authority (Ofwat) ~ 'Notice of Ofwat's proposal to impose a penalty on United Utilities Water Plc' ~ 'Financial performance and expenditure of the water companies in England and Wales 2005-06' ~ Conso lidated Fund ~ United Utilities Water

DCA: A consultation (closes 13 July 2007) on case track limits and the claims process for personal injury claims has been published by the Department for Constitutional Affairs. The paper recommends no increase to the small claims limits, including those for personal injury and housing disrepair claims. It does however recommend that the fast track limit should be raised to £25,000.

The paper also considers ways to improve the claims process for personal injury cases to make it more efficient. It makes proposals for a new system built around the principles of:

  • early notification of claims
  • early admissions of liability and
  • the removal of duplication of work from the process

Press release ~ Consultation documents ~ Current case track limits (Part 26 onwards) ~ Claims management regulation ~ Pre-Action Protocol for Personal Injury Claims

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

DH: Care Services Minister, Ivan Lewis, has announced a new self-assessment tool for commissioners of children's & young people's health services that is intended to help commissioners, such as PCTs, to assess their capability to deliver high quality, accessible, children and family focused services.

The tool will allow commissioners and their partners to:
  • Assess their current capacity & capability to effectively commission children's & young people's services
  • Develop, where necessary, plans for increasing capacity & capability
  • Assess information to support best commissioning practice

Press release ~ Improving the quality and outcomes for services to children and young people through effective commissioning - A self-assessment tool for commissioners ~ Children's National Service Framework ~ Every Child Matters ~ DH - Children's services ~ Improvement review into services for children in hospital

DH: As a precautionary measure the Chief Dental Officer, Dr Barry Cockcroft has issued new guidance to all dentists in England regarding single use of reamers & files, instruments used only in the root filling of teeth.

The guidance to dentists (which applies to all primary and secondary care dentists in England) follows on from precautionary advice from the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee to the Department of Health and early results from ongoing research conducted by the Health Protection Agency, indicating a potential risk of vCJD associated with endodontic procedures.  

Endodontics relate to treatment to the dental pulp of a tooth.  A major part of this is root canal work.  No other aspect of dental work is affected by this precautionary advice.
Press release ~ Advice Letter ~ Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee ~ Health Protection Agency ~ Guidance on local reporting by clinicians

Annual Reports

Scottish Executive:  The results of the annual census of independent schools in have been published and the main findings include:

  • There were 30,519 pupils in independent schools in , 198 more than in 2005
  • The number of pupils has remained fairly stable recently (3.9% of pupils in 2000 to 4.2% 2006)
  • The total number of teachers equates to 9.0 pupils per teacher in 2006, the same as in 2005
  • There were 101 independent schools open in September 2006, however 49 of these schools had both a primary and secondary department ('through' schools)

Press release ~ Annual census of independent schools in Scotland (September 2006) ~ Scottish Council of Independent Schools (SCIS)

Defra:  The latest results from the Pesticide Residues Committee's (PRC) programme of pesticide residue testing in fruit & vegetables supplied to school children found that no samples contained any pesticides above the legal level in the Autumn 2006 term survey.

Tests were carried out on 50 samples of six different fruit & vegetables.  13 samples did not contain any residues that they were analysed for and 37 contained residues within the maximum residue level (MRL).  Risk assessments concluded that none of the residues detected were expected to affect the health of children eating the produce.
Press release ~ PRC Autumn 2006 report ~ Pesticide Residues Committee's (PRC) ~ PSD Food Safety ~ Food Standards Agency - Pesticides ~ DH - School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme


General Reports and Other Publications

Ofsted: The quality of personal, social & health education (PSHE) has improved steadily in the last five years, but there is still some way to go to ensure that it meets the needs of all pupils, according to a new report from the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted).

Time for Change? Personal, social and health education, finds that pupils’ knowledge & understanding of PSHE has increased and the quality of teaching & learning has improved.  Primary schools have been particularly successful in defining achievement in PSHE more broadly to include pupils’ attitudes & behaviour.    

However, Secondary schools have further to go, as there is still some poor lesson planning & assessment as well as a lack of space in the timetable for PSHE.  It is taught by non-specialists in some schools and too much of this teaching is unsatisfactory.
Press release ~ Time for change? Personal, social and health education ~ Teachernet - PSHE ~ QCA -  About personal, social and health educationPSHE Subject Association ~ BBC - Schools - Keystage 3 Teachers PSHECurriculum Online - Personal, social and health education Home ~ National Curriculum in Action - PSHE Home Page ~ Towards consensus? Citizenship in secondary schools ~ ~

DfT/RAIB: The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) has released its report into the derailment at Long Millgate, Manchester on the Metrolink system on 22 March 2006, which caused disruption to tram services in Manchester.

There were no injuries and no damage to the tram, but there was minor damage to the track and the RAIB have made four recommendations to the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive (GMPTE) covering the design, maintenance and renewal of the track on the Metrolink system as a result of its investigation.
Press release ~ RAIB - Report on derailment at Long Millgate, Manchester ~ Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive (GMPTE) - Metrolink ~ Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority

 NAO: According to a new report from the National Audit Office, under the new NHS consultants’ contract, consultants in England are earning on average 25% more than three years ago, but are working the same number of hours or less. In addition, the DH acknowledges that, in 2005, it underestimated the cost of the new contract by £150 million.

The NAO report looked at the development, implementation & outcomes of the contract and it also examined whether the public and the NHS are receiving the expected benefits of the contract.  The report concluded that the contract is not yet delivering the value for money to the NHS and patients that was expected from it.
Press release
~ Pay Modernisation: A new contract for NHS consultants in England  ~ Execut ive Summary ~ Survey of Consultants ~ Survey of NHS Trusts ~ DH – Consultant contract ~ BMA - NHS consultant contract (England)


DH: Every hospital patient should have their own risk assessment for VTE as that will improve patient safety & help save thousands of lives each year, says an expert working group whose report has been launched by the Chief Medical Officer (CMO). Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a set of complications that includes blood clots in veins that can break off.  In England around 25,000 people a year die from VTE in hospitals alone.


The government has therefore established an implementation working group which will develop a national risk assessment tool and will also provide leadership both within the NHS and the wider healthcare sector in order to assess what needs to be done to ensure that a VTE risk assessment of every patient on admission to hospital becomes a reality.

Press release ~ Report of the independent expert working group on the prevention of venous thromboembolism in hospitalised patients ~ Venous thromboembolism (VTE) ~ National Library for Health


Defra: Defra has published the final epidemiology report into the outbreak of H5N1 avian influenza in Suffolk confirmed in February 2007, which sets out the findings of the National Emergency Epidemiology Group who have been investigating the outbreak in close consultation with the European Commission and the Hungarian Authorities.  A Lessons Learned report will follow later in the year.


No specific proven source has been found and the report concludes that the most plausible explanation is that infection was most likely introduced to Britain via the importation of turkey meat from Hungary.  Such meat could have originated from a sub-clinically infected turkey flock in Hungary that had been infected from a wild bird source, which had also infected the two goose farms in Hungary.

Press release ~ Epidemiological report with Executive summary ~ Food Standards Agency Defra, UK - Avian Influenza ~ DH Flu website ~ DH – Pandemic Flu ~ Bird flu and pandemic influenza: what are the risks? ~ Current Contingency Plan ~


Legislation / Legal

Office of LSCC: The Legal Services Complaints Commissioner, Zahida Manzoor CBE, has declared the Law Society's complaints handling Plan for the period 1 April 2007 to 31 March 2008 as ‘adequate’, following a period of detailed discussions.

The targets set by the Commissioner and contained in the Law Society's Plan include:

  • By the end of March 2008, to have no more than 65 cases that have been open for 12 months or more, and
  • 67% of cases are closed within 3 months
  • 93 % of complaints are acknowledged with 5 working days of receipt
  • 88% of complaints receive a substantive response within 45 days of receipt
  • 88% of complaints to meet the specified contact requirements, and
  • 73% or more of referrals to the Legal Services Ombudsman (LSO) in which the LSO upholds the handling of the case by the Law Society.
  • The Law Society will use at least 95% of its authorised budget & resource to deliver the content of the Plan
Press release ~ Office of the Legal Services Complaints Commissioner  ~ Legal Complaints Service ~ Law Society Performance ~ Other reports & documents ~ Law Society of England and Wales

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

OfwatThe water industry in England and Wales compares well against a wide range of countries in Europe, North America and Australia, according to a new report published by Ofwat. Standards of customer service are generally high, bills are in line with most other countries and water consumption per person is around average for Europe, although much lower than in Australia or the USA.

Although customers in England and Wales generally pay around the same for their water as those in other countries in the study, there are some significant differences. The price of water is subsidised by the state in some other European countries, and low levels of infrastructure investment in Italy have meant that water there remains relatively cheap.
Press release ~ International Comparison of Water and Sewerage Service 2007 ~ VEWA - 'Comparison of European Water and Wastewater Prices' ~ Defra - Water conservation ~ Water Strategy: Directing the Flow - priorities for future water policy ~ Consumer Council for Water ~ Water UK

Business and Other Briefings

FSA:  The financial regulator carried out work in late 2006 and early 2007 to see if, and how, compliance consultants were used in small mortgage, general insurance and financial advice firms.  The project also looked into whether the firms that did use consultants used them effectively.

In particular the FSA visited 22 small firms employing compliance consultants in early 2007 and found nearly half of them still had significant weaknesses in respect of their regulatory requirements.

The work also showed that over a third of these firms were not acting on recommendations from their consultants that would have improved their regulatory position.
Press release ~ FSA: Using a compliance consultant ~ Firm Contact Centre ~ FSA – Small firms

HMRC:  HM Revenue and Customs has announced arrangements enabling investors with offshore accounts to disclose to HMRC any income and gains not previously included in their tax returns. 

To use these arrangements, investors will need to notify HMRC by 22 June 2007 of their intention to make a disclosure and then make their disclosure by 26 November 2007.
Press release ~ HMRC: The Offshore Disclosure Facility ~ Offshore savings accounts - This is Money


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