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In the News

DCA: Making sure decisions are for benefit of individuals rather than interested parties - A Code of Practice for people making decisions on behalf of individuals who lack mental capacity has been published. The Code applies immediately to those aspects of the Mental Capacity Act relating to Independent Mental Capacity Advocates and the new criminal offence of ill-treatment or neglect and for all other provisions from 1 October 2007 once they come into force.

The Code, which sets out best practice for professionals, family carers & other groups, will be an essential guide to help people make decisions that are in the best interests of some of the most vulnerable people in society, as it covers an extensive range of different decisions that might need to be taken.

Professionals and other paid carers are expected to have regard to the Code when working with someone who lacks capacity.

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 provides a statutory framework for people who lack the mental capacity to make their own decisions. It sets out who can take decisions, in which situations and how they should go about this, as well as enabling people to make provision for a time in the future when they may lack capacity to make some decisions.

Parts of the Act that came in to effect in April 2007 include the Independent Mental Capacity Advocate Service in England (IMCAs). Other parts of the Act including the Court of Protection, the Office of the Public Guardian, Lasting Powers of Attorney and the IMCA service for Wales will come into effect in October 2007.

Press release ~ Making decisions: The Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) Service ~ DCA - Other codes and related documents ~ DCA – Mental Capacity Act ~ Independent Mental Capacity Service ~ Public Guardianship Office ~ Offices of Court Funds, Official Solicitor and Public Trustee ~ Lasting Powers of Attorney (click on link) ~ WAG – Mental Capacity Act ~ Mental Capacity Act 2005 - Best Practice Tool ~ Government response to the Lasting Powers of Attorney - forms and guidance consultation ~ Protecting the vulnerable: the Bournewood consultation - summary of responses ~ Mind ~ DH – Social Care

Defra: Government preaches, but does not always listen to its own message - After last week's critical NAO report, a new campaign that aims to help individuals cut their personal CO2 emissions has been backed by the Prime Minister and Environment Secretary David Miliband. The Climate Group's We're In This Together Campaign is intended to bring businesses, Government & communities together and provides practical ideas for how individuals can reduce their CO2 footprint.

Steps the Government is taking to help individuals reduce their CO2 footprint include:

  • A new CO2 calculator - due to be launched later this spring
  • Assistance to help people in fuel poverty insulate their homes and install more energy efficient boilers
  • Phasing out inefficient light bulbs and removing inefficient white goods from the market
  • Introducing energy audits for homes & businesses
  • Engaging the public - an Act on CO2 campaign to help make individuals more ‘CO2 literate’
  • Introducing a code of best practice for offsetting

Press release ~ Act on CO2 campaign ~ We're In This Together Campaign ~ Current artwork designs for the Government's proposed CO2 calculator ~ Energy Saving Trust ~ Climate Change Bill ~ Climate Challenge website ~ Defra – Climate Change ~ NAO report on sustainable construction and refurbishment on the Government Estate ~ UK Power Sector Emissions - targets or reality? ~ Code of Best Practice for Offsetting ~ DfT - Act on CO2

DfES: Start with the basics, well-trained teachers - A plan to help improve the training & development available to school teachers and contribute to raising school standards in England has been published by the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA).

The new national strategy for serving teachers' Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is intended to ensure that effective, high quality training is available in the areas that need it most. Schools will hopefully be able to make better, more informed decisions about the training in which they invest.

The strategy follows a review of gaps in current CPD provision and sets out three main national priorities for the years 2007-2010:

  • Pedagogy, including more support on behaviour management, updating subject knowledge & supporting changes in the curriculum
  • Personalisation, including greater awareness of equality & diversity issues and supporting pupils with special education needs (SEN) & disability, and
  • People, including working with support staff & frontline professionals in schools and more help for current & aspiring school leaders

The TDA will work closely with social partners on the Rewards and Incentives Group (RIG) to publish guidance to support new teacher professionalism, including measuring the impact of CPD. It will also pilot a database of CPD provision available.

Press release ~ Continuing Professional Development: A strategy for teachers ~ Rewards and Incentives Group (RIG) ~ Teachernet CPD ~ General Teaching Council for England - CPD ~ NUT on the Web - CPD ~ Teachers TV - CPD Support ~ Teaching the teachers: is CPD equipping our teachers for a technological world?

DH: A golden future or a sinkhole of future deprivation - Social Care Minister Ivan Lewis has announced a five-point plan to ‘put excellence at the heart of the government's vision for twenty first century social care’ following the publication of Dame Denise Platt’s report on the state of social care.

The centre piece of the package will be a skills academy 'SocialCare21' focussed on developing world class leadership & commissioning in the public, private and voluntary sectors, plus:

  • the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) has been asked to create a new system for identifying & disseminating best practice in the sector
  • the Government is to open discussions with publishers to create a high prestige social care journal of a similar nature to the Lancet in health.
  • Academics, practitioners and service users/ their families will have a platform to stimulate debate, identifying future challenges and comment on the statue of social care
  • A new national social care board is to be established to directly advise ministers.

Press release ~ Platt review on Social care ~ Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) ~ Care Services Improvement Partnership ~ Health and Social Care Awards ~ Social care workforce review - Options for Excellence ~ DH – Social Care ~ Caring Choices Coalition: Who will pay for long-term care? ~ King's Fund - Wanless Social Care Review ~ Healthcare Commission - Review of dignity in care

IPO: Want to be the next Google or Microsoft? Then protect your IP - Small businesses risk missing out on valuable income from new technology or ideas because they’re not certain about their intellectual property rights, a new survey has found. The warning comes on World IP Day, with the UK Intellectual Property Office unveiling its first ever comprehensive survey of IP Awareness in UK business.

Every business uses aspects of intellectual property, the name it trades under, processes it uses, the products or services it provides, or protecting and deriving benefit from the creative or artistic works it generates.

As part of World IP Day, the UK Intellectual Property Office has published two new information booklets and an e-newsletter specifically for smaller firms and individuals to help protect their ideas.

The new IP Health Checks pilot scheme will help up to 50 small firms identify their intellectual property and access advice to protect and maximise its value.

Press release ~ World Intellectual Property (IP) Day ~ Survey of IP awareness(1.9Mb) ~Wallace & Gromit - Cracking Ideas ~ My IP (3.4Mb) ~ My Idea – is it a business? (3Mb) ~IP Health Checks ~ IP Insight ~ Innovation Support Strategy

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General News

CIOB: The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) will launch in June its newly revised Education Framework that includes sustainable design & construction as compulsory mainstream criteria for any course provider.

The revised Framework takes into account all major policies, including the National Occupational Standards, the Graduate Common Learning Outcomes and the QAA Benchmark Statements, whilst also reflecting current industry issues including sustainability and health & safety. Use of both the Education Framework 2007 and the updated accreditation process will be live from 2nd July 2007.

Press release ~ CIOB Education Framework ~ National Occupational Standards ~ Graduate Common Learning Outcomes ~ QAA Benchmark Statements ~ CIOB - Accreditation Process

DH: Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt has announced the terms of reference of the independent review into Modernising Medical Careers, which will (hopefully) establish how the programme will go forward in 2008 and beyond. It will be conducted independently of the four Health Departments and will have its own independent secretariat. It will report on an interim basis in September 2007.

Press release ~ NHS MMC ~ BMA requests urgent meeting with Health Secretary as junior doctors prepare to head overseas

HC: The Healthcare Commission has responded to the latest figure on incidents of healthcare associated infection in NHS trusts released by the Health Protection Agency. The Health Act 2006 requires all NHS trusts to observe the provisions of the Government’s Hygiene Code, which came into force last October.

For the first time this year, trusts will have to declare whether they believe they have all the necessary measures in place to comply with the hygiene code as part of the annual assessment of NHS trusts.

The Commission has already followed up more than 40 trusts that declared non-compliance against the core standard on the control of infection in 2005/6. Each of these trusts have now been able to provide assurance that they are now meeting these core standards as well as the requirements of the Hygiene Code.

Press release ~ Health Protection Agency figures ~ Healthcare Commission ~ Healthcare associated infection ~ Code of Practice for the Prevention and Control of Health Care Associated Infections ~ DH – Clean Hospitals ~ Health Act 2006 ~ Changes to the mandatory healthcare associated infection surveillance system for Clostridium difficile associated diarrhoea from April 2007 ~ MRSA data collection system ~ NHS Infection Control Training Programme ~ RCN: Good practice in infection prevention and control Guidance for nursing staff

Policy Statements and Initiatives

DWP: The Government has announced details of a funding review (lead by Andrew Young, Directing Actuary of the Government Actuary's Department) with the aim of giving further help to people who lost money when their pension schemes wound up under-funded.

Reviewers will provide an initial view in the summer and a full report by the end of the year.
Press release ~ DWP - Financial Assistance Scheme ~ BBC NEWS - MP in pension compensation call ~ Pensions Commission ~ Pension Service

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has issued advice on the support that smokers should be offered in their workplace to help them quit smoking. The new advice comes as workplaces in England prepare to go smokefree from 1 July, creating an additional opportunity to help improve health by supporting those smokers who want to give up.

NICE claims that providing stop smoking support in the workplace will not only help employees who smoke to quit, but will also help employers & employees stay the right side of the new laws. As a healthier, smokefree workforce means increased productivity, providing stop smoking support makes good business sense for employers.

Press release ~ NICE Workplace Smoking Guidance ~ Stop smoking start living ~ Smokefre e Public Places ~ Your business, your rubbish and the law ~ Quit smoking start living - How do I go Smokefree? ~ DH - Smoking

NICE: New guidelines launched by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) are set to tackle the continuing problem of potentially life-threatening venous thromboembolism (deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism) in patients who have undergone surgery.

The guideline, produced for NICE by the National Collaborating Centre for Acute Care (NCC-AC) highlights thatdeep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs in over 20% of surgical patients and over 40% of patients undergoing major orthopaedic surgery.

Press release ~ NICE guidance: Venous thromboembolism ~ National Collaborating Centre for Acute Care (NCC-AC) ~ DH Venous Thromboembolism – Other Key Documents

NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has issued an amendment to the guidelines on the management of depression and anxiety in primary & secondary care. The guidance, originally published in December 2004, has been updated following safety advice issued by the MHRA on the prescription of venlafaxine, but does not cover other areas where new evidence may be available. The Institute expects to make a decision on a full update of both guidelines later in 2007.

The main changes to the anxiety guideline are on the use of pharmacological therapy and the considerations that need to be made before prescribing venlafaxine if appropriate.

The main changes to the depression guideline are on the use of antidepressants especially in patients with cardiovascular disease and the special considerations that need to be taken into account when switching treatment to venlafaxine.

Press release ~ Anxiety guidance ~ Depression Guidance ~ Me dicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) ~ Mind press article ~ NICE: Computerised cognitive behaviour therapy for depression and anxiety - Review of Technology Appraisal 51 ~ DH – Mental Health ~ Rethink ~ Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health ~ Useful Links

Sport England: Last week, Sport England launched Active Design, a new approach to getting local communities out of their armchairs and involved in sport. Active Design gives practical, easy-to-use guidance and information to town planners, urban designers and architects on how to put sport and opportunities to get active at the heart of new developments.

Drawing on best practice in master planning and urban design, Sport England’s Active Design provides advice on how opportunities for sport and active travel (walking & cycling) can be maximised through the design and layout of new building developments, open spaces and sports facilities.

Press release ~ Active Design (4.6Mb) ~ Sport England ~ Everyday Sport ~ Active Places ~ Sporting Champions ~ CABE (Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment)

DH: Health Minister Andy Burnham has published new guidance to help health bodies and practitioners deliver high quality convenient care closer to people's homes. The government claims that, by shifting services in this way, patients will wait less time and have shorter journeys for treatment, as well as having a greater choice & convenience about when and where they are treated.

The guidance, Implementing care closer to home - convenient quality care for patients, provides practical support to NHS commissioners for the provision of more specialised services delivered by PwSIs, including:

  • an introduction to shifting services into the community;
  • a step by step guide on the issues for consideration when redesigning patient care using PwSIs, and
  • a new nationally recognised accreditation process for GPs and Pharmacists with special interests

A series of free half day regional workshops are being held for NHS staff on the new guidance.

Press release ~ NHS - Practitioners with Special Interests (PwSIs) ~ BMA - GP - Providing healthcare closer to home ~ Manchester event ~ Birmingham event ~ DH - PwSI ~ Pharmacists with special interests page ~ Royal College of General Practitioners ~ Implementing care closer to home - providing convenient quality care for patients: A national framework for Pharmacists with Special Interests

NAO: The National Audit Office has launched a web-based toolkit of good practice on communicating with the public for government organisations to use when assessing their work – See ‘General Reports and other publications’ for more details

General Reports and Other Publications

NAO: A report from the National Audit Office proposes improvements which build on changes already introduced by HM Revenue & Customs to make forms & guidance easier to obtain & understand, thus helping to reduce unintentional errors by taxpayers and resulting in more accurate tax assessments.

The report highlights that HMRC could make it easier for taxpayers to find the forms & information they need, including improving the specialist help available to people with disabilities or whose first language is not English.

HM Revenue &Customs has improved its forms & guidance by introducing shorter forms for people with simple tax affairs and simplifying tax statements & other information. However, the NAO found that some guidance requires a reading age of 16 to 17 years old to understand, whereas less than half the adult population reach this level.

The NAO has launched a web-based toolkit of good practice on communicating with the public for government organisations to use when assessing their work. The toolkit draws attention to other examples from past NAO reports.

Press release ~ HM Revenue & Customs: Helping individuals understand and complete their tax forms ~ Executive Summary ~ Service transformation: A better service for citizens and businesses, a better deal for the taxpayer ~ Effective Communication with the Public: A Toolkit ~DWP - Using leaflets to communicate with the public about services and entitlements ~ Improving service quality: Action in response to the Inherited SERPS problem ~ Previous ‘communication’ reports include: Delivering Efficiently: Strengthening the links in public service delivery chains ~ Better Public Services through e-government ~ Citizen Redress: What citizens can do if things go wrong with public service ~ Good Practice in Performance Reporting in Executive Agencies and Non-Departmental Public Bodies ~ Dealing with the complexity of the benefits system ~ Tackling pensioner poverty: Encouraging take-up of entitlements

PCS: The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) has published a highly critical response to the Freud Report on welfare reform which proposed the privatisation of employment service for the long term unemployed. The publication came on the same day as a parliamentary seminar on the topic organised by the union.

Warning of a dogmatic hostility to publicly provided services, the union maintains that the Freud Report offers little evidence of the ability of the private & voluntary sectors to outperform public sector agencies such as Jobcentre Plus in getting the long term unemployed back to work.

The union also warned that proposals for contractors to be paid by results could act as an incentive for providers to concentrate on more job ready clients, whilst ignoring those with more intractable problems.

Press release ~ PCS response to report ( .uk/shared_asp_files/GFSR.asp?NodeID=910950) ~ Freud report

ESRC: In a survey of 200 patients and their representatives, clinicians and other healthcare professionals (librarians and IT staff), Professor Ann Blandford and Professor Peter Lunt have looked at the growing need to understand how digitisation of health information will impact upon patients, staff and managers across the health service.

Findings from the project, which was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council’s E-Society Programme, show how technologies can be integrated into practice in different ways to that expected by those implementing and monitoring their use. This indicates that attention is required on areas such as:
  • designing technologies to fit with established working practices at the individual & team level within the NHS
  • ensuring that the values of workers are not at odds with the new technologies
  • ensuring that users trust the technology;
  • ensuring that the new technologies do not undermine health service workers’ pride in their knowledge

Press release ~ Co-evolvi ng roles and technologies in the NHS: Barriers and forces for change ~ ESRC’s E-Society Programme

Legislation / Legal

DCA: From last week all claims management companies will be regulated by the Department for Constitutional Affairs. Those authorised to provide the regulated services must follow strict rules of conduct, which are intended to ensure that consumers are given clear information about the options available for pursuing their claim.

A baseline study has also been published which provides an analysis of the sectors being regulated and outlines the strategy for dealing with malpractice.

The regulation will initially apply to claims in respect of:

  • Personal injury

  • Criminal injuries compensation

  • Employment

  • Housing disrepair

  • Financial products and services

  • Industrial injury disablement benefits

Press release ~ Claims Management Regulation website ~ Baseline Study ~ Compensation Act 2006

Home Office: The United Kingdom and United States have ratified a bilateral extradition treaty that the government claims will modernise & extend the arrangements for extradition between them and, for the first time, allow for the extradition of individuals accused of twenty-first century crimes, such as child internet pornography, which were not extraditable offences under the old arrangements.

The treaty's new provisions include:

  • Defining an extraditable offence as one punishable by a 12 month or longer sentence in both states

  • Removing US statute of limitations issues

  • Introducing a measure to allow for the temporary surrender of persons serving a prison sentence in the requested state

  • Permitting the waiver of the rule of speciality.

Press release ~ Extradition Act 2003 ~ Home Office: Extradition Act 2003 - Part 1 ~ Home Office: Extradition Act 2003 - Part 2 ~ Home Office: Extradition to the UK (outgoing requests) ~ BBC News: MPs angry at 'unfair' extradition ~ Chatham House discussion paper

EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.

Defra: A new system to beat illegal fishing around the world, by tracking fish from the moment they are caught to when they arrive on consumers' plates has got the backing of the UK Government. UK Fisheries Minister Ben Bradshaw and Gareth Thomas, the Minister for International Development have met with UK supermarkets to highlight the importance of including a fish monitoring system in new European legislation currently being drafted.

The proposed EU regulations are intended to close a gap in current EU laws and prevent illegally caught fish entering member states.  Draft legislation is expected to be published by the summer of 2007.

The Ministers have also announced a £15 million scheme to help fishermen in Sierra Leone stamp out illegal fishing, including setting up a tracing scheme that will track fish being exported to the EU.

Illegal fishing is a major form of organised crime that deprives often very poor communities, of up to $9 billion in lost income every year - $1 billion of which is the loss to Africa.

Press release ~ DFID - Combating illegal fishing in the developing world ~ DFID - Action plan to combat illegal fishing ~ eFishBusiness ~ National Federation of Fish Friers ~ UK Food and Drink Federation (FDF) ~ WWF report ~ European Commission - Fight against illegal fishing (IUU)


Charity and Voluntary Sector

DfES: A consortium of leading charities and a top London university have won a £30m grant to provide a new academy for parenting practitioners, following an announcement by Children's Minister Beverley Hughes. The new National Academy for Parenting Practitioners (NAPP) will be provided by the Family and Parenting Institute, Parenting UK and Kings College London and will launch in October 2007.

It is intended to be a centre of excellence, providing training for those who support parents in the community & research on what methods work to support parents. The academy will train practitioners working with parents in schools, health services, children's services and beyond and support innovation & knowledge sharing.

Press release ~ National Academy for Parenting Practitioners (NAPP) ~ Family and Parenting Institute ~ Parenting UK ~ National Occupational Standards for Work with Parents ~ King's College London Parenting Unit ~ Partnerships UK ~ Respect Action Plan ~ Respect website ~ Family Intervention Projects - Communities and Local Government ~ DfES - Parenting matters

Business and Other Briefings

FSA: Both the Smaller Businesses Practitioner Panel and the Financial Services Practitioner Panel have welcomed the publication of the FSA's document entitled: Principles-based Regulation – Focusing on the Outcomes that Matter

Roy Leighton, Chairman of the FSPP, said: "As our 2006 survey highlighted, the industry has been calling for the FSA to provide greater clarity about what it meant when it talked about Principles-based Regulation; what it expected of regulated firms in that context; and what firms could expect from the FSA.

At the strategic level, this document provides a helpful framework and focus for senior management to drive this shift in emphasis forward within their firms”.

SBPP press release ~ FSPP press release ~ Principles-based Regulation – Focusing on the Outcomes that Matter ~ Smaller Businesses Practitioner Panel ~ Financial Services Practitioner Panel ~ FSA's Small Firm web-pages

FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has said that firms must improve the standards of cold calling when selling general insurance over the telephone to ensure they are treating their customers fairly. A review found the standard of sales where the customer called the firm was generally acceptable, although the disclosure of significant exclusions & limitations could be improved.

However, the standard of sales was poor when insurance policies, such as personal accident insurance, health cash plans and accident and sickness insurance, were sold through cold calling.

Press release ~ General Insurance Telephone Sales - Results of thematic work: Examples of good and poor practice ~ Are you covered? : FSA Money made clear – guide

Pensions Regulator: Industry-wide views on the regulation of defined contribution (DC) schemes have been published by the Pensions Regulator following its recent consultation, alongside a discussion paper on pension scheme governance.

Identifying key issues for DC schemes - including administration, investment choices, charges, decisions on retirement choices and member awareness - the consultation document set out proposals on how DC schemes will be regulated.  The consultation responses will inform guidance setting out how the Pensions Regulator will regulate DC schemes which will be published in due course.

The discussion paper on pension scheme governance highlights the pivotal role of education and the importance of good governance in running all schemes.

Press release ~ DC consultation response paper ~ Governance paper  ~ Medium Term Strategy ~ The Pensions Regulator

HMRCRevenue & Customs Brief 37/07

This Brief gives details of an article :Introduction of biofuels simplification.

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