In the News
DH: The price of health is continuing prevention - The Department of Health claims that it is making extra vaccine and more funds available to help local health trusts put in place a campaign to vaccinate every child up to the age of 18 against measles. In a letter sent to all Primary Care Trusts (PCTs), the Chief Medical Officer asks them to help reduce the risk of a measles epidemic by offering the MMR vaccine to every child up to the age of 18 who has not been vaccinated.
The number of cases of measles in England is rising following a decade of relatively low vaccine uptake. In 2006 and 2007 there were 1,726 confirmed cases in England & Wales - more than the previous ten years put together. From 1996 to 2005 there were just a total of 1,621 confirmed cases.
It is estimated that around 3m children aged 18 months to 18 years have missed either their first or second MMR vaccination. Between 1992 and 2006 there were no deaths from acute measles in England. However there was one death in 2006 and another in 2008.
Estimates suggest that a measles epidemic in Britain could result in 30,000 cases or in a worst case scenario more than 100,000 cases of measles in children & young people. These children & young people will also be susceptible to mumps and rubella.
PCTs receive funding for immunisation as part of their annual settlement. The DH will provide an additional sum to assist PCTs with initiating the programme. London PCTs will receive £60,000 while PCTs outside London will receive £30,000.
HC: Never again, hopefully - NHS and private healthcare providers have taken positive steps to improve the monitoring & management of controlled drugs following the Shipman Inquiry. However, the main finding of a new Healthcare Commission report is that more work is necessary to ensure all concerns are picked up, investigated and, where appropriate, action is taken.
The report outlines the steps that have been taken to improve monitoring of controlled drugs since the Controlled Drugs (Supervision of Management and Use) Regulations came into force in England on 1 January 2007, which gave the Healthcare Commission an overarching responsibility to coordinate this work.
The regulations followed the Government’s response to the fourth Shipman Inquiry report, The Regulation of Controlled Drugs in the Community (July 2004) and provide a new legislative structure for the safer management of drugs that are liable to abuse, including narcotics such as diamorphine.
ScotGov: Eat local and eat well - The Scottish Government has announced that £6m will be invested in businesses producing, processing and marketing local food to help put more local food on Scots' dinner tables. In line with the emerging national food & drink policy, businesses will work closer together, forming local food networks and creating a healthier, more environmentally-friendly supply chain ‘from farm gate to plate’.
Capital grants from the National Food Processing, Marketing and Co-operation Scheme have been awarded for a total of £5,997,230 to 27 companies. The scheme is provided under the Scotland Rural Development Programme (SRDP). It does not cover fish, which will be covered by the European Fisheries Fund due to launch later this year.
Up to £10m per year is available to food processors and producers to help:
* Construct new facilities, refurbish existing premises and purchase new equipment
* Support marketing & business, including website development & consumer education
* Provide resources to support collaboration within the food chain such as distribution and accessing markets
ACE: You cannot please everybody all of the time - The Arts Council England has recently published its response to the McIntosh Review – an independent report commissioned by Chief Executive Alan Davey, which examines the process used to reach funding decisions last February.
Baroness Genista McIntosh’s report recognises that the Arts Council has ‘not only the right but the responsibility’ to make hard decisions about funding, but makes a number of recommendations about how that process should be handled in future.
LL UK: An excellent way to find educational information - Lifelong Learning UK reports that the Quality Improvement Agency’s (QIA) Excellence Gateway, a complete online service for all those working in the FE system in England, has been going from strength to strength. Only a year since its launch - the latest data shows a total of 43,460 unique visitors representing almost a 50% rise in less than five months and a 480% increase over the year.
The Excellence Gateway is the largest further education portal available and the main online service for those working in the sector. It incorporates some 50 education websites, a resource bank comprising over 75,000 pages and more than 12,000 separate pieces of content.
These include the quality-assured inspection related materials from the Ofsted Good Practice Database, the new Excellence Gateway TV channel and a news service. Registration & use of the Excellence Gateway is completely free and allows further education staff to save their searches and bookmark resources for future use, submit their own resources, as well as rate & review resources for other users.
BERR: A new focus on consumer rights - The new body being set up by the Government to fight for the rights of consumers will be called Consumer Focus and it will start work on 1 October 2008, merging:
* the National Consumer Council
* Scottish Consumer Council
* Welsh Consumer Council
* energywatch and
Cabinet Office: How risky is it living in the UK - As announced in the National Security Strategy published earlier this year, the Cabinet Office has published the National Risk Register which sets out the Government assessment of the likelihood and potential impact of a range of different risks that may directly affect the UK. The register also includes details of what the Government and emergency services are doing to prepare for emergencies.
Press release ~ National Risk Register ~ National Security Strategy ~ UK Resilience ~ Risk and Regulation Advisory Council (RRAC) ~ Public Risk - The Next Frontier for Better Regulation ~ Risk, responsibility and regulation. Whose risk is it anyway?
Industry News: Comet Business Services celebrates its 20 year anniversary - Comet Business Services was founded 20 years ago after a request from an organisation requiring a bulk order delivery. Since then, the specialist division has gone from strength to strength, and has amassed a wealth of experience most notably in the Public Sector market. And whilst the business is unrecognisable from the fledgling department 20 years ago, the philosophy remains the same – to offer the widest range of products, at great prices supported by the best possible service.
Today, Comet Business Services offers solutions for a variety of Public Sector organisations with services including up to 10% discount via the Public Sector Discount Card, 4 hour delivery slots, next day delivery, installation and repair, warranties and their Green Collection.
For more Industry News please click HERE
For information on forthcoming public sector events please click HERE to visit the WGPlus Events Calendar
MoD: Plans for a major new defence centre in North Wiltshire have been given the green light by Defence Minister Derek Twigg. The project, known as 'Corsham09', will accommodate 2,200 Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) personnel and their industry partners on the Basil Hill site in Corsham.
The PFI contract for the site is worth £690m under a 25-year PFI deal and will combine offices from the Corsham area. Construction work will start in November 2008 and will include brand new single living accommodation for 180 service men & women and an operational command building for the DE&S ISS Headquarters and Global Operations Security & Control Centre (GOSCC).
PCS: The PCS union reacted with anger recently as the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) gave the go ahead to end passport processing in Scotland at the cost of 114 jobs at the Glasgow passport office.
The union vowed to campaign against the decision, which will see a quarter of the workforce go as part of a restructuring exercise and result in the Glasgow office stopping passport processing by the end of the year. However in response to PCS action and representations management have agreed a stay of execution and held off announcing further closures until after 2011.
OS: Ordnance Survey’s leading GI strategist is being seconded to Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) to help lead the UK’s implementation of the UK Location Strategy (UKLS) and the EU INSPIRE Directive.
The EU INSPIRE Directive provides a common European framework that defines what needs to be undertaken to achieve interoperable and integrated data across the continent. A joined‑up approach to creating, recording and using GI will benefit organisations and businesses across the EU.
The UKLS, due to be published in the near future, is expected to align with the INSPIRE framework. A common governing body will be established to coordinate how the UK will deliver on both elements.
NA: For the first time you can now search & download the medal index cards of more than 20,000 soldiers who served in the Indian Army during World War One. The cards record the soldiers who were entitled to, or made a claim for, campaign medals - in particular the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
In addition, also for the first time you can now search & download service records of officers who served in the Royal Navy. These records were kept by the Admiralty from the 1840s and record service for warrant officers joining the Royal Navy up to 1931 and commissioned officers joining the service up to 1917, including King George VI.
Defra: Defra has launched a new public information film (filler) to highlight the risks travellers face if they bring illegal food products into the UK. Although the sixty second film, 'Don't Bring Me Back', takes a humorous and light-hearted approach, with puppets made to look like food that sing to travellers, the message is very serious.
It focuses on the personal inconvenience of being delayed at the airport as a result of baggage searches by UK Border Agency staff and of having any illegal foods seized, but ends with the stark warning about the possibility of causing a disease outbreak and also facing prosecution.
BERR: The Energy Secretary, John Hutton, has announced the approval of the UK's fourth largest offshore wind farm. The 315MW offshore wind farm (Sheringham Shoal) is planned off the coast of Norfolk and the development by Scira Offshore Energy Ltd will comprise of up to 108 turbines, enough to power the equivalent of around 178,000 homes with clean, green electricity.
TSB: The Technology Strategy Board and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) are to jointly invest over £10m in sixteen innovative research & development (R&D) projects into materials technologies that will help meet the country's energy challenges.
The focus of the projects will be on the development of technologies and materials for energy generation, transmission & distribution, storage and conservation. The projects include R&D in areas such as:
* Energy efficient bio-based natural fibre insulation
* New materials & methods for energy efficient tidal turbines
* Sustainable power cable materials technologies with improved whole life performance
* A new manufacturing process to produce a novel cellular vacuum insulation panel for retrofit into buildings, to reduce heat loss / energy
Directgov: Research by Directgov shows that 38% of people have had to look for a GP or pharmacy, 5% have needed a dentist and 20% worry about having an accident or falling ill while on holiday in the UK - but for those taking a break in England this summer, help is just a text away.
Directgov and NHS Choices are piloting a new mobile service in England to help you find assistance in those unexpected moments and locations. Whether you need a dentist, GP or another health service while you are holidaying in England, by sending a text to 64746, the new service can help you find the nearest health facilities, whenever you need them and wherever you might be.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
DH: An extra £2m funding, announced during World Breastfeeding Week (1-7 August), will hopefully help improve the UK's breastfeeding rate which is among the lowest in Europe.
The £2m will help support hospitals in disadvantaged areas to achieve Unicef Baby-Friendly Status, a set of best practice standards for maternity units & community services on improving practice to promote, protect and support breastfeeding. Progress will be monitored through measuring the prevalence of breastfeeding at 6 to 8 weeks in all Primary Care Trusts as a key indicator of Child Health & Wellbeing PSA target.
DWP: ‘New’ research concludes that more than 90% of people with health problems can be helped to return to work by following a few principles of good health care and work place management. Simple measures, alongside structured support for those who need extra help, could reduce long term sickness absence and the number of workers going on to long term incapacity benefits by up to 60%.
The review - Vocational Rehabilitation: What works, for whom, and when? - shows effective return to work depends on two key strands:
* Healthcare which includes a focus on work - this means early intervention which is tailored to meet the individual needs
* Workplaces that are accommodating - incorporating a proactive approach to supporting return to work and the temporary provision of modified work (The government have proposed doubling the amount of money they make available to employers to adapt the workplace to accommodate employees with specific needs)
The recent Green Paper No One Written Off: reforming welfare to reward responsibility included proposals to give people more support through a personalised back to work programme to address their health & skills needs precisely to address these issues.
In addition, further independent research from the Social Policy Research Unit at the University of York and the Institute for Employment Studies in Brighton has shown with the right support people with mental health problems can get back into work and for many having a job may actually help with their recovery.
BERR: A new Government drive to crack down on rogue employers who abuse vulnerable workers and undercut honest businesses has been unveiled, along with the final report of the Vulnerable Workers Enforcement Forum. The strategy includes:
* a single telephone helpline for vulnerable workers to report abuses to enforcement agencies
* breaking down barriers so agencies can share vital information to catch rogue employers and
* a £6m information campaign to raise awareness of employment rights and how to enforce them
The crack down will be overseen by a new Fair Employment Enforcement Board which will co-ordinate the work of the government enforcement agencies covering minimum wage, health & safety, employment agencies and gangmasters.
ScotGov: Improving dental facilities across Scotland will be a top priority for health boards who have just been allocated £75m of capital funding (split £35m for 2009-10 and £40m for 2010-11), which represents an increase of more than 17% over the two years on 2008-9's baseline target funding of £32m.
Following the funding announcement, NHS boards across Scotland must now prepare detailed proposals on how they wish to spend their allocations, for ministerial approval. Plans must be submitted early in October.
DH: People with learning disabilities are to benefit from £96m in Government funding that will help provide them with better healthcare, community support and employment prospects. The revenue funding (ring-fenced for three years from 2008/09 until 2010/11) is intended to payfor costs incurred as a result of people with learning disabilities moving from ‘campuses’ to ‘housing in the community’.
This will include:
* support for health action planning
* workforce training & development
* advocacy support for more inclusive community based activities and
* help to get people into employment
This follows on from the £175m announced last year for Primary Care Trusts to help with the capital costs of closing institutional NHS accommodation and providing what the government claims is ‘more appropriate community arrangements for those with learning disabilities’, which is intended to give people the opportunity to develop important social skills and the freedom to make everyday decisions.
WAG: Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones has confirmed that the government will back the work of the 'dotCYM' campaign in bidding for a national domain name for Wales on the world-wide web. Provision of £20,000 is being made to develop the campaign during this financial year following a decision by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in June to admit a range of new names to the internet addressing system.
Success for the campaign would mean that people in Wales could chose to have a Welsh internet domain address .cym as well as .uk, .eu, .com or .org. This would give organisations, companies and individuals the option of a distinctive address on a par with those of other nations, including Catalonia, which gained a domain after a campaign led by puntCAT, an umbrella organisation representing 98 language and cultural movements.
HO: People who take drugs to enhance their physical appearance, including those who aspire to take part in the 2012 London Olympics, are being warned against using anabolic steroids as the Government announced its intention to add a further 24 anabolic steroids and two growth promoters to the list of those already classed as Class C drugs.
These drugs are already banned by sports authorities but they are not illegal at present. The Government recognises the harms associated with the use of anabolic steroids and the move is to ensure that its drug controls are up to date, with the latest evidence of harms and availability of this group of drugs.
The Government also announced its intention to consider controls for the chemical precursors Gamma-butyrolactone (GBL) and 1,4 butanediol (also known as 1,4-BD). When ingested rapidly, they convert to gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB), which is a Class C drug and has been cited in cases of date rape.
DCMS: A package of measures to reduce bureaucracy and save money for managers of licensed premises has been published for consultation (closes on 1 September 2008). In future any pub, village hall, off-licence or other licensed premises that wants to make a minor change to the terms of their licence (e.g. a small-scale refurbishment) will be able to use a cheaper, simpler & quicker process to vary the terms of their licence as long as the change will not affect the licensing objectives and does not involve alcohol.
The simplified process could save licensees up to £250, with a much simpler application form and a reduced flat rate fee of £73.00. It is expected that the changes will save licence holders a total of£1.9 - £2.5m a year.
The Government has also published proposals to reduce bureaucracy & costs for village halls and similar community premises that sell alcohol. Under the new arrangements, a management board or committee would have collective responsibility for the licence & supervision of the premises and the sale of alcohol, rather than one individual.
TfL: Following Mayor Boris Johnson’s promise to consult on the abolition of half-yearly black cab inspections, the Public Carriage Office (PCO) has launched a consultation on taxi and private hire vehicle licensing inspections in London.
Organisations representing London’s travelling public and businesses, local authorities and the taxi & private hire industries have until Friday 24 October 2008 to submit their views on three alternatives for the future licensing arrangements.
DfT: The consultation period on Learning to Drive - which considers possible changes to the way new drivers are trained & tested - has been extended by an extra 30 days and will now conclude on Monday, October 6.
Launched on May 7, 2008, the consultation has been extended to allow extra time for participation by young people, especially those in education, at universities, colleges and schools.
WAG: Proposals for a new fund to help sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses diversify & improve their Post Offices have been unveiled by Deputy Minister for Regeneration, Leighton Andrews. The new fund (which will open on 1 January 2009) will provide an opportunity for sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses to strengthen their businesses and make them sustainable in the long term for the benefit of the communities they serve.
Last week saw the start of a consultation (closes on 30 October 2008) on the proposals which will fulfil a One Wales agreement commitment to reinstate & refocus the Post Office Development Fund. Comments are also being sought on whether the fund should be targeted at deprived and isolated communities. Consideration will also be given to whether a grant would help provide a distinct social purpose for the community for example support for the last retailer in the village.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
DH: From September 2008, parents of children who have been weighed & measured at school could automatically receive their child's results in a bid to get parents to be more aware about healthy lifestyles. The National Child Measurement Programme weighs & measures the height of all primary school children in reception class and Year 6 (aged 4-5 and 10-11).
The Government is urging Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) to send parents the results so that parents don't have to ask for them. At this stage, about 40% of local primary health care trusts have said they intend to automatically contact parents in the next school year and a further 40% will decide when they see the new guidance issued this week, which will help PCTs implement this approach and includes example letters for parents.
ACE: Arts Council England has recently published its Annual Review for 2008, which looks back and reports on their activities & achievements from Spring 2007 to 2008. Grants for the arts, their open access funding programme, celebrated its fifth year in April 2008 and made over 2,800 grants totalling nearly £57m using a simplified application process.
Their investment strategy process brought in over 80 new regularly funded organisations, gave over 750 an above-inflation increase, while 185 had their funding withdrawn, thus raising a number of issues, as highlighted in the media.
TfL: More than five years after the Congestion Charge was launched and over a year after the western extension began, traffic in central London remains 21% lower than pre-charge levels and traffic entering the western extension has fallen by 14%. However, Transport for London’s (TfL’s) Sixth Annual Impacts Monitoring Report also reveals that decreasing levels of road space in both the original and western zones has caused congestion to return to levels experienced before the charge was introduced.
A widespread programme of water and gas main replacement works has greatly reduced the road capacity in both zones. For example, work at the Scotch House Corner junction in Knightsbridge has reduced road capacity at this key junction by up to half and had a negative impact on traffic in the area.
Boris Johnson has asked TfL to accelerate the delivery of his plans to improve traffic flow including:
* the re-phasing of traffic signals
* the use of steel plating to cover excavations when work is not in progress
* allowing motorbikes to ride in bus lanes (first lanes to open later this year) and
* the development of plans for the introduction of a Paris-style bike hire scheme
RFA: The Renewable Fuels Agency (RFA) has published its first monthly report on the supply of biofuels under the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO), covering the period 15 April - 14 May 2008. Biofuels accounted for 2.14% of UK road fuel against a target for the year of 2.5 %.
Greenhouse gas savings of 42% were achieved, but this figure excludes the emissions from indirect changes in land-use considered in the recent 'Gallagher Review'. The Agency has recommended that indirect effects are included in future sustainability reporting and is working with the Government to identify a way to do this.
General Reports and Other Publications
ScotGov: The Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth, John Swinney, has welcomed the first report of the Regulatory Review Group. Among the report’s recommendations are:
* ScotGov & business should move to a way of creating & changing regulation which is a true partnership between both parties
* A new shorter & simpler Business Impact Assessment should be introduced
* Each Government Department and regulator that introduces or enacts legislation affecting business has a group of businesses that it uses to 'road test' all relevant legislative literature and forms prior to implementation
* ScotGov should have the right to make its own case directly to the EU where it feels this is necessary rather than relying upon the relevant Westminster Department
* Proposals that will allow regulators to adopt a more common sense approach in enforcing regulations
MoD: Minister for Armed Forces, Bob Ainsworth, has welcomed the House of Commons Defence Committee report on the contribution of UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) to ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) capability.
Quoting extracts from the summary of the report:
At the start of 2008 the Army had a 48% deficit in UAV operators, although the MoD says that the deficit has had no impact on operational theatres. UAVs are collecting increasing amounts of imagery, in particular through the use of Full Motion Video. To optimise the value of the imagery collected the MoD requires imagery analysts. There is currently an 18% deficit in imagery analysts in the RAF.
The MoD has acquired a range of UAVs which collect ISTAR information. However, improvements are required in how the information collected is processed and disseminated. Two major programmes - Defence Information Infrastructure and DABINETT- are expected to deliver these improvements. It is vital that they are delivered to the planned timetable so that the ISTAR information collected can be fully exploited.
BERR: A report published by the Better Regulation Executive examines how health & safety regulation affects low risk and small businesses. It sets out recommendations to save these firms time & money, while improving working environments and general understanding of health & safety.
The average company spends around 20 hours a year, or more than £350, on administration meeting health & safety requirements. Cutting the time spent by just 5 hours per company would save low risk businesses £150m a year.
In addition, the report suggests that some firms are paying for private sector external support they could do more cheaply in-house or are going beyond what is required by the law - with little or no benefit in the workplace. Low risk businesses could save up to £140m a year if 20% turned to the HSE or other government sources for basic support on health & safety, rather than consultancies.
HC: Between January and April 2008, more than 69,000 people in England were asked about their experiences of GP practices and health centres and about access to dentists. The survey, co-ordinated for the Healthcare Commission by the Picker Institute Europe, covered topics such as access to appointments, waiting times and patients’ relationships with NHS staff.
Alongside the results, the Commission will release on its website - for the first time - a national overview with comparative scores for all 152 primary care trusts in England, the organisations that buy services from GPs and dentists. The independent healthcare watchdog says the results will help trusts to understand the views of their patients and respond to any concerns.
ESRC: The links between HIV transmission and the degree to which people are able to adopt realistic plans to achieve future projects, in other words ‘HOPE’ have been overlooked in policies to tackle HIV/AIDS. New research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) argues that hope is a powerful tool in the battle to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS.
People with ‘hope for the future’ are less likely to engage in activities in the present that put them at risk of illness in the future. Those without hope for the future, by contrast, place a low value on the future. For example, men who lack hope for the future may be unwilling to surrender immediate pleasure in return for a far-off future benefit by wearing a condom.
ScotGov: The Registrar General for Scotland has published a short paper analysing the number of drug-related deaths in Scotland. The key points include:
* There were 455 drug-related deaths in 2007 - 8% more than in 2006 and 103% more than in 1997
* The number of drug-related deaths rose in 8 of the past 10 years
HEFCE: The higher education (HE) sector does not view quality assurance issues as a barrier to engaging with employers, according to a report published recently by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).
The report, compiled by the Quality Assurance Task Group on employer engagement, concludes that the quality assurance tools & processes currently in place for the HE sector are sufficient to deal with the current challenges of the employer engagement agenda. The report highlights, however, that there is a need to share successful quality assurance strategies and monitor the situation.
Legislation / Legal
Defra: The Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (England) Regulations 2008 came into force last week. These revoke & remake, with amendments, the Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (No 2) Regulations 2006, which enforced Regulation (EC) No 999/2001 of the European Parliament and the Council.
These lay down the rules for the prevention, control and eradication of certain transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), as amended. The new Regulations include amendments that have been made in response to changes in EU legislation and as a result of experience gained in administering the 2006
Charity and Voluntary Sector
BIG: Londoners of all ages will be receiving much needed support after 4 good causes secured more than £720,000 from the Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching Communities programme - dedicated to improving the lives of local people across England.
Business and Other Briefings
This Revenue & Customs Brief gives important news for Trust or Company Service Providers (TCSPs) and Accountancy Service Providers (ASPs) - MLR 9 Registration Notice updated and registration dates announced.
Editorial Content Statement
WGPlus would like to make it clear that the commentary & links provided, in respect
of any particular item, are published in its capacity as an independent
non-government funded organisation and reflect the editorial team’s need
to both précis & re‑format the content of news releases.
Any views expressed are therefore entirely those of the WGPlus editorial team and
independent of any sponsor, government organisation or political party.
For the official view of a source
organisation, readers should click
on the ‘press release’ that is the first link attached to each
Speed of download - Readers are reminded that some documents linked to can be large (VL)
or even very, very large (VVL) and may take some time to download, even with a
broadband link. Readers are encouraged to be patient.
While every care is taken to ensure that all links
’work’ in the newsletter (including checking just before
publication), WGPlus cannot guarantee that websites will not make changes that
will nullify individual links, especially over a period of
WGPlus is not responsible for the content of external