In the News
NIA: It is not just peace some people in NI have been waiting years for! - Despite being assessed as fit to leave and keen to move into the community, some learning disability patients in long-stay disability hospitals have been waiting up to 15 years to be resettled.
This is one of a stark set of findings in a report launched last week by the Northern Ireland Assembly Public Accounts Committee; ‘Report on the Resettlement of Long-Stay Patients from Learning Disability Hospitals’.
The Committee also found that the majority of those resettled into the community were relocated to nursing homes & residential accommodation. The Committee considers that moving from one institution to another like this did not provide opportunities for integration within the community and the report calls on the Department to clearly demonstrate how future placements enhance the life of the patient & encourage integration.
In addition, the Committee was concerned that resettlement in the community was not a viable option for some with complex needs. Finally, the report also looks at the issue of costs of future resettlement and concluded that, while some work had been carried out, further research was needed. .
Newswire – IfG: ‘Nothing endures but change’ (Heraclitus of Ephesus) - Machinery of government changes are often announced at short notice, usually poorly managed & always costly, a new study by the Institute for Government and the LSE shows. The report - Making and Breaking Whitehall Departments: A guide to machinery of government changes - makes recommendations to improve the long-standing problems faced when making major changes to the role of Whitehall departments.
Interviews with 34 top civil servants, private sector experts & leading academics described how decisions made in haste about the shape of Whitehall can lead to up to 2 years of disruption. The study recognises that some changes to the machinery of government are necessary, particularly under a new government with new priorities, but it says a more professional & planned approach would minimise costs & reduce the time it takes to be full effective.
The report finds that the Senior Civil Service consider political motivations to be the primary drivers of change - leading to poor planning & unprofessional change management practices. The report identifies 4 specific key themes to machinery of government changes:
* Announced at short notice
* Lack of funding
* Overloaded staff
* Little central support
WAG: Not going to be easy with probable upcoming resource cuts - A major new strategy & delivery plan setting out how the Welsh Assembly Government intends to tackle child poverty in Wales and improve outcomes for children & parents living in low income families has been launched for consultation (closes on 12 August 2010).
The new legislative framework that is now in place, through the Child Poverty Act 2010 and the Children and Families (Wales) Measure 2010 means that, for the first time, there will be a statutory framework to drive child poverty action stretching from the UK Government, the WAG, through to local authorities and other public agencies. Almost a third of Wales’ children – around 200,000 – live in poverty.
An essential element of the new Child Poverty Strategy is to set out a new direction for developing more effective local delivery arrangements that can better meet the needs of low income families and provide them with the integrated support that they need so that they have a clear route out of poverty.
Newswire – CBD: It is not just world economies that are collapsing - Natural systems that support economies, lives & livelihoods across the planet are at risk of rapid degradation & collapse, unless there is swift, radical & creative action to conserve and sustainably use the variety of life on Earth. That is a principal conclusion of 'a major new assessment of the current state of biodiversity and the implications of its continued loss for human well-being'.
The third edition of Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-3), produced by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) confirms that the world has failed to meet its target to achieve a significant reduction in the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010.
PCS: Cutting public sector jobs costs more initially - The Public and Commercial Services union has won a major legal victory against government plans to drastically cut civil service redundancy payments. Following a 2-day judicial review hearing in the High Court in April, Mr Justice Sales ruled last week that the previous government acted unlawfully when it introduced, without PCS’s agreement, a new redundancy scheme reducing the rights staff had accrued over time.
TS – AUK: ‘Deliciousness’ is not a word normally associated with NHS hospital food - Pioneering research from the University of Reading is being used to enhance the taste of hospital food to help prevent or treat malnutrition in older people. The project is supported by celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal and funded by Research into Ageing‚ the medical research arm of Age UK.
The research is using a taste central to Japanese food to modify the sensory properties of food to increase its flavour. ‘Deliciousness’ in foods‚ especially savoury food‚ is enhanced by umami – which is known as the fifth taste and is the Japanese word for delicious and savoury. Umami naturally occurs in shiitake mushrooms‚ tomatoes and tuna to name a few‚ and is commonly found in Marmite and Worcestershire sauce for example.
Researchers at the Department of Food Biosciences at Reading and Clinical Health Sciences are working with The Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust and Heston to modify foods so that older patients in particular will find them more flavoursome.
Newswire – EC: The USA had ‘hanging chaffs’, while we had ‘hanging around voters’ - The Electoral Commission is calling for voters, who were affected by problems at polling stations on Election Day, to contact them. The information will be used to inform a review on the queues that some voters experienced at polling stations, with reports of hundreds of voters unable to cast their ballots before polls closed at 10pm.
Forthcoming event: Gartner SOA & Application Development and Integration Summit, 14-15 June, London - What are the main SOA & ADI challenges being faced by many organizations? The recent online Gartner SOA & Application Development and Integration Summit Survey showed that the top challenges are:
- Implementing SOA Governance
- Proving and measuring the value of SOA
- Getting a business case for application Integration approved
- Getting started with SOA
The Gartner SOA & Application Development and Integration Summit on 14-15 June in London will help you to address these challenges, providing guidance on how to successfully govern, compose and deploy applications in your organization.
Highlights of sessions that address these challenges are:
- The Maturing of SOA Governance
- Communicating the Value of SOA
- Why SOA? Why Now? The Business and Development Case for SOA
- Change Management Basics: If You Want SOA, You’ll Need to Change
- A New Cloud of Reality for SOA, Compositions and the Future of Software
Click here to find out more and to register for this event.
For information on forthcoming public sector events please click HERE to visit the WGPlus Events Calendar
MLA: Sir Terry Wogan is backing this year’s Silver Surfers Day on Friday 21 May 2010, encouraging everyone (especially those over 65 years) to get online at one of the 400 libraries across the UK, which are taking part in the day's activities.
Silver Surfers Day is part of Adult Learners’ Week (15-21 May) aimed at encouraging creativity, diversity & positive effects of informal adult learning. Over 1,500 activities will be held across the UK in libraries, community centres & schools, to help older people get online.
LLUK: Lifelong learning UK has been working with those in the career guidance sector to develop a set of new qualifications. Aimed at those delivering career guidance to adults in England, this framework of 3 new qualifications will help to train staff & encourage progression within the sector.
Although the qualification framework has primarily been developed to meet the needs of practitioners who will be working within the new Adult Advancement and Careers Service in England, the nature of the units mean that they could be used much more widely and are appropriate for anyone providing career information, advice or guidance.
IfL: IfL members can now record & reflect on continuing professional development (CPD) using an Apple iPhone or iPod touch. i-REfLECTis the latest mobile application from IfL designed to make REfLECT, the online personal learning space for IfL members, more accessible.
i-REfLECT allows you to upload images & video; record reflections & activity records; and post any of these to a blog or CPD record. i-REfLECT also lets you tag your assets and view the last 50 assets from your asset store.
ScotGov: Aberdeen's Inverdee House, home to two SEARS (Scotland's Environment and Rural Services) bodies has been officially opened by Rural Secretary Richard Lochhead. The new building is based on an eco-friendly design and is one of only 5 buildings in Aberdeen to have achieved a BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) excellent rating.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
ScotGov: Hundreds of graduates will get help to take up further study and either retrain or enhance their career prospects thanks to new funding. During the past academic year, the ILA500 scheme has provided partial fees support of £500 to more than 400 part-time students on low incomes or benefits.
Reacting to the current economic climate and the higher than usual level of graduates affected by redundancy, the Scottish Government has decided to extend the scheme for another year. It is hoped the scheme will provide immediate, short-term benefit to people affected by the downturn, whether in the workforce, facing redundancy or unemployed.
ScotGov: Every health board in Scotland is to introduce a scheme to free up more nurses' time for direct patient care, thanks to the NHS Quality Strategy, just published. The Releasing Time to Care (RTC) initiative will now be rolled out to all health boards.
Press release ~ The Healthcare Quality Strategy for NHSScotland ~ Watch the video
Newswire - PP: The regulator, PhonepayPlus, has begun a consultation (closes 8 July 2010) on a new stripped-down & simplified outcomes-based Code, with consumers at its heart. Central to the proposed new regime is a Registration Scheme that will ‘shine a light on rogue providers and provide consumers with helpful information on services they may have bought, or are thinking of buying’.
Rather than simply revising the current Code of Practice, PhonepayPlus has built a new Code from the ground up, based on the outcomes that consumers expect when they purchase a service, such as transparency, fairness and a simple process when they encounter a problem.
ScotGov: An industry-led accreditation scheme will be established to give home owners peace of mind when choosing a property manager or land maintenance company. A public consultation (closes on 10 August 2010) on the voluntary scheme was launched last week.
Property managers administer communal areas, roofs & stairwells in an estimated 225,000 flats & tenements across Scotland. Land maintenance companies look after the common green space on many house estates. To join the scheme, property managers will be expected to show clear & transparent accounting & billing systems and to provide clear, written contracts and an explicit & robust complaints procedure.
WAG: A major new strategy & delivery plan setting out how the Welsh Assembly Government intends to tackle child poverty in Wales and improve outcomes for children & parents living in low income families has been launched for consultation (closes on 12 August 2010) – See ‘In the News’ section for more information.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
HSE: The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has launched a newly redesigned website for workers in the woodworking sector. The woodworking industry is one of the most dangerous in the manufacturing sector. Last year over 300 people suffered major injuries and over 1,100 were off work (following an accident) for more than 3 days.
The new website aims to make it easier for workers, supervisors & managers to fully understand the risks they may face and learn how to deal with them. The site includes lots of new information, including woodworking machine demonstration videos & advice on best practice.
There is also a selection of Woodworking Information Sheets (WIS) the Safe use of woodworking machinery Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) and other information that can be downloaded for free.
HL: Homeless Pages, produced by Homeless Link, is the leading source of publications & research on homelessness in the UK. First established in 1998, it now has many new features & easy access to all the latest information about homelessness.
Homeless Pages helps people working to tackle homelessness understand the issues and offer the best services to homeless people. It ensures they have easy access to the latest published information & research on a whole range of issues relevant to homelessness.
The website also helps organisations to share their publications & research to have impact on the widest possible audience. HP is supported by the Communities and Local Government (CLG) and CRASH, the construction industry's charity to help homeless people.
HSE: All the information landlords need to meet their legal duties on domestic gas is now available in one place with the launch of a new website. The Health & Safety Executive (HSE), with support from the National Landlords Association (NLA), has launched the new microsite as a one-stop-shop to help landlords understand what they should be doing to keep tenants safe in any properties they let.
The website breaks down the information into easy to use sections including repair & maintenance, annual gas safety checks & record keeping, as well as giving answers to frequently asked questions.
There are over 6m rental properties in the UK and an estimated 14m people living in them. In 2008/09 15 people died from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning associated with domestic gas appliances, due mainly to gas appliances having been badly fitted or poorly serviced.
WAG: 1,000 Lives Plus, a new 5 year programme to improve patient safety & reduce avoidable harm across NHS Wales has been launched. Good practice developed as part of the Campaign, which includes eliminating hospital acquired pressure ulcers & improving rapid response to acute illness, will now be spread throughout Wales. The programme will introduce new ways of working for health organisations to adopt, including:
* Providing better rehabilitation following a stroke
* Preventing Acute Coronary Syndrome
* Speedier recovery after surgery
* Reducing falls in the community
* Better treatment for depression
* Improving care for dementia sufferers
* Improving maternity services
LLUK: Through consultation with stakeholders and the relevant community of practice, Lifelong Learning UK have produced an application guide that defines the skills, knowledge & understanding that any teacher, tutor or trainer will need to support the development of employability skills in their learners. The application guide focuses on the 4 personal skills required of learners to progress in the world of work.
HSE: Asbestos surveys are only effective if competent surveyors are employed to do them...That is one of the key messages being promoted at roadshows to help explain new guidance devised for those responsible for managing the risks from asbestos.
'Asbestos: The survey guide' (Ref: HSG264) which was published by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) in January 2010 is aimed at those who commission asbestos surveys, the surveyors who carry them out and those who use them such as architects and demolition or removal contractors.
A number of successful road shows, attended by surveyors and health & safety professionals have already taken place, with further events scheduled for Cardiff (19 May 2010), Birmingham (16 June) and London (30 June). For more information contact Louise Hall call 01332 250713 by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Newswire – AC: The Audit Commission's new National Indicator information portal is now available. It provides you with quick & easy access to all the information you need about the National Indicators. Using it you can:
* search for & view the indicators
* create your own guidance documents
* find out about the latest definitions & clarifications
* get answers to frequently asked questions
ScotGov: The 2009 Scottish Social Attitudes Survey (SSAS) reveals that people trust the Scottish Government to act in Scotland's best interests rather than the UK government by a factor of more than two-to-one. The survey shows 61% of people trusting ScotGov to act in the country's interests, compared to 25% for the UK government.
The SSAS was launched by the Scottish Centre for Social Research in 1999 following devolution. The Office of the Chief Researcher has funded a core module of questions on attitudes to government in Scotland since 2004. There was no survey in 2008.
General Reports and Other Publications
STFC: This weekend (Sunday 16th May 2010) marked the 50th anniversary of the laser. For an invention that, at the time, experts referred to as a ‘solution looking for a problem’, the laser has come a very long way and underpins some of the last half century’s most influential technologies, not least the optical fibres which make today’s high speed internet possible.
Indeed the laser has had a profound & far reaching impact on a whole range of sectors from manufacturing, retail & medicine to entertainment and communications.
But physicists assert that the lasers usefulness has much further to go – the best is yet to come! A detailed look at the development of the laser since its invention and an insight into future applications can be found in STFC’s brochure or leaflet - Lasers in our lives – 50 years of impact’.
LLUK: In 2009-10, Lifelong Learning UK (LLUK) conducted various pieces of research work covering the wider further education sector in England. A summary report outlining the key findings, issues & recommendations arising from the research reports can be found on the LLUK website.
Newswire – FC: A pioneering 6-year survey to create the first full record of Scotland's remaining native woodlands has reached its first major mile stone. Carried out by Forestry Commission Scotland, with support from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), the Native Woodland Survey of Scotland (NWSS) aims to detail the extent, nature & condition of the native woodlands in all of Scotland’s local authority areas.
The first 8 summary reports published last week cover the local authority areas for Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee, North, South and East Ayrshire and East Renfrew.
In addition to the summary reports, the survey data is available online to enable woodland owners and managers, partner agencies and local authorities, to inform their woodland management, planning and decision making processes.
Legislation / Legal
ScotGov: Plans to update laws to protect wildlife and the environment have received widespread support. The Wildlife and Natural Environment Bill, which will soon be introduced to the Scottish Parliament, proposes more robust & collaborative deer management policies, reform of game laws and strengthened rules to prevent the introduction & spread of invasive non-native species.
Consensus was reached on plans to update laws on shooting game, some of which date from the 18th century, and to address weaknesses in the current legal framework.
NIA: The Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for the Environment is beginning the Committee Stage of the Waste and ContaminatedLand (Amendment) Bill. Any organisation or individual with an interest in the proposed Bill can submit written evidence to the Committee (by Friday 28 May 2010).
ScotGov: ‘A big step in securing the future of crofting as a way of life was taken last week’ after the Scottish Parliament endorsed the principles of the Crofting Reform (Scotland) Bill, which was introduced to Parliament on December 9, 2009. It follows the Crofting Reform etc. (Scotland) Bill in 2006 and Committee of Inquiry on Crofting in 2008.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
Newswire – EU: The European Civil Protection Mechanism was established in 2001 to support the mobilisation of emergency assistance in the event of major disasters. EU & neighbouring countries are periodically affected by natural & man-made disasters. The primary responsibility for dealing with the immediate effects of a disaster lies with the country where it has occurred.
Nevertheless, when the scale of the emergency overwhelms national response capabilities, a disaster-stricken country can benefit from civil protection means or teams in other EU countries. This also applies to countries outside the EU – any country in the world can call on the European Civil Protection Mechanism for assistance.
Newswire – EU: The European Commission has issued its 2010 Convergence Report, which assesses progress with convergence in countries with derogation from euro area membership. The assessment takes place against the background of the global financial crisis, which has affected the prospects for nominal convergence.
The 9 Member States with a so-called 'derogation' have made uneven progress on the road to the single currency, and 8 of them do not yet meet all the conditions for euro adoption. However, Estonia stands out from the group, fulfilling the criteria clearly, as a result of determined and efficient efforts by the Estonian government & Estonian people.
Therefore, the Commission concluded that Estonia meets the criteria for adopting the euro and made a proposal to the Council to this effect. The Council of EU finance ministers (ECOFIN) will take the final decision on the adoption of the euro in Estonia in July 2010, after the Parliament has given its opinion and the EU Heads of State and Government have discussed the subject at their summit meeting in June 2010.
Newswire – EO: The European Ombudsman, P. Nikiforos Diamandouros, has called on the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) to reconsider its refusal to give access to documents related to a drug used to treat severe forms of acne.
The complainant, an Irish citizen, specifically asked for reports on suspected adverse reactions to the drug, such as reactions giving rise to suicidal tendencies. EMEA refused access, arguing that EU transparency rules do not apply to adverse reaction reports. The Ombudsman did not agree. In his view, the EU transparency rules apply to all documents held by EMEA. EMEA is invited to submit a detailed opinion by 31 July 2010.
Business and Other Briefings
This Revenue & Customs Brief provides information on a relief scheme being introduced on 1 April 2010 for biodiesel produced from waste cooking oil.
WAG: The British Gas Green Skills Training Centre in Tredegar, South Wales, has been officially opened by Carwyn Jones, First Minister of Wales. The centre is a first for the UK and aims to train over 1,300 people each year, including local long term unemployed people. The Heads of the Valleys has the lowest employment rate in Wales – 64%, compared with 71% nationally.
Developed in partnership with the Welsh Assembly Government, JobMatch, Jobcentre Plus, SummitSkills and Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council, the state-of-the-art centre will offer training & qualifications for would-be energy efficiency assessors, installers of new green technologies as well as upskilling opportunities for British Gas engineers.
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