In the News
DH: Forget the rhetoric; is there that much difference between the coalition’s plans and those of the previous government? - The NHS Future Forum has published its recommendations to the Government on the modernisation of health & care.
Set up as an independent group in order to ‘pause, listen and reflect’ on the Health & Social Care Bill, the Forum has made 16 key recommendations, including:
* the pace of the proposed changes should be varied so that the NHS implements them only where it is ready to do so
* nurses, specialist doctors & other clinicians must be involved in making local decisions about the commissioning of care – not just GPs – but in doing this the NHS should avoid tokenism, or the creation of a new bureaucracy
* competition should be used to secure greater choice & better value for patients – it should be used not as an end in itself, but to improve quality, promote integration and increase citizens’ rights
* the drive for change in the NHS should not be based on Monitor’s duty to ‘promote’ competition, which should be removed, but on citizens’ power to challenge the local health service when they feel it does not offer meaningful choices or good quality
Newswire – UNICEF: At least the money won’t be spent on presidential jets & Mercedes - As world leaders converged on London for the GAVI Alliance pledging conference this week, UNICEF called on donors to fund a global immunization effort to save millions of children’s lives by 2015.
It emphasized that the best use of funding for vaccines is to implement programmes that prioritize the hardest to reach children who currently miss out on these simple life-saving vaccines. Currently 1 in 5 children is not vaccinated.
UNICEF is in the unique position of being involved at every stage of the immunization process, supplying vaccines to 56% of the world’s children and working on the ground in over 150 countries and it is a founding partner in the GAVI Alliance.
PX: Keeping them locked up for most of the day does not rehabilitate them - New research from think tank Policy Exchange calls for major reforms to drive an agenda of ‘real work’ in prison.
Ahead of new prison reform proposals to be published by the Ministry of Justice, the study – Inside Job: creating a market for real work in prison – recommends a whole new prison work regime based on full-time, paid employment that is run by private companies, profit-driven & commissioned by prison governors. Offenders would still go to prison – but regimes would do much more to offer proper work for inmates to make them more employable on release.
Newswire – ICO: Data Protection training for staff and ‘responsible managers’ could prove a cost effective investment - The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) recently served Surrey County Council with a monetary penalty of £120,000 for a serious breach of the Data Protection Act after sensitive personal information was emailed to the wrong recipients on 3 separate occasions.
STFC: Don’t just ask for equality of opportunity, help deliver it - The Science and Technology Facilities Council is seeking 4 volunteers to serve on the Women in Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) Focus Group. The Focus Group provides STFC with first hand views & insights into the issues that affect the retention & career development of women working in STFC's areas of science.
The group membership is drawn from female researchers at a range of career stages and, as far as possible, from the different science areas within the STFC remit. The closing date for volunteering is Friday 5 August 2011.
If you wish to volunteer please use the on-line form to provide your contact details, details of research/scientific expertise and, optionally, any particular interest in serving on the Focus Group.
FSA: Better to extend than mess it up - The Financial Services Authority has agreed to temporary arrangements for Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group and RBS to handle Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) complaints.
The arrangements extend the time periods (see press release) the firms have to deal with their backlog of stayed PPI complaints and the high volume of new complaints on PPI. These arrangements have been put in place to ensure that the firms are able to handle the PPI complaints properly.
iea: Independence always comes at a price - Examining the potential impact of the national debt on Scotland, Dr Richard Wellings, Deputy Editorial Director at the Institute of Economic Affairs, said: “At the end of 2010, official UK general government debt was £1,106 billion, equivalent to 76% of GDP. A reasonable way of dividing the national debt to work out Scotland’s fair share might be to base it on the proportion of total public spending devoted to Scotland. Since Scotland currently receives almost 10% of total UK public spending, a figure of around £110 billion could be appropriate”.
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Please note that previously published newsletters can be accessed from the Newsletter Archive
PCS: How Civil Service Pensioners could lose tens of thousands of pounds under the government's pensions plans is shown in an online pensions calculator created by the Public & Commercial Services Union. The calculator provides members of the 3 main civil service schemes: Classic, Premium and Nuvos with estimates of how much the proposed pension changes could cost them between now & their retirement.
MoD: After a mammoth 20-month deployment, Royal Naval survey ship HMS Enterprise last week returned to her home port of Her Majesty's Naval Base Devonport in Plymouth. The oceanographic & hydrographic survey ship has sailed over 50,000 miles (80,500km) during her deployment, which has included operations in West Africa, the Gulf, Gibraltar, Oman and the southern Red Sea.
HMS Enterprise is 1 of 2 Echo Class ships in the Royal Navy and is designed to spend most of her time deployed on operations. It will therefore be a rare moment for HMS Enterprise's crew when the ship ties up at her base port to the awaiting families & well-wishers. The ship operates a watch rotation manning regime, allowing her crew of 76 to regularly rotate, with 50 personnel onboard at any one time.
Defra: Restrictions on exporting sheep & cattle from Great Britain (in place because of bluetongue disease) will be lifted, Agriculture Minister Jim Paice announced this week. The restrictions were imposed in 2007, following the first cases of bluetongue in Great Britain.
Once Great Britain is declared bluetongue free, livestock keepers will no longer be able to vaccinate under EU law. The Government are pressing for changes to be made at European level to allow farmers to use vaccination even when bluetongue zones aren’t in place. Bluetongue Free status will take effect from 5 July 2011, so any farmers wishing to vaccinate should do so before this date.
EH: Are you a heritage angel? Prizes for people who save heritage. New annual English Heritage awards to celebrate the efforts of local people in saving their heritage (supported by Andrew Lloyd Webber) were announced recently in The Daily Telegraph – the media partner for the awards. There will be 4 annual awards for the best rescues or repairs of historic buildings or sites on the English Heritage - Heritage at Risk Register. Entrance closes 12 August, 2011.
EH: Voluntary groups who rescue historic buildings at risk are to get a major boost in the form of a new £2m Challenge Fund put together with a donation of £1m from the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, matched by £1m from English Heritage, administered by the Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF).
NE: The Guardian and Natural England have launched a public competition to rescue unnamed British wildlife from obscurity. The second annual Name a Species competition was launched recently, with the aim of finding a common name for 10 unknown, but amazing British species.
A host of seemingly forgotten species exist in Britain and many are disappearing fast. Known to just a few scientists and identified only by Latin names, they lack the common touch and their decline risks going unnoticed as a result. Anyone can enter the ‘Name a Species’ competition. The closing date & time of the Competition is 12 noon on 25 June 2011..
DCMS: To help inspire & motivate the participants, Sport England's Sporting Champions – a team of current & retired elite athletes – will visit Sportivate sessions to share their experiences & enthusiasm for sport. And, as an additional incentive, participants who stick with sport will have the chance to enter a ballot for London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic tickets through the London 2012 Ticketshare scheme that are paid for by a levy on hospitality packages.
In order to be eligible, participants will need to complete the sports course, missing no more than one session,
Press release & links
FSA: Dr Oetker is recalling some of its ChicagoTown The Deep Dish pepperoni pizza because it might contain small pieces of metal. The Food Standards Agency has issued a Product Recall Information Notice.
UKBA: The UK Border Agency is warning people not to be taken in by scammers demanding cash in return for dealing with immigration cases. The warning follows a report of an individual posing as a Border Agency officer and visiting a pensioner's home to ask for £1,350 to process his partner's visa.
Policy Statements and Initiatives
DWP: Around 2.5m people are expected to be supported through the new Work Programme over the next 5 years, Employment Minister Chris Grayling said recently, as the programme rolls out across the country. Ministers are clear that the Work Programme will tackle the human consequences of endemic worklessness.
Under the new programme providers are free to innovate & design support based on the needs of jobseekers and local labour markets. The Government’s priority is to get people into employment that lasts. In what is a boost to the Big Society, 508 voluntary sector groups including Mencap, the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, youth charity The Prince’s Trust and Action for Blind People will all be involved in delivering the Work Programme.
DECC: Smaller gas & electricity suppliers will benefit from a cut in red tape in time for next year, Energy Minister Charles Hendry announced this week. Firms with 250,000 customers or fewer will not have to take part in two government programmes - the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT) and the Community Energy Saving Programme (CESP). This follows a consultation which originally proposed a threshold of 100,000 customers.
Previously suppliers with as few as 50,000 customers were obliged to participate. Participating in these schemes placed a disproportionate burden on small suppliers, acting as a barrier to market entry and reducing incentives to grow.
CLG: Planning Minister, Greg Clark, recently outlined more support for voluntary & community groups campaigning to save much-loved local assets such as historic pubs, seaside piers or precious market halls, under threat when their owners refuse to sell.
A compulsory purchase order by a council and future development as a community asset can often be the ideal solution. In revised guidance, Greg Clark calls on local authorities to take seriously all viable requests from voluntary & community groups put to them for the compulsory purchase of a threatened community asset.
CLG: Housing Minister, Grant Shapps, has launched plans to give tenants greater support to hold their landlords to account. The Minister argued that new locally-run tenant panels will put power back into the hands of residents, helping them to build the Big Society in their neighbourhoods.
Mr Shapps announced plans for an £535,000 residential training programme, to give tenants the confidence & skills they need to sit on tenant panels so they can represent their neighbours & resolve local disputes such as making sure repairs are made efficiently, and that complaints against anti-social behaviour are dealt with quickly. He has launched a mini-competition for charities & benevolent societies to bid to offer the training needed.
NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recently opened its consultation (closes on Friday 9 September 2011) on the programme manual outlining the proposed process & methods for its Diagnostics Assessment Programme. This new area of work was established by NICE in 2009, to focus specifically on the evaluation of innovative medical diagnostic technologies.
HO: Proposals to strengthen the police & probation services' ability to protect the public & manage registered sex offenders in local communities have been published by the Government.
They are intended to ensure that sex offenders currently required to register with the police for life will have to wait 15 years following their release from prison before they can apply to be considered for removal from the register (this period will be 8 years for juveniles). Consultation closes on 8 Aug 2011 and are expected to come in to force by early 2012.
Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides
NICE: Nearly half of GPs are following NICE advice on the management of lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) in men, 1 year on from the launch of the guideline, a survey has found. Around 1 in 4 men aged 40 and over will experience symptoms, such as needing to urinate urgently or frequently, retention of urine, hesitancy & incontinence.
Prior to the NICE guideline, there was no national guidance for diagnosing & treating these symptoms in men, which meant that GPs were not always using the most effective treatments.
Of those GPs who said they were implementing the guideline, 80% reported that they have seen a reduction in referral costs. GPs who were not following the guideline reported being unsure about when to refer to a specialist, which could lead to unnecessary & costly hospital referrals.
EA: So you’ve watched The Apprentice and want to start your own waste removal business. Well it’s not quite as easy as Lord Sugar’s candidates made it seem. What you didn’t see was all the work that was done behind the scenes by the programme makers to ensure that all the necessary licences & permits were in place and that the candidates didn’t break any of the strict regulations that ensure waste is collected, treated, recycled & disposed of in a way that protects the environment & human health.
Next you’ll need to register as a Waste Carrier if you want to be moving waste in a commercial capacity. Then you need to understand that once you take possession of that waste you have a legal Duty of Care to ensure that it is handled, treated, recycled & disposed of properly – even if you sell it on or pay a third party to get rid of it.
Newswire MAS: Recently the Money Advice Service launched a new money health check that aims to put people in charge of their money. The interactive health check asks a series of straightforward, multiple-choice questions and uses the answers to produce a personal action plan.
In less than 10 minutes, the free & unbiased health check provides a personal action plan to help people stay on top of their money today, and plan to meet future goals. To help the nation take charge and stay in control of their money, they are also launching a national awareness campaign 'Helping you feel good about money'.
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has published its annual report for 2010/11, outlining its performance against the priorities set out in its 2010/11 Business Plan and its statutory objectives. Additional statistical information on the FSA’s work during 2010/11 can be found in the appendices in the report published today, together with the Enforcement Annual Performance Account which sets out details of the FSA's enforcement work.
HEFCE: Universities & colleges across the UK are continuing to improve the quality of their buildings and to use them more efficiently, according to a report published by the Higher Education Funding Council England. 'Performance in higher education estates: EMS Annual Report 2010’ (HEFCE 2011/17) focuses on the performance of UK higher education estates over the 10 years to 2009. In that time, the proportion of buildings in 'good' condition has increased from 63% to 76% and, as a result, infrastructure is better able to support high-quality teaching & research.
NE: More fields than ever before are being managed to halt the decline in farmland bird populations, new figures from Natural England show. Over 152,000 hectares (375,000 acres) of arable farmland are now providing vital winter food & habitat through farmers adopting bird-friendly measures, as part of their Environmental Stewardship (ES) agreements.
The effort to restore the fortunes of farmland birds is being reinforced by the launch of a new compilation CD of their songs, titled “The Best Farmland Bird Album in the World Ever, Volume 1!” The 52 ‘vocalists’ featured on the album are those species most likely to be heard on farmland, including the 10 ‘most wanted’ arable species - rapidly declining birds that are a focus of ES.
Copies will be available free of charge from NE stalls at agricultural shows during the summer, starting with Cereals in Lincolnshire this week on 15-16 June.
HO: Key government achievements in advancing gender equality and eliminating discrimination against women were highlighted in a new report to the UN this week. The UK's 7th periodic report sets out the progress the government has made on women's rights under the United Nation's Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
General Reports and Other Publications
Newswire – CBI: The CBI recently unveiled detailed analysis of the UK labour market, which reveals deep-seated structural problems which will not be solved by a return to economic growth alone. The report, Mapping the route to growth: rebalancing employment, marks the start of a major new project for the CBI which will explore what is needed to get the UK working.
By mapping the state of the labour market region-by-region, the CBI’s analysis reveals that the decade of growth before the recession masked entrenched problems, including pockets of long-term unemployment and inactivity, high public sector dependency and serious skills shortages.
DECC: The Department of Energy and Climate Change recently published an independent study on projected costs & deployment potential for different renewable electricity technologies up to 2030. The aim of the study is to provide baseline data to inform a consultation this summer on support levels for a range of renewable electricity technologies for the period 2013-17 under the Renewables Obligation. The study is an independent assessment of scope & potential of technologies, and not a statement of government policy.
DfE: The Department for Education has updated the information on FreeSchool groups that applied in the first round. Of the 323 proposals received, 41 were approved to move to business case & plan stage or beyond, although one proposal was subsequently withdrawn by the proposer.
CQC: The Care Quality Commission has published the findings of its first full review of compliance of services provided by the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust. Inspectors visited all 4 hospitals in January & February 2011, speaking to patients & staff, and reviewing a wide range of information. All 4 hospitals were found to be compliant with the 16 essential standards that relate most closely to quality & safety.
A separate report will be published next month on concerns which have been raised in relation to procedures in the operating theatres at the Royal Cornwall Hospital at Treliske. Inspectors made an unannounced visit to the hospital on 25 May 2011 after a recent Never event. Never events are serious, largely preventable incidents which should not happen.
PC&PE: The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) has published its legislative scrutiny report on the Education Bill that enhances the powers of staff to search pupils in schools. The report deals with 4 significant human rights issues:
* Extended powers to search pupils
* School exclusion appeals
* Teacher anonymity
* Free early years provision
CC: The Competition Commission (CC) has published its formal response to the Government’s consultation on reforms to the UK competition regime. The government proposals, which were published in March 2011, include merging the CC and competition functions of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) into a single Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
Newswire – CBI: Reform of the competition system is needed to reduce business costs & bureaucracy to free up companies to invest so they can focus on growth & job creation, the CBI said this week, in its response to the Department for Business consultation Options for reform of the competition regime.
Legislation / Legal
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has secured a criminal conviction for boiler room fraud against David Roger Griffiths Mason, who has been sentenced to 2 years in prison and disqualified from being a director for six years.
EU Legislation, Initiatives, etc.
Newswire – NHSConfed: Efforts to increase the numbers of clinical trials carried out in the UK are being hampered by EU rules & bureaucracy, according to the NHS Confederation's European Office. In a submission to the European Commission, the NHS Confederation highlights figures which show that the UK's involvement in global clinical trials has ‘dropped dramatically’ since the introduction of the EU Clinical Trials Directive.
The NHS Confederation is calling for a more streamlined 'one-stop-shop' approach for organisations taking part in clinical trials, with a faster approval process and fewer variations in the way guidelines are interpreted in different countries. A recent report by the Academy of Medical Sciences found that it took an average of 621 days in the UK from a decision to support studies through to the first patient entering a trial, compared to Canada’s 30 - 60 day process.
EU News: The European Commission has proposed to extend the temporary crisis-related derogation that allows European Globalisation Fund (EGF) to be used for workers made redundant as a result of the current financial and economic crisis in addition to those losing their job because of changes in global trade patterns.
This derogation is currently due to expire on 30 December 2011, but the Commission's proposal would extend it until 31 December 2013(i.e. until the end of the implementation period of the EGF Regulation). The proposal reflects the fact that a large number of workers across the EU have been badly affected by the consequences of the current crisis.
EU News: “The European Commission has just proposed to the EU Council of Ministers to close the last four chapters in the accession negotiations with Croatia. This paves the way for Croatia to join the EU as the 28th Member State as of 1 July 2013, if this indicative date proposed by the Commission were to be retained by the Council”, said President José Manuel Barroso on 10 June 2011 in Brussels. These chapters relate to competition policy, financial & budgetary provisions, judiciary, and fundamental rights; as well as other issues.
Charity and Voluntary Sector
DUK: A Diabetes UK survey has found that nearly 1m people in the UK could be risking their health and experiencing emotional distress by keeping their diabetes a secret.
BIG: The Big Lottery Fund will help put new light into the lives of children requiring cleft lip & palate surgery with a grant of £116,992 to White Lantern Film.
The grant is just one of 53 projects sharing in over £15.5m in Reaching Communities funding to help those most in need. The England-wide Spires project by White Lantern Film will focus on improving the level of care, support & understanding to help remove fear & concerns for the children and their families.
AUK: More than 80% of unpaid carers are worried about cuts to services, according to new research for Carers Week 2011 (13-19 June). Almost half don’t know how they will cope as the axe falls on some of the vital support they rely on.
The cuts to services compound the financial sacrifice people make when they start looking after someone who is ill, frail or disabled. Three quarters of those surveyed say they are worse off financially since taking on their caring responsibilities. These are the very people who save the UK economy £119bn each year by relieving pressure on health & social services and serving their communities.
Business and Other Briefings
WO: Wales Office Minister, David Jones, is urging more small companies across Wales to seek support from UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) to help exploit new overseas sales and enter international markets. Mr Jones said some Welsh firms were still unaware of the assistance available from UKTI to help them tap in to valuable markets overseas.
UKTI offers expertise & contacts through its extensive network of specialists in the UK and in British embassies & other diplomatic offices around the world. It provides companies with the tools they require to be competitive on the world stage.
HMRC: New campaigns targeting VAT defaulters, private tutors & e-marketplaces will be launched by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) over the next year. HMRC will use cutting-edge tools such as ‘web robot’ software to search the internet and find targeted information about specified people & companies.
Using the software, the department can pinpoint more accurately people who have failed to pay the right tax. The ‘web robot’, used with the department’s Connect computer system, also helps find people who are trading without telling HMRC. Before designing & launching the campaigns, the department will seek input from interested parties.
This brief clarifies the Climate Change Levy (CCL) guidance in Notice CCL1/2 Combined heat & power schemes which deals with the circumstances in which electricity from a combined heat and power station can be acquired by an electricity utility.
DSA: The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) has signed a 4-year total facilities management contract with Interserve, the services, maintenance & building group. The contract, worth around £12m over its lifetime, has been signed as part of a collaborative procurement process by the Driving Standards Agency (DSA), for agencies across the Department for Transport (DfT) including DSA and the Vehicle & Operator Services Agency (VOSA).
By buying services through one provider, DfT agencies will reduce costs by over 40% and improve services standards across their estate. Interserve will provide services including maintenance, utilities & waste management, cleaning & security and helpdesk, reception & switchboard.
CRUK: Cancer Research Technology, the commercial arm of Cancer Research UK, and Paris-based venture capital firm, Kurma Life Sciences Partners (Kurma), have launched a spin-out company, BliNK Therapeutics Ltd, to generate monoclonal antibodies using a novel platform.
BliNK Therapeutics will develop the novel platform to generate therapeutic & diagnostic monoclonal antibodies towards clinically relevant targets. The technology is based on research carried out by the founding scientists Dr Facundo Batista, at Cancer Research UK’s London Research Institute in collaboration with Professor Vincenzo Cerundolo at the University of Oxford.
The platform technology provides a new way of activating the immune system’s B cells to produce antibodies in response to a specific antigen. Antigens are molecules that cause an immune response and can come from parasites, viruses, bacteria or even cancerous tumour cells, while B cells are the antibody-making factories in the immune system.
ECGD: The Export Credits Guarantee Department, the UK export credit agency, has supported its first export deal under the new Bond Support Scheme. The scheme has supported Glasgow-based CLYDEUNION Pumps' $15m deal to provide safety pumps to China. The deal was taken forward during the Prime Minister's trade visit to China in November 2010.
ECGD's support for the company, which employs more than 900 people in Scotland and Yorkshire and more than 2,000 worldwide, was arranged through HSBC.
DCMS: First major exhibition at the V&A to comprehensively explore aestheticism. The exhibition will be arranged in 4 main chronological sections, charting the development of the Aesthetic Movement in art & design through the decades from the 1860s to the 1890s.
As well as paintings, prints and drawings, the show will include examples of all the 'artistic' decorative arts, together with drawings, designs and photographs, as well as portraits, fashionable dress and jewellery of the era. The exhibition is open until 17 July 2011.
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