NAO:  NHS IT needs second opinion - The National Audit Office (NAO) has published a report into the £12.4 billion national programme for IT in the NHS, the largest single IT investment in the UK to date.


Whilst the report largely praises the way in which contracts were secured and are being handled, it comments that the "main implementation phase of the Programme and the realisation of benefits are mainly a matter for the future and it will therefore be some time before it is possible to fully assess the value for money of the Programme".


News reports have quoted ministers as saying that there perhaps should have been more consultation with clinicians.


The report also highlights delays in delivering the NHS Care Records Service, although the suppliers have borne the cost of overcoming difficulties in delivering the software, not the taxpayer.


Other key points in the report include:

·        There are significant concerns amongst some staff that the Programme is moving slower than expected, that clarity is lacking as to when systems will be delivered and what they will do.

·        Key elements of the project have been delayed, some by as much as two years.

·        The take up of the system to support patient choice has been slower than initially planned.

Press release ~ NAO Executive Summary ~ NAO Full Report ~ Qinetiq report: NHS Connecting for Health ~ NHS Connecting for Health ~ Delivering the National Programme for IT ~ BBC News article ~ BBC News Q&A: NHS IT upgrade ~ Choose and Book web site

DCA:  Justice beyond the grave? - The Government has published its draft of the Coroner Reform Bill, which aims to offer bereaved families a better service from inquests.


The Bill, prompted by incidents such as the Harold Shipman case, intends to:

·         Give the bereaved more access into the investigation of the death.

·         Enable relatives of the dead to ask the coroner for a second opinion on a death certificate.

·         Empower relatives of the dead to challenge a coroner's decision and make a complaint or appeal a chief coroner, a new position also created under the Bill.


The Coroner Reform Bill will also be the first Bill that will be written in two ways – in traditional parliamentary language and also in plain English.


The Bill will also be subject to pre-legislative scrutiny by families with recent experience of the inquest system.  Ministers claim the feedback from the pre-legislative scrutiny received from the public will help shape the details of the reforms planned.

Press release ~ Draft Coroner Reform Bill ~ The Coroners Society of England and Wales ~ Independent fundamental review of coroner and death certificate systems, chaired Tom Luce CB (316 pages)


FCO:  A new agenda for Europe - Europe Minister Geoff Hoon has put forward a new agenda for Europe - setting out why the EU is central to tackling many of the major concerns of the UK public.


Following concerns regarding the disconnection between voters and the UK Parliament, along with a Eurobarometer research revealing the same disconnection with European institutions, Mr Hoon is now making it his mission to prove the importance of European co-operation to our lives today and tomorrow. At a seminar hosted by the Centre for European Reform, he said:

"An inability to see how events in Brussels affect life and work in the UK is magnified by the effect the continuing debate on the future of Europe has on the British public.


We need to show the British people that the European Union can and does make a difference to their lives.


And more importantly - show that the EU is not only setting out a new agenda which tackles the issues people really care about, but is central to solving many of the most pressing problems of the 21st century."


The new Eurobarometer research specific to the UK is due out this week. Further announcements will be made by the European Commission and FCO in due course.

Press release ~ Full speech ~ Eurobarometer survey (VLF 2.17Mb)EU Commission Representation in the UK ~ Britain in the EU - FCO ~ European Movement ~ Forum Europe ~ UK and the European Union (Directgov)


ESRC:  Faith in the community - Attempts to get faith groups involved in the wider community could backfire and lead to cynicism among members unless carefully handled, according to the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) in their new booklet ‘Faith-based voluntary action’.


The booklet warns that whilst faith groups’ values and principles play a role in the regeneration of communities, sometimes tensions can arise between them and those responsible for making and carrying out policies.


Campbell Robb, Director of Public Policy at National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) said:

“There is a lot of interest today in encouraging community involvement.


It is clearly important to understand what motivates people to participate, what turns them off, and what contribution many, including those involved in faith groups, are already making to building a society that is inclusive and cohesive.”


The 'Faith-based voluntary action’ booklet was produced to accompany the first in a series of special seminars entitled ‘Engaging Citizens’, organised by the ESRC in collaboration with the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), the first of these was held in London on June 15.

Press release ~ ESRC seminar webpage ~ National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) ~ Institute for Volunteering Research (IVR) faith report ~ Home Office: Faith and Religion website


FDA:  The First Division Association (FDA) has said the Belfast Telegraph’s attack on pay for permanent secretaries in the Northern Ireland Civil Service is unfair and ill-informed.


FDA general secretary Jonathan Baume said:

“This attack on the pay of Nigel Hamilton and other Northern Ireland Civil Service permanent secretaries is unfair and ill-informed.


It is unfair because the Belfast Telegraph is well aware that Senior Civil Servants are unable to publicly respond to such attacks.


The salaries paid to permanent secretaries are modest in comparison to salaries available elsewhere in the public sector, never mind the private sector."


The Belfast Times article alleges that that most senior officials have been receiving performance bonuses of up to £11,000 a year - bringing some annual pay packages to the £130,000 mark.


The proportion of senior civil servants qualifying for bonus payouts has also risen - from 61% in 2003/04 to 72% in 2004/05.


The issue follows a period of time when rank and file civil servants were involved in lengthy industrial action over their wages.

Press release ~ Belfast Telegraph article ~ First Division Association response ~ 2006 Report on Senior Salaries ~ Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance (NIPSA) pay campaign ~ Senior Salaries Review Body website ~ Civil Service Pay - Performance and Reward ~ Department of Finance and Personnel


General News

DfES:  A nationwide network of new training centres for Further Education (FE) teachers, tutors and trainers has been unveiled, aiming to provide training, professional development and self improvement programmes for all colleges and training providers.


The new Centres for Excellence in Teacher Training (CETTs) will cover a wide range of learning and skills contexts. They will ensure that all staff and mentors engaged in ITT and CPD are well qualified, and provide expertise in the training of teachers for particular occupations and/or in response to particular community and learning needs.


A selection process to identify the new CETTs, involving a consortium of key partners begins this September, with the new centres to be announced in April 2007. The CETT national network for colleges and providers in work based training and adult and community learning is expected to be in place by September 2007.


From September 2007, all new entry trainee FE teachers will be required to attain fully 'qualified teacher learning & skills' status (QTLS).  All existing FE teachers will be required to attain QTLS by 2010.

Press release ~ Equipping Our Teachers for the Future ~ FE White Paper: Raising Skills, Improving Life Chances ~ Success for all ~ Ofsted


DH:  The Department of Health has held a cross-Government exercise to test preparations for a pandemic influenza outbreak.


Exercise Shared Goal was designed to test the UK's ability to manage pandemic flu and the decision making processes that would be faced during a national health emergency.


Professor Lindsey Davies, National Director of Pandemic Influenza Preparedness said:

"There is currently no risk to the public from pandemic flu.


However, it is sensible that we prepare ourselves in case we do see an outbreak of pandemic flu at some time in the future.”

Press release ~ DH Pandemic flu website ~DH website - What are the risks? ~ WHO Influenza website ~ FCO travel advice ~ Chief Medical Officer's update on bird flu ~ Confirmed humans cases of avian influenza A (H5N1) [WHO] ~ Disease outbreak news – Health Protection Agency


MoD:  The Government has responded to the Deepcut Review, which proposed 34 recommendations, including the need for specific policies for the training of under-18s and the handling of complaints and inquests.


Minister for the Armed Forces Adam Ingram announced that there were very few recommendations that could not meet either wholly or in substantial part.”


The Government’s response includes the proposal to introduce a Service Complaints Commissioner who will be able to accept complaints directly from a Service person or a family member and have direct access to Ministers.

Press release ~ Government's Response to the Deepcut Review ~ Government Oral response, facts on Deepcut and Army training ~ Deepcut Review ~ Army Training and Recruiting Agency

Policy Statements and Initiatives

DfES:  A new drive to reduce the suicide rates in young men has been launched by Health Minister Rosie Winterton.


Suicide is the most common cause of death in young men, and although the last five years have seen a sustained downward trend in the figures, last year over 1,300 young men took their own lives.


Speaking at the 'Mind Your Head' conference organised by the Men's Health Forum, Rosie Winterton said:

"There is no health without mental health.


Men are almost three times as likely to take their own life as women."

 Press release ~ Reaching Out report ~ National Institute for Mental Health in England (NIMHE) ~ National Suicide Prevention Strategy for England 2005 Annual Report ~ Coroner-based Investigation of Specific Methods of Suicide  ~ Preventing Suicide Toolkit ~

Mind - facts and figures


Defra:  The Environment Secretary David Miliband has announced a range of new government sustainability targets, including a pledge that the Government office estate will go carbon neutral by 2012.


As part of its commitment to giving a lead on environmentally sustainable behaviour to business and consumers, the Government has set a target to reduce carbon emissions from the office based estate by 30% by 2020.


Mr Miliband was responding to a report published by the independent Sustainable Procurement Task Force, saying the Government would "put the UK on a more sustainable path", by improving the way it buys goods and runs its offices.

Press release ~ 'Procuring the Future' - The Sustainable Procurement Task Force National Action Plan ~ Complete list of new operational targets ~ Defra - Sustainable Consumption and Production ~ UK Government Sustainable Development website ~ The Travel Foundation ~ Climate change: Carbon offsetting ~ Kyoto Protocol Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) Watch ~ UN CDM website


Cabinet Office:  A new taskforce to focus on social exclusion has been set up by the newly appointed Social Exclusion Minister Hilary Armstrong.  The taskforce claims it will put the issue of social exclusion at the heart of government.


The task force is part of the Government's drive to tackle deep-seated disadvantage, concentrating on identifying the most at-risk and focus on specific hard-to-reach groups including children in care, people with mental health problems and teenagers at risk of pregnancy.

Press release ~ Social Exclusion Unit ~ National Social Inclusion Programme ~ New Policy Institute The ESRC Research Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE)



DfES:  Higher Education Minister, Bill Rammell has published proposals for a new system to replace the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) after 2008 with a view to cutting down on bureaucracy and increasing efficiency.


A working group comprising representatives of the three UK higher education funding councils, the DfES, HM Treasury, the Department of Employment and Learning Northern Ireland and the DTI has put forward proposals to the existing system, which it feels would encourage, identify and reward research excellence in higher education.


Consultation closes on Friday 13 October 2006.

Press release ~ Consultation Document ~ The 10-Year Science and Innovation Investment Framework: Next Steps ~ RAE 2008 ~  HEFCE 2002-03 review for RAE 2008 ~ Department for Education and Skills ~ AUT policy of opposition to RAE


DTI:  A consultation from the DTI (closing 22nd September 2006) plans to ensure that workers get to take paid leave for bank holidays in addition to the statutory four weeks annual leave.


The Government proposes to phase in the additional leave starting with an increase from 20 to 24 days (pro rata for part time workers) from 1st October 2007. In addition views are being sought on whether the rest of the leave should be introduced:

·         in one stage, from October 2008;

·         in one stage, from October 2009; or,

·         in two phases, increasing to 26 days in October 2008 and 28 days from October 2009.


Employment Relations Minister, Jim Fitzpatrick commented:

“I hope that businesses, unions and individuals will take part in this consultation and give us their views so that we can work together to introduce this new right without placing unnecessary burdens on business."

Press release ~Consultation Document ~ Success at Work ~ DTI Time Work Regulations

Guidance Notes and Best Practice Guides

DCLG:  Lords Planning Minister, Baroness Kay Andrews, has called on local authorities and developers to make sure that all new developments are of high quality design.


The challenge came as new guidance was published on planning reforms that mean the majority of planning applications will now have to be accompanied by design and access statements.  In addition, a good practice guide on how the statements will work has been released by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE).


The guidance gives practical advice for developers and local authorities on what will need to be included and how the statements should be interpreted, in order to achieve a shared understanding between developers, investors and occupiers about what is expected for a development.

Press release ~ Guidance on Changes to the Development Control System ~ Design Coding in Practice: An Evaluation ~ Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) ~

Department of Communities and Local Government

New guidance has been published providing specialist advice for grant-making charities and clarifies SORP uncertainties.


SORP Made Simpler is the first specific guidance for grant-making charities on their reporting under the Statement of Recommended Practice 2005 (SORP) for charity accounts (which is mandatory for charity accounts beginning on or after 1 April 2005).


Charities conducting their activities solely through the provision of grants have found aspects of the SORP difficult to put into practice and are often uncertain about how SORP should be applied.

Press release ~ Online store to purchase SORP Made Simpler (Directory of Social Change) ~ The Charities SORP 2005 ~  Charity Commission 2005 SORP website  ~ Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF)

Annual Reports

ARA:  The Assets Recovery Agency has published its 2005-06 Annual Report showing £85.7 million of criminal assets have been restrained.


The agency assists law enforcement by seeking civil recovery of the proceeds of unlawful activity by an action in the High Court and issuing tax assessments where there are reasonable grounds to suspect that there is taxable income, gain or profit from criminal conduct.


The Agency also has a statutory duty to provide financial investigative training to organisations that can use POCA powers.

Press release ~ ARA Annual Report 2005-06 (VLF 4.73Mb) ~ Annual Report Summary (LF 1.15Mb) ~ ARA Business Plan 2006-07 (LF 1.81Mb) ~ Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 ~ Assets Recovery Agency

General Reports and other publications

DH:  A new report has been published by the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement, outlining how patient care can be improved at the same time as more than £700m a year being saved.


Launching the report, Delivering Quality and Value: Focus on Productivity and Efficiency’, Health Minister Andy Burnham claims that savings could be made by addressing areas such as:

·         reducing avoidable emergency hospital admissions;

·         increasing the number of operations carried out as day cases;

·         cutting patients' length of stay in hospital;

·         slashing agency staff costs; and

·         reducing the number of wasted bed days.

 Press release ~ Report: Quality and Value: Focus on Productivity and Efficiency ~ NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement ~ The NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement Strategic Plan Overview 2006/07

Legislation / Legal

DCLG:  As from 1 June 2007, homeowners will be required to provide a Home Information Pack when marketing their homes for sale throughout England and Wales.


The Pack will include a Home Condition Report (including an energy efficiency rating, commented on in the below article), terms of sale and any search details.


The Pack is part of a three-way strategy aimed at encouraging greater competition and transparency in home buying and selling, which also includes:

·         Making conveyancing and local searches cheaper and faster.

·         Provide simplified redress for consumer complaints against estate agents and other market providers.


A dry run of the HIPs is due to be carried out in the autumn.

Press release ~ Home Information Packs ~ DCLG Home Information Packs website ~ Home Information Pack Draft Regulations ~ Home Inspectors


DCLG:  The Government has announced the use of compulsory energy ratings for homes for every home bought and sold in England and Wales.


The new Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) will be part of the Home Information Packs to be introduced as from 1 June 2007, which will be prepared by qualified home inspectors.


The certificates will give home buyers and sellers ratings for their home's energy efficiency and carbon emissions and state the current average costs for heating, hot water and lighting in their home as well as how to cut costs with energy efficiency measures.


European agreements require that from 2009 all homes for sale should have energy certificates.

Press release ~ Energy Performance Certificate - Sample ~ Home Information Packs ~ EU Directive on the Energy Performance of Buildings ~ EU Energy Demand Management ~

EU Building Performance Directive Implementation Advisory Group (DIAG) ~ Insight to Directive by NHER ~ Home Inspectors ~ World Wildlife Fund

EU legislation, initiatives, etc.

Defra: The European Union has launched Epizone, the largest international network of scientific excellence focused on animal diseases.  Its aim is to improve international cooperation, including the fight against high-impact diseases such as bird flu and foot-and-mouth disease.


The network brings together over 300 scientists from Turkey, China and ten European countries, including the UK’s Veterinary Laboratories Agency and Institute for Animal Health in a "virtual institute".

Press Release ~ Epizone EC webpage ~ Veterinary Laboratories Agency ~

Institute for Animal Health ~ World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) ~ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) ~ CIDC-Lelystad (Dutch contribution to Epizone)

Charity and Voluntary Sector

Charity and Voluntary Sector

CC:  The Charity Commission has registered the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (acevo) as a charity with the objective of working to promote the third sector for the benefit of the public.


Acevo is a professional body representing charity and not-for-profit chief executives in the UK, providing advice and training to improve efficiency and effectiveness.

Press release ~ Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (acevo) ~ Charity Commission ~ National Council for Voluntary Organisations ~ National Association of Councils for Voluntary Service (NACVS)


A new campaign, ‘Challenging Poverty’, has been launched to tackle poverty in Britain.


An initiative of the Church Urban Fund (CUF), the campaign hopes to raise awareness of the plight of the 11.4 million people living below the poverty line in this country and encourage action in local communities.


The initiative represents a milestone in CUF’s history, moving for the first time from supporting projects ‘behind the scenes’ to a high profile public awareness campaign.


An Ipsos MORI report commissioned by the CUF revealed wide acknowledgment of poverty in Britain (87%), and yet broad recognition that people who are poor tend to go unnoticed (63%).

Press release ~ Challenging Poverty campaign ~ Church Urban Fund (CUF) ~ Ipsos MORI report: Public Attitudes to Poverty summary ~ Oxfam UK Poverty Programme ~ Child Poverty Action Group ~ New Policy Institute (monitors poverty and social exclusion)

Business and other briefings

DTI:  Figures from the DTI's Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) claims to show it has added £69m of value to the firms who have come to it for help over the past year.


MAS’s mission is to give independent practical advice from manufacturing experts on how to improve manufacturing competitiveness.


The service is subsidised, and for smaller firms much of the help is free.

Press release ~ MAS annual report ~ Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) ~ Business Link ~ Small Business Advice Service ~ Business Extra

Industry News

Forthcoming Event

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