HCIt’s not rocket science - The Healthcare Commission has urged boards of all NHS trusts in England to heed the lessons from serious failings in healthcare services, highlighting the importance of good leadership, effective management and systematic use of information.

The Learning from investigations report reviewed all investigations undertaken by the Commission from August 2004 to April 2007 and highlighted common trends including:
* poor leadership
* ineffective management
* inadequate teamwork with staff feeling unable to communicate problems and
* a lack of clarity about who was responsible for what across the trust

A common trend in failing trusts has been NHS boards concentrating on some of their activities, such as the delivery of targets or mergers, at the expense of others.  The Commission said all organisations face change and have to deliver on objectives.  The message from the findings of investigations is that trust boards need to do this and deliver on the basics of quality of care & safety.

The Commission was surprised that many boards involved in investigations did not have systems in place to ensure they were routinely informed of key information, such as rates of infection and measures of quality of care.  This meant that boards were unable to spot problems and take steps to fix them.
Press release ~ Learning from investigations report ~ Healthcare Commission - investigations ~ Protection of Vulnerable Adults protocols ~ DH cleaner hospitals website ~ Clean Hospitals website ~ Essence of care: benchmarks for the care environment ~ Essence of Care programme ~ Red Tray scheme ~ National Patient Safety Agency ~ Investigation into outbreaks of Clostridium difficile at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust ~ National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) ~ Institute of Healthcare Improvement (IHI) ~ Patient safety solutions pilot ~ Safety first: a report for patients, clinicians and healthcare managers, DH, December 2006 ~ A charter for the safety of patients ~ DH – Patient Safety ~ NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement - Building Capability

CLGBut will it make the other 90%+ of the population feel less hard done by? - Communities Secretary Hazel Blears has called for fresh efforts to promote cohesion & tackle community tensions and set out a range of new policies & actions for national and central government.  This is in response to the 10-month review by the Commission on Integration and Cohesion which looked at the major challenges Britain faces in responding to increasing change in local communities.

New guidance calls for a fundamental rebalancing in the way that funding is allocated to different community groups in order to get a much greater focus on integration and the publication of introduction packs that will be used to support people coming from abroad to integrate into British life and help avoid community tensions.

The response to the Commission's report also set outs other actions that the government will take, including:
* Specialist cohesion teams will be established by central government to provide advice & support to LAs facing cohesion challenges - particularly those areas facing rapid change or experiencing migration for the first time
* Local authority twinning between areas of the country experiencing similar issues in order to share ideas & solutions, so as to inspire innovation to respond to these challenges
* Consultation on cohesion guidance for funders - encouraging LAs to consider how funding can better be used to support greater interaction
* All LAs will have access to cohesion impact tests - a tool to assess whether the activities they are planning will have a positive impact on Cohesion in their neighbourhoods
Press release ~ Government's Response to the Commission on Integration and Cohesion ~ Cohesion Guidance for Funders: Consultation ~ Community cohesion impact assessment and community conflict prevention tool  ~ Communicating important information to new local residents ~ Predictors of community cohesion: multi-level modelling of the 2005 Citizenship SurveyPredictors of community cohesion: multi-level modelling of the 2005 Citizenship Survey - Summary ~ Commission on Integration and Cohesion

TS BoardInformation is the first key step in tackling dangerous situations - Disaster mitigation & response, traffic management, road maintenance and pollution monitoring are some of the diverse areas set to benefit from £10m investment in research & development by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB).

Environments that are large-scale, high-density, harsh or unstable make data gathering particularly challenging, but without up-to-date & reliable data, it is difficult to understand or predict the dynamics of the environment.

The TSB’s investment is designed to encourage British companies to research & develop innovative data-gathering technologies that could be rapidly configured & deployed by users such as the police, fire & rescue services, local authorities, utility companies and many others.

Many UK companies have particular strengths in sensing, instrumentation & imaging technologies and in telecommunications and intelligent systems.  Bringing this expertise together would give the UK the capability to offer complete tracking & monitoring solutions and to exploit the worldwide demand for such technology.

Gathering Data in Complex Environment funding competition - Applicants must register their intention to apply for funding and submit an outline of their proposal, by 4 April 2008Final closing date for applications is 8 May 2008.
Press release ~ The Technology Strategy Board ~ Gathering Data in Complex Environment funding competition ~ Lambert Review ~ Glacial Environment Monitoring using Sensor Networks ~ Oceanographic Sensors for AUVs ~ FireGrid – An Integrated Emergency Response System ~ Sensing the extreme

CPA:  A record of good fiscal management? - Speaking as the Committee of Public Accounts published its eighth report of Session 2007–08: Tax Credits and PAYE, Edward Leigh MP, Chairman of the Committee, said: "The amount of tax credit being lost to fraud and error is still running at some £1bn each year. The Department has accepted our Committee's recommendations on the need to set targets to reduce fraud and error.  It has still not put any targets in place………

About two million families a year have been placed in debt to the government in this way since the scheme was launched.  Some regret ever having become involved……

It was always a very bad idea for the Government to have to commission new work from the contractor EDS in order to recover compensation for the poorly performing tax credits computer system.  In the event, EDS has stumped up very little of the £26.5 million of the settlement to be paid under this arrangement”.

Other highlights in the report include:
* The Department overpaid £6bn in the first three years of the scheme
* This is the Committee's fifth report on the current tax credits system
* Admin. costs have risen by 45% (03-04 to 06-07), but little evidence the HMRC has the scheme under control
* The Ombudsman continues to receive & to uphold a large number of complaints
* Tax credits continue to suffer from the highest rates of error and fraud in central government
* Estimated claimant error & fraud led to incorrect payments of between £1.04bn and £1.30bn in 2004-05
* HMRC Trust Statement has been qualified for the fifth year running
Press release ~ Tax Credits and PAYE - Eighth Report of Session 2007–08 ~ Tax Credits: Getting it wrong? ~ Code of Practice 26 (COP 26) ~ Tax Credits: Putting Things RightHM Revenue & Customs: Tax Credits ~ CAB – Overpayment of Tax credits ~ Working Families Tax Credit Estimator ~ NAO press release ~ HMRC response press release ~ HMRC Standard Report 2006-07

DHIt still won’t stop applications from EU countries - The Home Office has laid immigration rules implementing the first part of the new Points Based System, which is the Tier 1 (General) route for highly skilled migrants.  The rules impose a condition that will hopefully restrict international medical graduates' (IMGs) access to UK post-graduate medical training, prohibiting them from taking a post as a doctor in training as from 29 February 2008.

Around 10,000 potential IMG applicants will be exempt from the Home Office regulations so, without further action on top of the new immigration rules, the DH estimates around 700 to 1,100 UK doctors will still be displaced & unable to secure a training place in 2009, 2010 & beyond.

Therefore, the DH is beginning a consultation (closes at 10.00am on 6 May 2008) setting out proposals for managing applications to the foundation & specialty training programmes from Highly Skilled Migrant doctors with leave to remain in the UK.
Press release ~ DH consultation paper on International Medical Graduates ~ Border & Immigration Agency - A points based system ~ MMC Inquiry Final Report ~ BMA - Medical Training Application Service

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