P&HSO: Overstretched or cutting corners to save money? - In a new report, the Local Government Ombudsman and Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman find that the level of care provided by Buckinghamshire County Council and Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Mental Health Partnership Trust for a man with severe learning disabilities was unacceptable.
They said that the care needs of 'Frank' were never properly assessed and, in their joint report, they also identified a number of significant failings in the level of care he received and in complaint handling.
The report says Frank and his parents had a right to expect that the Care Home would provide him with appropriate care in an environment conducive to his development, but sadly that did not happen. They found that there had been fault by both the Council and the Health Trust which caused adverse effects for Frank & his family including acute anxiety and distress and some financial loss. The Ombudsmen recommended that the Council and the Health Trust pay £32,000 compensation.
This is the first time that the two Ombudsmen have collaborated on an investigation in this way. Although they have separate jurisdictions over different parts of the complaints, they felt collaboration was in the best interest of Frank and his parents as many aspects of the health & social care complaints are inextricably linked.
The Ombudsmen reported jointly using powers under the new Regulatory Reform (Collaboration etc. between Ombudsmen) Order 2007, which has enabled them to work together more effectively in investigating and reporting on complaints which cross their jurisdictions.
MoJ: But it was this government that made it illegal to protest - Justice Secretary Jack Straw has announced new proposals which he claimed will give Parliament more power to hold the Government to account and strengthen its relationship with the people.
Key reforms include:
* Managing protest around Parliament - Removing the legal requirement to give notice of demonstrations around Parliament and obtain the authorisation of the Metropolitan Police Commissioner
* Role of the Attorney General - Introducing a new requirement for the Attorney General to report to Parliament on an annual basis
* Judicial Appointments - Removing the Prime Minister from the process for appointing Supreme Court judges
* Treaties - Formalising in law Parliament's role in scrutinising treaties (excludes European Union treaties)
* Civil Service - Putting the Civil Service's core values of integrity, honesty, objectivity and impartiality into law
* War Powers - Process Parliament should follow to approve any commitment of Armed Forces into conflict
* Flying the Flag - Relaxing restrictions that currently allow the Union Flag to be flown on only 18 designated days on UK Government buildings
IfL: Did ‘Sir’ sign the register in time? - As the deadline arrives for all further education college teachers to register as members of the Institute for Learning (IfL), the professional body for teachers and trainers in the learning & skills sector has announced that over 100,000 teachers are now registered as members.
Existing FE teachers in England were required to register by 31 March 2008, and to abide by the IfL code of professional practice (to be launched in April 2008). They will also have to undertake at least 30 hours' continuing professional development (CPD) each year. By virtue of changes to Learning and Skills Council (LSC) provider contracts, these requirements will be extended to teachers and trainers throughout the wider sector, who will have to register by September 2008, or within six months of starting to teach.
DCSF: A vital change in policy but will it be funded sufficiently? - Kevin Brennan and Beverley Hughes joined the Local Government Association and Association of Directors of Children's Services to launch Care Matters: Time to Deliver, a practical guide for local partners on how to improve the lives of children in care.
Local Authorities and those working with children in care will be asked to focus on providing stability; listening more carefully to children in care, ensuring every child has a strong, stable relationship with their carers and having aspirations which are as high for these children as they are for their own.
The implementation plan sets out the steps Local Authorities need to take, including:
* Considering friends and family care first
* Placing children close to home so they can stay in touch with friends & family, where that is in their interest
* Ensuring that a child's education is not disrupted by unnecessary change of placement and school place
* Giving children in care the option to stay on in care or with their foster carers after the age of 16
* Giving children a personal adviser up until the age of 25, if required
The implementation plan comes as the Children and Young People Bill makes its way back into the House of Commons for its second reading. Over the next year, the DCSF will issue statutory guidance on measures in the Bill and on other proposals that do not need primary legislation such as:
* Virtual School Heads
* Child Trust Fund
* Designated Teachers
* and improving the health of looked after children
WAG: One way to prove whose ‘Master’ - Robert Curtis has developed a device to help owners medicate their pets after spending hours unsuccessfully trying to persuade his German Shepherd to take her tablets. The result – which he has now patented & trade marked - is TOOK IT! which he says is nigh on 100% successful and will be launched at the 36th International Exhibition of Inventions, New Techniques and Products of Geneva (2 – 6 April 2008).
TOOK IT! is a small receptacle filled with semi solid food – when the lid is lifted it leaves an indentation in the food where the tablet can be inserted and covered. The small slug of food containing the concealed medication can then be ejected on to the animal’s food bowl and swallowed whole.
Curtis is one of several inventors who will be exhibiting on the Wales Innovators Network (WIN) stand and hopes to licence the product for manufacture, marketing and distribution.
WIN is funded & delivered directly by the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) and is designed to support, help & encourage individual Welsh inventors and innovators to turn their ideas into commercial reality.
DCMS: The problem is parents don’t have the same IT skills of their children - Ed Balls and Andy Burnham have welcomed the Byron Review of the risks to children of potentially harmful or inappropriate material on the internet and in video games and pledged to act immediately on taking forward her proposals.
DCSF and DCMS will now work together with other key Departments including Home Office, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform to take forward Dr Byron's recommendations.
Forthcoming Event: Inside Brussels X & XI: Public Affairs in the New Europe
15th-16th April & 7th-8th October 2008
Since 1986 the ECPA has been the only organisation to concentrate its efforts on training for Public Affairs excellence. ‘Inside Brussels’ focuses this experience to help its participants understand and predict the ever-changing patterns of power in the European Union. There is no better way to understand how Europe works than to spend two days in the corridors of European power. ‘Inside Brussels’ is the only programme that takes you inside Parliament, the Commission and the Council to examine how these institutions work and how they interact. Participants will meet and debate with officials, MEPs and lobbyists. How does the puzzle fit together? How do you influence it? Take a journey through the public affairs process at the heart of Europe. The programme deliberately mixes both nationalities and functions. It is usually attended by a mix of corporate specialists, NGOs, trade association personnel, civil servants, consultants and diplomats. It is normally taught for sixteen participants in an intense, small group atmosphere. The programme is taught twice a year in April and October. The 2008 programmes will include consideration of how the ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon will affect the public affairs process. Click here for more information and to register.
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