IPCC: Hardly likely to inspire confidence in National Identity Cards - The Independent Police Complaints Commission has found that the processes for data handling were woefully inadequate at the HMRC Child Benefit Office in Washington, but individual members of staff were not to blame for losing the missing Child Benefit data CDs.
The IPCC's investigation uncovered failures in institutional practices & procedures concerning the handling of data. It revealed the absence of a coherent strategy for mass data handling and, generally speaking, practices & procedures were less than effective’. Staff found themselves working on a day-to-day basis without adequate support, training or guidance about how to handle sensitive personal data appropriately.
The IPCC found that there was:
* a complete lack of any meaningful systems
* a lack of understanding of the importance of data handling and
*a ‘muddle through' ethos
In addition, Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell has published a review of information security in government, putting in place a new framework for the future to improve the rules, culture, accountability and scrutiny of data handling. The changes announced in the report fall into four groups:
* Core measures: A series of mandatory minimum measures is being put in place across government including encryption and compulsory testing by independent experts of the resilience of systems
* Cultural change: All civil servants dealing with personal data are to undergo mandatory annual training. The Government will also introduce Privacy Impact Assessments, recommended by the Information Commissioner
* Stronger accountability: Data security roles within departments are being standardised & enhanced to ensure clear lines of responsibility
* Increased scrutiny: Departments will report on their performance, the NAO will look at what they say, and the Information Commissioner is already planning his first spot checks
CRC: Rural need is not the same as urban need - The Commission for Rural Communities (CRC) has made public its response to the Government's review of the National Health Service.
CRC's recommendations for changes that would have a significant impact include:
* resource allocation formula to give greater recognition to the cost of delivering rural healthcare services and the ageing rural population
* accessible local services - with an emphasis on co-location of a range of services not just healthcare
* improved commissioning for rural areas & greater emphasis on joint commissioning of health & social care
* an increase in the number & range of outreach & mobile services to address access issues
* better emergency response measures for life-threatening conditions and
* improved preventative medicine, targeted at the hidden deprivation & disadvantage in rural areas
HO: What happens if the visitor just ‘runs away’? - In future people will have to become licensed to sponsor family members to visit from abroad under proposed changes to the visa system. Sponsors will have a duty to ensure that their visitors leave before their visa runs out. If sponsors fail in their duties, they face: a ban on bringing anyone else over, penalties of up to £5,000, or a jail sentence.
Further proposals announced include:
* introducing two new business visas for sportspeople and entertainers
* setting the maximum leave for visitors at six months
* introducing an appeal system for those coming in under the family route
* a new short-term, low-cost group travel visa to promote British tourism and
* a visa for people coming to the UK for one-off cultural events such as the Edinburgh Festival
Defra: Still too little and too late? - Sir Michael Pitt called for urgent & fundamental changes in the way the country is adapting to the increased risk of flooding and called on the Government to set out publicly how it will make rapid progress (and be held to account) on improving the country’s flood resilience. Précised comments from his press release include:
* It is unacceptable that one year on thousands of people remain in temporary accommodation
* Research published as part of my report shows that the risk of flooding continues to escalate
* The current lack of clarity & transparency has the potential to put not only people’s homes, but lives in jeopardy
* Our current attitude to reservoir safety is also concerning. Insistence on secrecy ……. puts lives unnecessarily at risk
* Government must act to ensure critical infrastructure is as resilient as possible, whilst essential services providers should become considerably more active in local & national emergency preparedness & response
In response to the report Secretary of State for the Environment, Hilary Benn, has promised:
* a prioritised action plan in the autumn
* development of a Long Term Investment Strategy for flood defence with the Environment Agency
* A planned nationwide programme to improve the resilience of critical infrastructure later on in 2008
* Local emergency planners will be provided with flood maps for reservoirs before the end of 2009
* The Government will produce an outline for the National Flood Emergency Framework by the end of July, with a draft for consultation by the end of the year.
Cabinet Office: But is vision of unions is more concerned with proposed ‘pay cuts’? - The Prime Minister has outlined his vision for transforming England's public services in a Cabinet Office report - ‘Reaching World Class: The next stage in improving public services’. He claims that the paper provides a framework for further improvement and that, using evidence from the best-performing public services around the world it sets out the Government's overall approach to public service reform for the coming years.
The report identifies three key characteristics of world-class public services:
* empowering citizens who use public services
* fostering a new professionalism in the public service workforce
* strong strategic leadership from central government
Forthcoming event: Brain Tumour UK’s annual conference will be held at Edgbaston Cricket Ground, Birmingham on 14 and 15 July 2008 jointly hosted with Professor Garth Cruickshank and his specialist team at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. In light of the new venue they are aiming for ‘a better innings for patients’ bringing together anyone concerned with enhancing the lives of people living with brain tumours, improving treatments and care, and finding a cure.
Who should attend?: Patients and their families, friends and carers; Members of brain tumour and related health charities/patient support groups; Scientific, medical and health professionals; Fundraisers, volunteers and other supporters; and Policy makers.
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