DHEveryone is entitled to a full life - 'Valuing People Now - A Three Year Strategy for People with Learning Disabilities' presents a new government vision for improving services for people with learning disabilities across health, housing, employment and community care services.  It follows a comprehensive consultation involving more than 10,000 people.

Progress will be reviewed annually.  A new National Learning Disability Programme Board and Regional Boards will help ensure the strategy works, share good practice and provide a forum for stakeholder groups to discuss progress & concerns.

Valuing People Now also contains the Government's response to the Independent Inquiry chaired by Sir Jonathan Michael.  This was set up by former Secretary of State Patricia Hewitt in response to the Mencap report 'Death by Indifference' in 2007.
Press release ~ Valuing People Now - A Three Year Strategy for People with Learning Disabilities ~ Healthcare for All ~ Mencap report 'Death by Indifference' in 2007 ~ 'A Life Like Any Other? Human Rights of Adults with Learning Disabilities' ~ Healthcare Commission – Reducing long-term care residences ~ Valuing People ~ Our Health Our Care Our Say ~ Mansell Report

CIOBJust another rushed Government Gimick? - The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) has highlighted a distinct lack of construction industry representation on the new Panel on Fair Access to Professions, announced as part of the Government’s New Opportunities White Paper.  The role of the Panel is also to ensure that everyone has a chance of a career with the main professions, regardless of background.

Currently the Panel is made up of 18 members, from which it considers to be the ‘main professions’.  However, other than architecture (represented by the RIBA), there is no mention of any construction or engineering disciplines, an industry that accounts for approximately 9% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The CIOB is also critical of the apparent lack of acknowledgement for the role of professional bodies in delivering professional people and providing opportunities for life-long professional development.
Press release ~ Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) ~ CIOB letter to Panel for Fair Access to Professions ~ Panel on Fair Access to Professions ~ Royal Institute British Architecture (RIBA)

HMRCA bit of help with the cost of parenthood - Mums-to-be, with babies due on or after 6 April 2009, are being urged to apply now for the new £190 Health in Pregnancy Grant.  The one-off payment is intended to help pregnant mums stay fit & healthy in the run up to the birth, and help meet some of the costs as the big day approaches.

The money can be claimed from the 25th week of pregnancy, after receiving health advice from a midwife or other health professional.  You'll be given a claim form to sign & send off, which you must do within 31 days.

When your claim is approved, the money is paid directly into your bank or building society account.  Women who apply in the first 3 months of the year will get the cash in April. Payment of the grant does not depend on the amount of household income and will not affect payments of other benefits & tax credits and is payable for each pregnancy, not each baby.
Press release ~ Directgov – health pregnancy grant ~ Listen to the Health in Pregnancy Grant podcast (11Mb) ~ Antenatal care: routine care for the health pregnant woman ~ National Collaborating Centre for Women’s and Children’s Health ~ Pregnancy Care Planner ~ DH - Maternity ~ Pregnancy, childbirth and infant care

STFCLook underground for what goes on up above - Cosmic-rays detected half a mile underground in a disused U.S. iron-mine can be used to detect major weather events occurring 20 miles up in the Earth’s upper atmosphere, a new study has revealed. 

Published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters and led by scientists from the UK’s National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), this study shows how the number of high-energy cosmic-rays reaching a detector deep underground, closely matches temperature measurements in the upper atmosphere (known as the stratosphere).

For the first time, scientists have shown how this relationship can be used to identify weather events that occur very suddenly in the stratosphere during the Northern Hemisphere winter.  These events can have a significant effect on the severity of winters we experience and also on the amount of ozone over the poles - being able to identify them and understand their frequency is crucial for informing our current climate and weather-forecasting models to improve predictions.
Press release ~ UK’s National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) ~ Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) ~ MINOS ~ U.S. Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory ~ Video of Sudden Stratospheric Warming occuring in the Southern Hemisphere ~ Images of the MINOS experiment: One ~ Two ~ Three ~ Four ~ Soudan Underground Lab ~ Image of the Soudan Mine ~ Geophysical Research Letters (need to register to download - pweiss@agu.org)

NSGA democratic service with a worlwide reputation - Governors & senior officials from the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq (KRG) last week joined National School of Government (NSG) representatives and Whitehall officials at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to mark a new phase in a skills development project for the region.

The project – funded by the KRG and delivered by the NSG – will be designed to raise the skills of Kurdish officials working in ministries and at local level in governorates, with the aim of eventually establishing a civil service college in the Kurdistan Region that could be used to train civil servants from all parts of Iraq. 

The NSG’s International Consultancy has worked with more than 80 countries from around the world to build public service organisations and provide their staff with the skills needed to make organisational improvements.
Press release ~ Kurdistan Regional Government ~ National School of Government’s International Consultancy

MoD:   Give them the respect & acknowledgement they deserve - Plans for the first ever national Armed Forces Day to honour our Service personnel - past, present and future – have been launched in Chatham by Veterans Minister, Kevan Jones.  The Historic Dockyard Chatham has been selected to host the first national Armed Forces Day event on 27 June 2009, which will be complemented by hundreds of events in towns and cities across the UK.

From this year on, Armed Forces Day will be held annually on 27 June, providing the nation with a dedicated day where people can come together to show their appreciation and support of the Armed Forces.
Press release ~ Armed Forces Day ~ Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust

FSA: Restoring the reputation of the City - Lord Turner, chairman of the Financial Services Authority (FSA), recently addressed the root causes of the current global financial crisis and set out the implications for regulation and the future shape of the financial system in a lecture in the City.  He also outlined the issues that he would deal with in his review of the regulation & supervision of the banking system, to be published in March.
Press release ~ Lord Turner’s lecture

Industry NewsSpeedy Visual Communication is the key  – Probably the main cause of delay & frustration is poor communication between those who have the information and those who need to receive it in order to take appropriate action, or alternatively, understand why they have to wait before a service is provided or information is offered.

The old saying ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ has been updated by developments in audio visual technology supplied by organisations such as Asysco, whose Government and Public Sector Division supply & integrate professional AV equipment to provide digital signage & video conferencing solutions.

Typical deployments of such systems include:
* Police - Improving internal communication with immediate & constant intelligence display, security alert status, witness appeals
* Education - Engaging with students, staff, parents & visitors more effectively
* Libraries / Museums - England's libraries alone hold over 7 million audio-visual items
Local Government - Provision of citizen centric services & reinforcing community cohesion with the ability to both rapidly change the information provided and the language it is provided in
Healthcare/Hospitals - Enhanced visitor experience with directions, information services and reduced frustration in waiting areas (updated queue times).  Reinforced messages - such as 'wash your hands', switch off mobile phones' etc.
Public Safety – Multi - organisation command centres for terror / disaster / crowd / crime management & control
* Transport – Next bus in ‘x’ minutes, flight arrival delayed and other travel information
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