CQC: Detained but not all cared for to an appropriate standard - The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has set out its main concerns about the care provided to people detained under the Mental Health Act. It is releasing the final biennial report from its predecessor regulator, the Mental Health Act Commission (MHAC), covering the two-year period to 1 April 2009.
The report shows that during its visits to services & meetings with patients, MHAC found examples of people receiving effective treatment in appropriate & safe environments. But it also indicates that there is variation across services.
Publishing a 13 page response alongside the MHAC report, CQC says it is most concerned about:
* safe practice
* the quality of inpatient care & people’s experience of services
* how people’s human rights are protected
Cabinet Office: Bring back Grammar Schools? - Unleashing Aspiration - The Final Report of the Panel on Fair Access to the Professions concludes that without action to address Britain’s ‘closed shop’ mentality, tomorrow’s generation of talented young people will miss out on a new wave of social mobility.
Up to 7m more professionals are likely to be needed in Britain by 2020 as the global economy expands. A new focus is therefore needed, the report says, to unleash aspiration in all children and make social mobility the number one social policy priority for this & future governments.
Over 80 recommendations are in the final report including:
* All young children need dedicated careers support from primary school. ‘Connexions’ is not the right service for this and should be replaced.
* Parents should have the right of redress for schools consistently failing their children and have the right to move children to better schools.
* At the same time the professions should review their recruitment & internship practices and report to Government by 2010 on improvements.
* Universities should offer modular degrees & flexible learning. Student finance should be available for part-time students, as they are for full-time students.
* People needing training should have their own Government funded budget which individuals control through a new ‘Lifelong Skill Account’ worth up to £5,000.
NAO/PCS: Not all staff treated equally! - The Comptroller &Auditor General has qualified the accounts of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) because the EHRC re-engaged, without Treasury authority, 7 former senior employees of the former Commission for Racial Equality who had left that body under a voluntary early severance scheme.
The EHRC faced difficulties from the beginning as, at 1 October 2007, it had a shortfall of 140 staff out of an agreed complement of 525, with particular problems at senior staff level - with only 10 of the agreed complement of 25 directors in place. The severity of the shortfall arose partly because some 180 staff left the legacy commissions under voluntary early severance programmes.
The EHRC had little influence over which legacy Commission staff left under these schemes, and to try & resolve some of its key staffing difficulties it re-engaged without a break in service 7 staff members who had left under the voluntary exit schemes. The Treasury had not authorised in advance the payments to re-engage these staff, and refused to do so retrospectively because it did not consider that the payments represented value for money.
The PCS union have expressed concern over the use of consultants following the publication of the report which highlighted the use of consultants at a cost of £323,708 and comes at the same time as the commission is reorganising its helplines - resulting in the loss of 50 posts and the closure of the Manchester based helpline.
HMRC: Refunds only come in the post - Criminal gangs are targeting taxpayers with thousands of scam emails offering bogus tax refunds. The online attacks, known as ‘phishing’, have peaked during July leading to increased reports of fraud to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). In the last 12 months HMRC has received over 15,000 reports of fraudulent repayment emails.
The scams tell the recipient they are due a tax refund and ask for bank or credit card details so that the fictitious tax refund can be paid out. HMRC is warning customers about the possible dangers of falling for this scam during this phase of increased attacks on UK residents. All customers who provide their details to the fraudsters run a real risk of their accounts being emptied and credit cards used to their limit.
Lesley Strathie, HMRC Chief Executive said: “We only ever contact customers who are due a refund in writing by post. We never use emails, telephone calls or external companies in these circumstances.
Do not visit the website contained within the email or disclose any personal or payment information. Forward suspicious email to HMRC at email@example.com and then delete it from your computer / mail account".
NE: Doing what comes naturally - In the face of projections suggesting that 90% adults could be overweight or obese by 2050, Natural England has launched its ‘Natural Health Service’ which calls for a step-change in the way that people are given access to green spaces and the ways in which outdoor activity programmes are supported by GPs.
Dr Helen Phillips, Natural England’s Chief Executive, announced the findings of the latest research from the Universities of Bristol and East Anglia which shows that - even after taking account of socioeconomic variations - people living more than 1.25 miles away from a park were less likely to be physically active and 27% more likely to be overweight or obese. The findings reinforce earlier research conducted by Glasgow and St Andrew’s Universities, which found that people who live near to green spaces live longer.
Accompanying the Manifesto launch, the Department of Health joined NE in announcing an expansion of NE’s Walking the Way to Health programme. Health Walks already form an important part of Natural England’s health & access activities, with over 2,000 walks taking place every week and more than 37,000 volunteer walk leaders trained so far.
Industry News: Swine Flu is not the only ‘risk’ the NHS National Services Scotland faces - NHS National Services Scotland is responsible for delivering the best value for public money and when new information security products were sourced (for the 22 Scottish Health Boards) and it selected Lumension® to enforce security policies governing the storage of data on portable storage devices such as laptops, USB sticks & CDs or DVDs.
The final Data Handling Procedures in UK Government report highlighted the need to restrict access to public sector data and to encrypt data held on removable storage devices. Following its publication (and its own investigation into a high profile ‘data loss’), the Scottish Government made £1m available to the Scottish Health Boards to enable them to comply with new data handling standards.
Mark Salveta, NHS National Services Scotland, said; “We needed a solution that would prevent anyone from storing patient data or any other health board information, onto a CD, DVD, USB stick or laptop, without having express permission to do so. Where this method of data transfer was sanctioned, we needed to know that the information was encrypted”.
After reviewing products from ten vendors using a technical rating, cost & the quality of vendor’s service, Lumension Device Control scored the highest and has already been rolled out at NHS Lothian and NHS Grampian, following a product evaluation period and a well planned staff education programme.
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