Wired - GOV Plus welcomes back its readers from the Christmas / New Year break. This ‘bumper edition’ newsletter, in addition to covering the last week ‘in full’ as normal, also includes our editor’s pick of items published during the break period – especially consultations, the announcement of which you may have missed. Other items can be accessed by going to the ‘Home’ page and clicking on ‘Search for Press releases’ using ‘December 2012’ as ‘Date From’ (plus 'January 2013' as 'Date to') and selecting a specific department, or ‘Any’.
PC&PE: Does improving drug treatment, etc. require de-criminalisation? - The Home Affairs Committee has published its first report on drugs in a decade. After a wide-ranging & in-depth inquiry lasting a year and examining all areas of UK drug policy, the Committee has called for a Royal Commission on the issue.
Whilst it supported a number of steps the Government has taken in its 2010 drug strategy, it believes more needs to be done to comprehensively address the drugs problem in the UK. The report focuses on the need to ‘break the cycle’ of drug addiction, and highlights in particular the need for improved treatment in prisons & wider society, and for early intervention with better education & preventative work.
MoJ: Ensuring Insurance claims for car crashes are ‘real’ - New measures to bring down the number & cost of whiplash claims, including speculative & fraudulent applications have been announced. Action has been taken after figures showed there had been a 60% rise in personal injury claims related to road accidents since 2006, despite vehicles becoming safer and a 20% reduction in the number of reported accidents over the same period.
There were over 500,000 whiplash claims last year – and insurers estimate they add £90p.a. to the average motor insurance policy. The consultation (closes on 8 March 2013) proposes:
* Creating new independent medical panels to improve diagnosis of whiplash injuries
* Options to allow more whiplash cases to be challenged in the small claims court
NAO: Saving the NHS by making it affordable - The NHS made a substantial amount of efficiency savings in 2011-12, according to a report published by the National Audit Office. These savings will need to be sustained & built on in future years if the NHS is to generate up to £20bn of savings in the 4 years to 2014-15.
The NAO found that, understandably, the NHS has started by making the easiest savings first. Although the savings made by NHS providers as a percentage of operating costs are increasing, it is not clear what level of savings is sustainable over time.
DH: Let’s hope the government uses more able negotiators this time – Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt has unveiled the Government’s blueprint for changes to the GP contract. The proposals will change the way GPs are rewarded for the care they offer.
Instead of being rewarded extra for routine office functions like record keeping, GPs will be rewarded for steps which directly support & benefit patients. This includes better control of blood pressure & cholesterol, to prevent heart attacks & stroke and assessing patients at risk from dementia.
£ms will be switched into improving care for patients and making better use of taxpayers’ money. The proposed changes will see £164m pounds taken away from rewarding GPs for bureaucratic tick box exercises and re-directed into actions which will directly benefit patients. The BMA’s General Practitioners Committee & other primary care organisations now have 2 months (left) to respond to the Government’s proposals.
NHS Confed: Without proper recuperation the benefit of treatments will be negated - Adopting 6 key principles will help the delivery of effective integrated out-of-hospital care, says a new report by the NHS Confederation and Royal College of General Practitioners.
The report provides a set of principles to lay the foundations for delivering effective integrated out-of-hospital care, and offers local leaders a range of prompts, drivers & enablers to support them to effectively implement the approach.
NHS Confed: Co-ordination is the key to effective service provision - The NHS Confederation is calling on the children's & child health ministers to bring together decision-makers & leaders from children’s health services, education, social care, justice and wellbeing to agree a plan for joining up services in practice.
The demand for action comes as the NHS Confederation publishes a report on behalf of 7 leading health bodies. Children & young people’s health and wellbeing in changing times distils the learning from 4 events attended by 380 child health specialists into recommendations which will protect & improve children’s health services while the NHS undergoes significant reform.
The report’s main recommendation is that the Government must take transformative action to address the lack of policy coordination between different government departments and national bodies. This will smooth the path for joint working in local, regional and specialist services, now that child health services are commissioned by 8 different bodies in the new system.
EHRC: Is it the right time to have a Bill? - Mark Hammond, CEO of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, has commented in response to the Bill of Rights Commission's report published recently.
SC: First step for 2 future Judges - The Sentencing Council is inviting current LPC & BPTC students to take part in its second mooting competition. The competition aims to promote awareness of sentencing, the use of the sentencing guidelines, and the work of the Sentencing Council among law students. Two winners will get mini pupillages at 25 Bedford Row Chambers and 2 Bedford Row Chambers.
Anyone interested should email us with their name, course, university/law school and email address by 14 January 2013. They will then be sent a case study to submit a plea in mitigation for the written round.
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Please note that previously published newsletters can be accessed from the Newsletter Archive