PC&PE:  It is not up to RUK to clarify how Scotland will ‘manage’ - With just over 16 months to go before the Scottish referendum there are still significant gaps in the Scottish Government's proposed foreign policy, according to a report published by the Foreign Affairs Committee.  There is an urgent need for clarity & candour on the international challenges an independent Scotland would face

There has not been enough analysis on what sort of overseas diplomatic network and external security & intelligence provision Scotland would have to set up.  There needs to be a more realistic assessment of the extent to which Scotland could expect the rest of the UK (RUK) to co-operate with, and support it, on security & intelligence.

A number of policies seem to be underpinned by a belief that where problems emerge, goodwill for Scotland will trump difficulties.  But there is a pressing need for official legal advice on a wide range of international legal issues including EU accession, EU opt-outs and membership of international organisations.
Press release & links ~ Reuters: Scotland ‘new state’ outside EU, UN if splits ~ Scotland, independence & the EU - Commons Library Standard Note ~ CH: Scottish Independence - A Diminished Foreign Policy for the UK? ~ Would Holyrood pay for independence in euros? ~ CH: The Foreign Policy Implications of and for a Separate Scotland ~ Independent-Scotland-and-International-Law-R-Churchill ~ SCDI: Future Scotland – Europe & international ~ Professor James Crawford Provides Opinion on the International Law Aspects of the Referendum on the Independence of Scotland ~ Could an Independent Scotland Operate a Diplomatic Network? ~ Breaking up is hard to do: Many legal unknowns would follow Scottish independence ~ Implications of a 'Yes' Vote for Scotland ~ PC&PE:  Still many questions to be answered before voters can make an informed choice, rather than emotional choice (4th item)

PC&PE:  Let us not forget the Coalition blame Labour for ‘just spending with no real return’ - The Public Accounts Committee has published its 42nd Report of this Session which examined planning for economic infrastructure

The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the CPA, said: 
“Investment in infrastructure is crucial for stimulating economic growth.  However, the Treasury’s Infrastructure Plan is simply a long list of projects requiring huge amounts of money, not a real plan with a strategic vision and clear priorities.

The Treasury maintains that it has prioritized 40 projects and programmes, but in reality the list details more than 200 individual projects said to be ‘priorities’.  Most of the £310bn of investment needed will come from the private sector, with households shouldering the cost through higher energy bills and fares. ……

The Government needs to urgently assess the impact on consumers and how this can be contained. ….. Given the difficulty in raising private finance, the government may have to use taxpayers’ money to attract investors through direct grants, guaranteed incomes or agreeing to bear certain risks”.
Press release & links ~ Report: HM Treasury: Planning for economic infrastructure ~ CBI comments on Public Accounts Committee infrastructure report ~ Government 'dithering' over energy & climate policy could cost jobs & investment, says TUC ~ £59 million fund to accelerate Enterprise Zone growth ~ Government launches new guide to infrastructure delivery ~ NAO: Planning for Economic Infrastructure ~ CBI comments on NAO infrastructure report - urging more action to boost private investment ~ CBI: An Offer They Shouldn’t Refuse: Attracting Investment to UK Infrastructure ~ North needed to heal national finances ~ Infrastructure Bill gets Royal Assent ~ Welsh Infrastructure Projects could benefit from £40 billion Investment Pot ~ Government uses fiscal credibility to unveil new infrastructure investment and exports plan ~ ‘Shovel ready’ projects now urgent - First Minister ~ HMT:  Building our way to a more prosperous future (2nd item)

CBIThis ‘saga’ is longer than the ‘Lord of the Rings’ - The CBI has responded to the recent London Assembly report, Airport Capacity in London.  The report suggests existing capacity, including at Heathrow, Luton, Stansted & Gatwick airports, could be used more effectively.  And it calls on the independent Airports Commission to rule out the expansion of Heathrow, when it makes its interim report later this year and final report in 2015.
Press release & links ~ Airport Capacity in London ~ CBI: Trading Places ~ Independent Airports Commission ~ Night flights generate millions of pounds worth of economic growth - CBI ~ WWF - Major new aviation report argues ‘claims about the economic benefits of connectivity are not founded on solid evidence’ ~ Foundations laid for future growth of aviation as Government unveils long-term strategy ~ UK will be a ‘branch-line destination’ without a clear aviation strategy - CBI

NHS ConfedBig Bang approach often just leads to bigger problems - Targeted alliances, time-limited partnerships and collaborative working can produce better joint working outcomes than formal organisational mergers, according to a new NHS Confederation report. 

With the combination of current system pressures possibly heralding a wave of organisations joining forces, Healthcare groups: an alternative to merger-mania? says that historically, the health service has a
'poor track record' of mergers successfully delivering their stated objectives.

It asks if the NHS would gain from more providers establishing 'healthcare groups' - formally agreeing to work jointly on an area of shared interest - rather than risking the pitfalls that can accompany formal mergers, which can include reduced staff morale and falls in productivity. 
The paper includes a unique model of collaboration options which independent health consultancy Finnamore has produced from its own experience working with health providers.  The matrix sets out the 'trade off' required for various models of joint working, plotting the potential organisational upheaval against the likely benefits of collaboration.
Press release & links ~ Healthcare groups: an alternative to merger-mania? ~ Hospitals Forum and how it supports members ~ TKF: NHS merger decisions - what's the evidence? ~ NT: Mergers in the NHS - Made in heaven or marriages of convenience? ~ OFT publishes further details on its role in reviewing NHS mergers ~ BMJ: Process & impact of mergers of NHS trusts - multi-centre case study & management cost analysis ~ Editor’s ‘find’ illustrating complication of mergers ~ Monitor Briefing sheet: Mergers involving NHS trusts and NHS foundation trusts ~ Can governments do it better? Merger mania and hospital outcomes in the English NHS ~ NHS hospital mergers: what benefits? ~ All Pain and No Gain? A Study of Mergers of NHS Trusts in London ~ A Case Study of Employee Retention post-merger in the NHS

NOIf the NHS won't acknowledge its mistakes AND learn from them, then perhaps we must start to think the unthinkable  - A 2012-13 analysis of the main reasons why patients, their families & carers brought their complaint to the Health Service Ombudsman after their hospital has failed to deal with it include; poor explanations, no acknowledgement of mistakes, inadequate financial remedy and unnecessary delays.

The Ombudsman’s report (The NHS hospital complaints system.  A case for urgent treatment?), comes in the wake of the report by Robert Francis QC on the appalling failings at the Mid Staffordshire Foundation NHS Trust (published in February 2013).  The Francis report said: “It the Board did not listen sufficiently to its patients or its staff or ensure the correction of deficiencies brought to the Trust’s attention”.

Far from Mid Staffordshire being an isolated case, the Ombudsman’s report shows ‘systemic problems with NHS Hospitals’ failing to listen and learn from patients’.  It gives insight into the problem using the organisation’s unique perspective as the service people turn to when hospitals have failed to handle their complaint properly.  
Press release & links ~ NHS fails to communicate effectively with patients & families, warns Ombudsman ~ NHS is failing to deal appropriately with most basic complaints ~ Joint Ombudsmen investigation into section 117 aftercare complaint ~ More complaints than ever, but complaining should be easier, says PHSO ~ Delivering Dignity report highlights vital role of complaints in improving care for older people, says PHSO ~ CQC:  Another rotten apple in the NHS barrel? ~ PHSO: Mistakes will (unfortunately) happen, but it’s how you correct them that is important – 2008) (3rd item)

EU News:  More Grist to the UKIP Mill? - The European Commission has recently proposed measures to ensure the better application of EU law on people's right to work in another Member State and so make it easier for people to exercise their rights in practice.
Press release & links ~ Immigrants to EU countries less likely to live on benefits ~ BBC: Switzerland to limit immigration from all EU states ~ UK Border Agency: European Nationals ~ Migration Watch UK

UKASEconomic Benefits of Accreditation Valued at More Than £600m a Year - A new report ‘The Economics of Accreditation’ commissioned by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills has assessed the economic benefits derived from the certification, measurement and inspection services accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service.  Researchers from Birkbeck, University of London, surveyed a selection of businesses and other independent analysis to create the report, concluding that accreditation contributes more than £600 million to the UK economy each year.
UKAS accreditation is increasingly being used by Government departments and agencies to deliver policy in such diverse areas as environmental management, health and safety, food safety, climate change, forensic science and DNA testing. This report confirms that accreditation is providing a valuable service to business and government alike.

Click here to download a summary of the main findings and a copy of the full report from the UKAS web site.

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