Remember Staffordshire Hospital

Monitor is supporting the Sign up to Safety campaign which aims to reduce avoidable harm by 50% and save 6,000 lives over the next 3 years.  The campaign, launched by the Secretary of State for Health, is designed to strengthen patient safety in the NHS and make it the safest healthcare system in the world.  The campaign aims to deliver harm free care for every patient, every time, everywhere.  It champions openness & honesty and supports everyone to improve the safety of patients.

NHS foundation trusts are being asked to develop a plan that describes what they will do to reduce harm & save lives, by working to reduce the causes of harm and take a preventative approach.  By committing to Sign up to Safety you will:

  • publicly declare how your NHS foundation trust will improve safety in your hospitals
  • turn your proposed actions into a safety improvement plan
  • engage your staff & patients in the campaign and link to existing safety initiatives
  • encourage reporting of patient safety incidents
  • regularly report progress against your plan to improve safety in your hospitals, explaining action taken in response to safety alerts

In a second related news item; Sir Robert Francis launches new review into NHS reporting culture to make it easier for NHS staff to speak up.  New data published last week will allow the public the opportunity to compare key safety measures across hundreds of NHS Trusts in England.

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Register now for Early Bird Discount

October 21st - 22nd 2014 Manchester

Digital: Vision to Value

Socitm’s annual conference, the leading event for ICT professionals from local public services, returns with a keynote speech from Shadow Minister Chi Onwurah.

Drawing on contributions from leading politicians, industry experts and local practitioners, Socitm 2014 will help ICT professionals from across the public sector to take on the challenge of designing and articulating the value of a deeper digital presence.

Key issues to be discussed include:

  • Leadership: what is needed to affect public service transformation?
  • Digital customer service: how is the private sector responding to changing needs?
  • Mobile working: balancing business benefits and compliance requirements
  • Cloud computing: where next for the public sector?
  • The future of PSN: communications, connectivity and collaboration
  • Health and social care integration: making the vision a reality

Click here to register or visit the website for more details.

If the defence industry cake is smaller why would we give a slice to an independent Scotland?

The long standing stagnation of the UK defence budget has inevitably led to a reduction in jobs in the defence industry — as a result, UK capability will be affected as the sector risks losing highly skilled professionals deemed essential to the defence support base, argues a new RUSI study.

80% of the personnel leaving were lost to the sector as a whole, while 45% of those exiting were engineers, project managers & information specialists - all critical roles essential to a healthy defence sector.  The 5-year period under review saw a real reduction in the number of people available to develop, produce & support defence equipment, limiting the country’s capacity to respond to changing threats & risks.

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Hidden from sight, but vital part of UK’s ecosystem

MPs have cast doubt on the Government’s commitment to protect sea life in Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ).  It is now well over 4 years since the launch of the programme, yet only 27 of the 127 sites recommended have been designated & inadequate enforcement provisions put in place.  

The MPs are calling on the Government to bring forward the MCZ programme, so that more Zones are designated in the next phase, due in 2015.  Ministers should follow a precautionary principle approach to designating new Zones, according to the Committee, and use the ‘best available’ data rather than applying the more stringent evidence standards recently introduced by the Government – which require data that is much harder & more expensive to obtain.

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Maintaining the values that attract people to the UK

The Department for Education has launched a consultation on strengthening powers to intervene in schools which are failing to actively promote British values.  Currently there is no similar standard applied to local authority maintained schools.  Ofsted will introduce an equivalent expectation on maintained schools later in 2014.

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Breaking the cycle of disadvantage

Supporting families into work, improving living standards and raising educational attainment are the fundamental aims set out in the government’s child poverty strategy, published last week.

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Ensuring standard ‘look & feel’

The Cabinet Office and Government Digital Service have launched revised guidance for naming & registering government websites.

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Dignity in death

A new approach to caring for dying people based on the needs and wishes of the person and those close to them has been launched.  It takes the form of 5 new Priorities for Care, which succeed the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) as the new basis for caring for someone at the end of their life.

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A chance to ‘understand’ the CMA

The Competition & Markets Authority is looking for competition & consumer lawyers who would be interested in a secondment lasting between 3 & 12 months.  Secondees will be offered the opportunity to take part in a range of interesting & high-profile work including Competition Act (CA98) cases, consumer cases, mergers & market studies under the supervision of some leading competition & consumer practitioners.

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More contributions to the Referendum debate
Scotland Flag More news, opinions, documents, claims & counter-claims;
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Editorial Commentary by Simon Wane (Senior Editor)
Put aside speculation on Transition costs; Use ‘hindsight’ to foresee the ‘real’ issues

Most comments (from all sources) seem to be concentrating on speculating what costs a newly independent Scotland will incur, but in reality that is only a minor issue, as the main ‘problems’ it will face have been well documented in reports (many from the National Audit Office) over the decades.

Professor Dunleavy hints at this in the report on pages 9 – 10: By 2016 Scotland will have policy control of some of the biggest issues, but even in defence its capability will only just be beginning, and no complete separation from UK systems is envisaged.

Even in important areas like defence planning, back office and procurement, and some taxes, it will take a considerable time for Scotland to build up its own systems.  And in some technical areas, that matter a lot less for Scottish policymaking, the transition will take more than seven years.  For instance, Figure 4 shows that the registering of vehicles and licensing of drivers carried out by DVLA and three other UK agencies will continue to be based in Swansea until at least 2021.

‘Hindsight’ has consistently shown us that 7 main factors impact on the successful delivery of new/revised governmental organisations & systems:

  • Organisations having a lack of the necessary ability, skills & resource to specify requirements, negotiate contracts, manage & deliver projects
  • Inability of Ministers to accept that one gets 80% of the benefit from 20% of the cost & effort (Pareto Principle) and thus ‘over-specify’ requirements and overcomplicate it for both Users & Clients
  • Lack of ability & training to overcome in-house opposition to change culture of the organisation
  • Deadlines imposed by political ‘desire’ usually having no relation to ability to deliver
  • Lack of senior management ‘ownership’ to drive the project(s) to a successful conclusion
  • Lack of independent monitoring to ensure remedial action is taken when necessary (& it will be!)
  • Lack of training for staff using system

The SNP should forget trying to ‘grab embassies’ and put in a bid for the UK’s Major Projects Authority, experienced staff from the NAO to bolster Audit Scotland and even perhaps try & ‘claim’ Margaret Hodge MP (Chair of the Public Accounts Committee) to lead on monitoring project progress and costs.

Returning to the Dunleavy report, ‘having policy control’ is one thing, making sure functional systems are in place to implement the SNP policies will be quite another!  While rUK and Scottish politicians may eventually agree to continue to share systems (deciding operational terms & costs may take many months), they are unlikely to be ‘fit for purpose’ to deliver new SNP policies, as they are designed to deliver rUK policies.

Indeed, the declared intention of the SNP is not to replicate the systems, but to redesign them for greater efficiency – a logical aim.  Having had personal experience as an IT project manager and then spent over a decade monitoring the UK government’s efforts to ‘politically specify’, design, contract for, manage & deliver improved / new systems, one can only say – Best of luck within your timescale!

The only things certain if it is a ‘Yes’ vote is that new system(s) delivery will:

  • cost far more than budgeted
  • take far longer than planned (Just look at the new DWP welfare benefits scheme)
  • not deliver everything specified, or even work properly
  • generate lots of blame to be allocated between Scottish Government, Civil Servants and Suppliers

One other thing, neither ‘side’ has yet mentioned how they will meet all the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998 while ‘sharing’ these systems.

Finally, much has been made of the SNP’s red line policy of removing Trident within 5 years.  The natural counter to that for rUK, must be stopping co-operation and shared access to these computer systems in that event.

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