Would they want their family members treated like this?

The NHS complaints system still exposes many patients to a gruelling & unsatisfactory process, despite numerous high level calls for reforms, a new report from the Patients Association (PA) warns.  A survey of more than 1,200 patients carried out by the PA found high levels of dissatisfaction with the complaints process with patients frequently encountering unhelpful & defensive staff, complicated procedures to negotiate and sometimes dishonest replies.

The findings show that some patients are so daunted by the procedures or seen as a trouble-maker by hospital staff, that they do not bring a complaint despite having grounds to do so.

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   2014 Absence Management Survey

More than one in three employers report that absence levels have increased because their staff are struggling to cope with their caring responsibilities outside of work. But, new figures from the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, show that just one in six organisations have policies in place to help achieve a better balance between their home and working lives. 

The annual CIPD/Simplyhealth Absence Management survey shows that savvy employers put policies in place to help staff fulfil their caring responsibilities outside of work while continuing to meet the demands of their job

Other findings from the survey show that overall absence levels have dropped from 7.6 days per year to 6.6 (public sector: 7.9, private sector: 5.5, voluntary sector: 7.4). However, findings also show that there has been a significant rise in the number of employees still attending work whilst sick, a trend called ‘presenteeism,’ with a third of employers revealing employees have been struggling in to work whilst sick.

Click here to find out more and download the report.

For want of pollinators much of our food may not grow

The government is launching a new strategy to support bees & other pollinators that are vital for fertilising plants so they produce fruits & seeds.  Organisations such as Network Rail, Highways Agency and the National Trust which manage more than 800,000 hectares of land in England have signed up to the National Pollinator Strategy, and pledged to take actions such as planting more bee-friendly wild flowers and allowing grass to grow longer.

Defra is setting up bee hives on the roof of their building in London and supermarkets including Waitrose and Coop have been distributing bee-friendly flower seeds to their customers.  Motorway verges, railway embankments and forests will be used to create bee & insect friendly paradises as part of the major new strategy to protect the 1,500 species of pollinators in England.

Defra has also announced a wild pollinator & farm wildlife package, which will see more funding made available to farmers & landowners that take steps to protect pollinators through the new Countryside Stewardship Scheme.

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‘Entertaining’ TV is just one version of ‘The Truth’

A study has found that people living in a working-class area of Manchester want to work and believe programmes like Channel 4's Benefits Street do not accurately reflect their community & misrepresent their personal circumstances.  The proliferation of such programmes & their impact are, rightly or wrongly, shaping public attitudes to welfare & policy, the study concludes.

The findings were reported in the Open Society Foundation’s 'Europe's White Working Class Community: Manchester', with research conducted by the Social Action and Research Foundation (SARF) – a social enterprise that produces policies to combat poverty. The report highlights the impact a precarious job market has on a community in Manchester where people have few options but to move in & out of low-paid jobs – or completely fail to find any work at all.

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Be honest – could you raise a family on the Minimum Wage?

The new Living Wage rate for the UK has been announced at an event in York hosted by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF).  The Living Wage outside London will be £7.85 - a 20p increase on last year and higher than the £6.50 National Minimum Wage.

The rate is based on JRF’s Minimum Income Standard research, which considers what income is needed to provide an adequate standard of living.  The Living Wage is paid voluntarily, with organisations accredited by the Living Wage Foundation (LFF). The Living Wage enjoys cross-party support and public backing from the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition.

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Everything is very ‘personal’ when you are a child

In a report published last week, the Health Select Committee concludes that there are serious & deeply ingrained problems with the commissioning & provision of children’s & adolescents’ mental health services.  These run through the whole system from prevention & early intervention through to inpatient services for the most vulnerable young people.

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‘Talk, Talk’ is better than ‘Law, Law’

From 3 November 2014 the first mediation session for separating couples will be funded for both parties, provided at least one of them is already legally aided.  This follows the introduction, on 22 April, of compulsory Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings (MIAM) when separating couples apply to court over children & financial matters.

Last year nearly two thirds of couples who attended mediation for a child dispute reached general agreement after a single mediation session.  Almost 7 out of every 10 couples, who opted for mediation, reached a final agreement.

From 1 January 2015 there will be a third stage in the government’s work to improve mediation and encourage separating couples to use it to resolve disputes.  From the beginning of the New Year, the Family Mediation Council (FMC) is introducing a compulsory accreditation scheme and new professional standards which all mediators must work toward.  These are the latest stages of reforms to improve the family justice system and follow recommendations made by the independent Family Mediation Task Force.

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This one will run & run

The IPCC is to carry out an independent investigation into the conduct of 3 Police Federation representatives following their meeting with Andrew Mitchell MP at his Sutton Coldfield constituency office in October 2012.  The IPCC had previously supervised an investigation by West Mercia Police, but the case was re-determined by IPCC Commissioner Jan Williams following a High Court ruling on 6 October 2014, which found that there was no proper final report prepared for the supervised investigation and that the decision of the 3 police forces that there was no case to answer for any of the officers was invalid.

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Pay up or no access to credit

Separated parents who fail to contribute financially to the upbringing of their children, face ruining their credit rating from next year.  This means that arrears built up in maintenance payments will have the same effect on people’s credit score as other debts.  Having a poor credit rating can cause people to be refused loans, mortgages, credit cards, hire purchase finance arrangements, mobile phone contracts and other forms of financial credit.

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This could really hurt (your organisation)

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is warning organisations that they must make sure their websites are protected against one of the most common forms of online attack – known as SQL injection.  The warning comes after the hotel booking website, Worldview Limited, was fined £7,500 following a serious data breach where a vulnerability on the company’s site allowed attackers to access the full payment card details of 3,814 customers.

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It’s more than just the EAW

As the major debate in the House of Commons approaches on whether to re-join the European Arrest Warrant and 34 other EU police & criminal justice measures, the European Scrutiny Committee is publishes a report to provide a guide to the UK’s 2014 ‘block opt-out’ decision.

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 More contributions to the UK constitutional debate

More news, opinions, documents, claims & counter-claims;

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23rd October 2014

Town halls for sale: what Ealing's plans reveal about the state of local councils, writes Hannah Fearn this week. Find out more here.

Central Government
NHS Five Year Forward View: bold promise of £22bn savings will fall short

NHS Five Year Forward View: bold promise of £22bn savings will fall short
Chief executive Simon Stevens’s plans are ambitious but unlikely to get the £8bn annual funds the NHS needs without further cuts to services

Demoralised public sector staff find it hard to be creative

Demoralised public sector staff find it hard to be creative
Jobs cuts and hiring freezes see morale, security and creativity plummet while public sector top jobs risk becoming ‘unattractive’

Local Government

Town halls for sale: what Ealing’s plans reveal about the plight of local councils

Town halls for sale: what Ealing’s plans reveal about the plight of local councils
Cash-strapped small councils are selling their history to private developers to buy themselves a little more time in the face of cuts

News in Brief
• Civil service chief under fire for keeping job at drink manufacturer
• Nick Clegg dismisses criticism from Mail and Telegraph on parental pay
• Whitehall cleaners gather outside HMRC to campaign for living wage
What you're saying about...

Does working in public services run in the genes?

Does working in public services run in the genes?
Children of parents who work in public services often follow in their footsteps. Sarah Dawood finds out why