No one is without ‘economic stress’ in these austere days

A new report published by the TUC (Good practice in workplace mental health) says workers have been experiencing a significant increase in stress, which in some cases has led to mental ill health, as a result of the impact of austerity on their work & home lives.

Although there is greater public awareness of mental health, the number of workers affected by mental health issues is enormous, says the TUC.  Many employers do not deal with mental health issues and this may lead to many people losing their job, and even worse, failing to find new work as a result of the stigma associated with mental health issues.

Good practice in workplace mental health is based on a seminar held to share good practice examples from unions in different sectors and the experiences of delegates.  It focussed on preventing problems arising as well as solving them positively when they did occur.

Researched Links:

TUC:  Good workplace practices can spot & resolve mental health issues

Good practice in workplace mental health

CIPD:  1 in 4 of us have an ongoing difficult relationship at work

Vince Cable announces successful partners delivering £20m adult skills project to help mental health

New action plan to tackle mental health stigma in schools

Lowest earners three times more likely to suffer from poor sleep

Mental health scheme to help Hull pupils ‘before they fall’

New guidance to treat people who have both a mental health and substance misuse problem in Wales

De-Stressing the working environment can pay dividends

MEPs are also currently 'suffering work stress' as they face the issue of re-election

DWP:  Given the right help most people want to support themselves (2nd item)

Guardian:  New EU rules could mean more jobs for people with mental health problems


Essex CC: Adopting and Adapting ITIL to Improve Services While Reducing Costs

A focus on improving and refining IT Service Management (ITSM) through the adoption and adaption of ITIL® is helping local authorities to meet objectives despite continued financial pressures. A new case study, presented by AXELOS Global Best Practice, outlines how Essex County Council used ITIL to improve services while reducing costs.

The use of ITIL over the past four years has helped to improve the council’s ITSM, with the whole IT department now trained to at least ITIL foundation level.

Click here to view the full case study.

Clawing back some of the ‘excesses’ of these contracts
Government's Operational PPP Efficiency Programme surpasses its target having secured £2.1bn in savings - and is now seeking £2bn extra in savings.  There are approximately 700 PPP contracts covering local authority schemes such as schools, and larger infrastructure projects including hospitals, roads & waste management projects.  Over the past few years, local procuring authorities have reviewed their existing contracts & arrangements with the private sector; securing efficiency savings by changing the parameters of services or finding better use of the assets concerned.
Researched Links:

HMT:  Efficiency drive by government on PPPs nets £2.1bn

Operational PPP Efficiency Programme

Savings from operational PFI contracts

Code of conduct for operational PFI/PPP contracts

CBI comments on new code of conduct for PFI/PPP contracts

Deficit reduction is not all about raising taxes, reducing services or cutting benefits

Ministers are clear town halls no longer have the luxury of procuring waste management equipment in isolation and therefore must work together to deliver a better deal for local taxpayers. A report has found £70m could be saved by town halls every year simply through better procurement and more standardised processes.

It said every wheeled bin in England costs an estimated £5 more than it does in Germany, therefore a council splashing out on 50,000 branded bins could be wasting £250,000 of local taxpayer’s money.  The report suggested potential savings of up to 10% on refuse trucks and more than a third (35%) on bins could be achieved through clearer specification and procuring in larger volumes with other councils.

Researched Links:

CLG:  Better bin buying would save £70m every year, says report

Make a bonfire of wasteful practices

WAG:  University & Hospital show Minister how Invest to Save is helping them deliver more efficient services

Check out what Aylesbury Vale Council achieved

Opening up a world of information
A number of departments are now starting to publish in open formats and major software providers are improving their support.  The standards set out the document file formats that all government bodies should use.  This makes it easier for citizens to access & work with the information that government publishes.  It also enables civil servants to work more efficiently through sharing & collaborating on documents.
Researched Links:

Cabinet Office:  Further progress made on open standards

Open Formats for more Open Government

Joint open data initiative ‘game changer’ for social enterprise industry

Eric Pickles champions open government with new wave of town hall transparency

EC welcomes Parliament adoption of new EU Open Data rules

Ordnance Survey becomes a Principal Member of the Open Geospatial Consortium

techUK launches Big Data & Analytics monthly newsletter

Government ICT moves from the equivalent of ‘2G to 4G’ by looking up to the clouds

GDS Director of Transformation, Mike Beaven, has blogged about the last 400 days of transforming major public services.  Although the exemplar programme has now ended, the work they did – and wrote about on the digital transformation blog – was really only the start.

The wider digital transformation of government continues.  GDS is working with a number of departments to improve & expand more services to meet user needs, build new platforms for use across government, and get better value for money (up to 40% in one example).
Researched Links:

Government Digital Service (GDS) Blogs:  The end of the beginning: looking to the future of digital transformation – (GDS Blogs:  Government as a Platform: the next phase of digital transformation

GDS Blogs:  Better for less

GDS:  What Cabinet Office technology data tells us

Computerworlduk:  Cabinet office claims 40% savings as Fujitsu deal expires

Government perspective on change made

techUK: Opportunity: Cloud Campaign

Joined-up care by law

The Health & Social Care (Safety & Quality) Act 2015 that aims to improve safety & quality of care has received Royal Assent.  Among the measures introduced by the act is a duty on health & adult social care providers to share information about a person’s care with other health & care professionals. This means that doctors and other professionals providing a person’s care and treatment will have the information they need so they can treat patients more effectively.

Relevant health & adult social care bodies will also be required to use a consistent identifier - the NHS Number - when processing and/or sharing information about an individual for their direct care. This will enable better connection of health & care records as people move between services, so relevant information is shared, meaning safer and better aligned care.

Researched Links:

DH:  Safer care for patients

But are the NHS & LAs flexible enough to make the necessary changes to service delivery?

Man with mental health issues dies after failings by two NHS trusts

National patient survey says 80% report a good A&E experience, but there are still problems with patient discharge and people waiting too long for pain relief

Improving flow of patients

National survey shows ‘encouraging’ improvements in people’s hospital experiences

£10m funding for hospital aftercare for the homeless

Commitment to enhancing NHS performance

Planning & delivering for patients

GPs likely to become named clinician for vulnerable older people

Continuity of care failing frail older people in hospitals

Greater integration of health care has led to improved care processes, more satisfied staff & reduced use of hospitals

Hunt:  NHS must fundamentally change to solve A&E problems

ScotGov:  Health & social care integration takes step forward

Reducing visits to A&E

An extra £550M funding for NHS will improve access to GPs, modernise GP surgeries and improve out-of-hospital care.  For patients, this will mean:

  • 18m people will, by March 2016, be offered more evening & weekend, video, email & telephone consultations - the equivalent of 8,000 more appointments a day
  • over 8.5m people will see redevelopment of their existing practices, to increase clinical space & offer additional services
  • greater access to pharmacists, nurses & speech therapists from local GP surgeries
  • more personalised advice from pharmacists who will be able to access medical records
  • more tests, treatments & services offered closer to people’s homes, including minor operations & blood tests
Researched Links:

DH:  GP evening & weekend appointments to increase

ScotGov:  Review of out-of-hours primary care

Out-of-hours GP services in England

Seven day, 8am – 8pm, GP access for hard working people

Why has it taken so long to introduce?

Health & social care providers across the country will benefit from £78m this year to invest in technology & help them move from paper-based clinical records to integrated digital care records.  £43m of Integrated Digital Care funding will be used by NHS Trusts & LAs to put in place electronic information systems which make sharing information between care settings easier and ensure that patients only tell their story once.

Approval has also been granted for the second tranche of the Nursing Technology Fund which makes £35m available to Trusts, health charities & community health providers to spend on digital services that will support nurses, midwives & healthcare assistants (Editor:  What about 10,000 plus Health Visitors?) in their work and help them release time to care.

Researched Links:

NHS England:  Latest round of technology funding announced

Backlog reduced
British citizens living abroad will need to apply to renew their passports online or at local offices as usual, as one of the contingency measures brought in to cope with the exceptional demand last year comes to an end.  More than 20,000 customers benefited from the contingency measure, which was brought in to prevent the disruption of travel plans.
Researched Links:

Home Office:  Temporary passport extension stamp ends for British citizens living abroad

And about time too many would say
The Government is working closely with ports & carriers for the introduction of exit checks at the border from 8 April 2015.   Exit checks will improve the government’s understanding of who is leaving the UK and create a much clearer picture of who is staying in the country when they have no right to be here.  They will also help the police & security services track the movements of known criminals & terrorists.
Researched Links:

HO:  Operators ready for introduction of exit checks

‘Gamekeepers’ arrested for ‘mishandling’ evidence
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined the Serious Fraud Office £180,000 after a witness in a serious fraud, bribery & corruption investigation was mistakenly sent evidence relating to 64 other people involved in the case.
Researched Links:
ICO:  Serious Fraud Office fined after evidence from BAE Systems ‘bribery’ investigation wrongly disclosed
A sign of the next ‘mis-selling scandal’
The ICO has confirmed it has launched an investigation into allegations about firms sharing sensitive personal data, including pension details.  A report claimed several companies involved in the cold calling sector appeared to be breaking the law, and the ICO is now making enquiries to establish whether there have been any breaches of the Data Protection Act or Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations.
Researched Links:

ICO launches investigation into firms sharing sensitive data

Daily Mail:  Warning on pension-scam data sales

Silence helps ensure political balance
In the run up to an election a period called ‘purdah’ applies to government funded organisations, such as the STFC.  They have to be very careful not to do or say anything that could be seen in any way to support any political party or candidate.  They will not be issuing any press releases and they will only publish essential news during this time.
Researched Links:

STFC:  News during the Election period

The pre-election period: what it means for Monitor

Connecting to safety
A Patient Safety Alert has been issued by NHS England to raise awareness of the introduction of new medical device connectors.  The connectors are being introduced to prevent the danger of connecting the wrong types of medical devices together.  All NHS providers who use medical devices affected by the change are asked to ensure that staff are aware and that action plans are being developed to minimise risks during the transition to the new connectors.
Researched Links:
NHS England:  Patient safety alert – Managing risks during the transition period to new ISO connectors for medical devices

 More contributions to the UK constitutional debate

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

Researched Links:

PC&PE:  Committee calls for a constitutional convention

PC&PE:  Constitutional reform should be scrutinised by a dedicated committee

ScotGov:  First Scottish taxes in 300 years

WAG:  New freedoms for Welsh councils to improve housing and build new homes

WAG:  Full devolution of Non-domestic rates marks a major first milestone for fiscal devolution

ScotGov:  Landmark voting age bill to engage young people


Please note that previously published newsletters can be accessed from the

Newsletter Archive

Please choose from the links below to view individual sections of interest:

“If you treat your staff like enemies, what does that say about you as an employer?”
TUC boss Frances O'Grady is unhappy about the way public services staff have been treated by the current government. Read what she has to say here, and let us know what you think in the comments section or on Twitter.

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How the internet of things could revolutionise council services

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Civil service pay freeze: the cracks are beginning to show

Civil service pay freeze: the cracks are beginning to show
Only the public sector seeks to recruit and retain highly marketable skills with bargain basement pay

Pedal power: why London is ahead of the pack on cycling

Pedal power: why London is ahead of the pack on cycling
A lack of funding for sustainable transport schemes and cycling infrastructure is holding other cities back

Global Views
Women in Parliaments: 'If we want to change society we need power'

Women in Parliaments: 'If we want to change society we need power'
Women hold just 22.1% of global parliamentary seats, but those who met in Ethiopia have ideas for change

News in Brief

• Civil servants told to ask a minister before speaking to the media
• But Francis Maude warned by scientists over 'chilling effect' of these new rules
• Civil servants accused of bias during Scotland's independence referendum
• Preston topped the list of Britain's unhealthiest high streets
• Lib Dems pledged £2bn extra funding for mental health

What you’re saying about...
Frances O’Grady: 'Britain has been very good at creating bad jobs'

Frances O’Grady: 'Britain has been very good at creating bad jobs'
Tamsin Rutter speaks to the TUC boss about what the election means for public sector workers