Is the NHS too big to change the way it works?

The Carter Review says hospitals must standardise procedures, be more transparent and work more closely with neighbouring NHS trusts.  Implementing the recommendations will help end variations in quality of care and finances that cost the NHS £bns, Lord Carter has advised Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt in his final report.   His review found unwarranted variation in running costs, sickness absence, infection rates and prices paid for supplies & services.

As part of the review, a ‘model hospital’ has been developed which will advise NHS trusts on the most efficient allocation of resources and allows hospitals to measure performance against other trusts.

Researched Links:

DH:  Review shows how NHS hospitals can save money & improve care

LGA:  Response to Lord Carter's report on delayed discharges

techUK:  Lord Carter is right to demand greater digital maturity & integration in the NHS

Patients Association welcomes the findings of the Carter Review

NHS Confed:  Lord Carter review can help control costs

Must learn from each other

Financing the promised £8bn by 2020

In an age when everyone seeks the best price for everything over the internet, surely NHS procurement should provide value for money?

We seem to have been talking about this for decades


NHS IT:  Older, Fatter, and Twisted
The Unsustainable Status Quo
Download the full WiredGov Subscriber Survey Report

We’ve all read the headlines: with the population growing and the rising costs of 21st century ailments, the National Health Service will not be able to keep up under the strain. The same afflictions could be attributed to the UK National Health Service IT structure. Old database technologies, paper documentation, and disconnected information systems will also buckle under the weight without sufficient investment.  Without a drastic life change, the health services that the UK has proudly benefited from will perish.

In the month prior to the due date for the submission of the Digital Maturity Self-Assessment, Optimity Advisors conducted a survey with Health Care Providers, local health authorities and Clinical Commissioning Groups across the major regions of England including Ireland and Scotland.  The findings are illuminating.

This paper provides a peek into the state of health of the NHS Information Technology systems and offers a diagnosis for its sustainability and longevity.

Click here to download your free copy of the survey report.

Will they extensively pilot IT in Carter’s  ‘Model Hospital’?
IT expert Professor Bob Wachter has launched a review of computer systems across the NHS.  The review, ‘Making IT work: harnessing the power of health IT to improve care in England’, will look at places where IT has worked well and those areas that need improving.  It will also look at different ways to implement IT in healthcare as the NHS works towards being paperless by 2020.
Researched Links:

DH:  Review of information technology in NHS

Why the NHS National Programme for IT didn't work - CIO UK (Editor: This was originally budgeted at £2.3bn before being ‘killed off’ after spending £12.3bn)

It’s the old ‘songs’ that we keep hearing again & again (3rd item)

BCS Health advises Trusts not to rely on stimulus funds to progress sustainable informatics strategy in light of budget cuts

MPs publish report on the dismantled National Programme for IT in the NHS

Review of the final benefits statement for programmes previously managed under the National Programme for IT in the NHS

Dismantling the NHS National Programme for IT

The £16 billion question: What's wrong with government IT?

NAO offers forensic analysis of NHS IT programme

The National Programme for IT in the NHS: Progress since 2006

Still much ‘work’ to be done

In its report, the Joint Committee on the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill supports the intention behind the draft Bill, which is to bring together the numerous provisions in statute governing intrusive powers which already exist into one clear piece of legislation.   But the Committee finds that important clarity is lacking in a number of areas.

The Committee makes 86 detailed recommendations aimed at ensuring that the powers within the Bill are workable, can be clearly understood by those affected by them and have proper safeguards. The single biggest safeguard is the much greater involvement of judges in authorising warrants for intrusive capabilities, which the Committee welcomes.

Researched Links:

PC&PE:  Investigatory Powers - on the right track but significant changes needed

techUK welcomes Parliament's recognition of Big Data as a UK Success Story

techUK:  Joint Committee Calls for Significant Changes to Draft IP Bill

techUK welcomes Intelligence & Security Committee report into IP Bill

NCA:  Draft Investigatory Powers Bill – law enforcement evidence

BCS urges Government to consider reckless disclosure of data to be a criminal offence under the Investigatory Powers Bill

‘Dry’ but critically important subject

But people still want to see them ‘punished’
The PM announces reform to the prison system including 6 new 'reform prisons' to be created this year and changes to the prison education system.
Researched Links:

MoJ:  PM outlines plan for reform of prisons – (MoJ:  PM calls for rethink of treatment of pregnant women in prison

MoJ:  Review of the youth justice system

PM calls for rethink of treatment of pregnant women in prison

Review of racial bias & BAME representation in Criminal Justice System announced

Minister marks £2.5bn employment & skills funding boost with visit to prison restaurant

IPPR - Make councils pay for prison places, in bid to reduce prison population

Review into the care & management of transgender offenders

Prison building revolution announced by Chancellor and Justice Secretary

Wrexham prison pumps £ms into economy of North Wales and gets set to become major employer

Proposals for bold action on reoffending

The treasure in the heart of man - making prisons work

Reducing barriers to employability

Styal prison launches new open unit

Is taxpayers' money used effectively to reduce crime?

Search begins to find best organisations to tackle high reoffending rates

Policy Exchange - Replace old jails with new state-of-the-art Hub Prisons

Offender mentor hub launched

New monitoring group for prisons

Military style’ lessons to teach prisoners how to read and write

No education, no chance of a job (2nd item)

PRT:  Can they legally be treated differently than men?

SME Supplier Locator update...

UK Government and public sector spend with SME’s is continually on the increase and by 2020, it is the stated intent of Cabinet Office that £1 of every £3 spent on government contracts goes to SME’s. The past 5 years have seen government make a priority of getting money through its supply chain into the hands of SMEs, by both setting targets and introducing new procurement mechanisms.

Against this backdrop, our Supplier Locator service has been developed specifically to embrace the SME Agenda and provide the ideal platform for SME’s to promote their services, solutions, accreditation and success stories directly to our ever increasing audience across all government and public sector verticals and Tier 1 suppliers.

The most recent arrivals to the Supplier Locator include:

ITS: Info Technology Supply Ltd

i3 Digital

Cathedral Stationery Ltd

Luna Studio

Visit Supplier Locator now.

Alternatively, click here to find out more about registering your company with the Supplier Locator.

Let’s also ban excessive pay for charity bosses
Organisations receiving government grants will be banned from using these taxpayer funds to lobby government & Parliament.  A new clause to be inserted into all new & renewed grant agreements will make sure that taxpayer funds are spent on improving people’s lives & good causes, rather than lobbying for new regulation or using taxpayers’ money to lobby for more government funding.  It will not prevent organisations from using their own privately-raised funds to campaign as they see fit.
Researched Links:

Cabinet Office:  Government announces new clause to be inserted into grant agreements

IEA welcomes the end of state-funded lobbying

IPPR:  Small charities face double whammy of cash cuts and rising demand

Government tells lobbying charities to ‘Put a sock in it’

Unfortunately some families find it difficult / impossible to overcome the drivers of poverty

The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) has called for a far-reaching overhaul of the existing poverty measures.  The think tank is urging the Government to take into account the 5 main drivers of povertyfamily breakdown, worklessness, drug & alcohol addiction, personal debt and educational failure – in its new reforms.

The CSJ has devised a ‘life chance risk’ assessment whereby a child would be deemed to be in poverty if they were found to have 1 or 2 life chance risks and their family to fall below one of the income measures. Where a child had 3 or more life chance risks, the child would be considered to be in entrenched poverty.

Researched Links:

CSJ calls for bold new measure of poverty

JRF - Responding to the Annual Poverty lecture speech

An alternative option for the Chancellor to ‘think about’?

Helping people to achieve what they are capable of

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

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

Breaking the cycle of disadvantage

Even after the crime they hide behind ‘family honour’ to persuade the girls not to complain
Public health minister Jane Ellison has launched an FGM prevention week of action and is urging health & care professionals to help prevent FGM.  It was launched at the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM National Conference.  There are currently 60,000 girls aged 0 to 14 years living in the UK who are potentially at risk of FGM.
Researched Links:

DH:  Female genital mutilation prevention week of action

After all these years they still don’t realise?

A foreign cultural tradition that has no place in the UK

They are already ‘in a bad place’ even before being ‘banged-up’ in  a cell
Restricting the use of police cells for those experiencing a mental health crisis; Banning the use of police cells as a place of safety for under 18s and ensuring they are only used for adults in exceptional circumstances.  In delivering a manifesto pledge to ensure proper provision of places of safety for people in this situation, the Home Office will take forward legislation to greatly restrict the circumstances when a police cell can be used.
Researched Links:

Home Office:  Restricting the use of police cells for those experiencing a mental health crisis

IPCC:  Mental Health & Police Custody

The welfare of vulnerable people in police custody

A police cell is not a mental health ward

Mental health staff working with police & courts now cover half of England

One never knows if a sudden crisis will impact on you or a family member

Fast Broadband connection should be part of Building Standards
An industry-led agreement has been announced between UK Government, BT Openreach and the Home Builders Federation (HBF) to see fibre based broadband offered to all new builds homes either for free or as part of a co-funded initiative.

techUK:  New initiative enables new build homes to have superfast broadband connectivity

When is a ‘gift / hospitality’ more like a ‘bribe’
The NAO has published the findings from its investigation into the acceptance of gifts & hospitality by government officials.

NAO:  Investigation into the acceptance of gifts & hospitality

Children do not need energy intake of rowers
A tax on sugary drinks should be introduced as part of a series of measures to combat rising levels of obesity in the UK, according to a new Policy Exchange report.  The report, authored by double Olympic gold medallist, James Cracknell OBE, says that while a sugary drinks tax is not a magic bullet, but with soft drinks providing 29% of daily sugar for 11-18 year olds, it is on balance a sensible intervention to help prevent the rise in obesity, especially among children.  He argues that any revenue raised through the new tax should be spent on preventing obesity rather than treatment.

PX:  James Cracknell argues for a tax on sugary drinks

Evidently it’s not just little girls that are made of ‘sugar & spice and all things nice’

Help for sodden farmers
Farming Minister George Eustice has urged farmers wanting support to restore farmland damaged by December’s storms to get their applications in as soon as possible before the 1 April 2016 deadline in order to access vital funds sooner.  All farmers in Cumbria, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Durham or Northumberland who have suffered losses as a result of flooding caused by Storm Desmond or Storm Eva are eligible to apply for support grants of up to £20,000.

Defra:  Call for Farming Recovery Fund applications

No option but to pay!
Citizens Advice’s analysis finds that yearly care home fees increased on average by £900 across England in the last financial year.  In one region residential care home fees rose over £2,000 on average in the same period.  Whilst care home fees are usually based on a weekly rate, and often paid for monthly by direct debt, a mystery shopping investigation of 404 care homes across England reveals that 8% only give a week’s notice that their fees are going to rise.  This means that, after just 1 week, residents have to start paying the higher price, which could cost them an average of £52 extra a month.

CAB:  Thousands of older people at the mercy of care home price rises

It’s one thing to pay for you own care, but why should ‘silver savers’ have to subsidise the care of those who didn’t save?

Overcoming entrenched or repeat homelessness
Homeless Link are pleased to announce the launch of Housing First England; a collaborative project aimed at improving the lives of people experiencing entrenched or repeat homelessness.  Over the next 3 years they aim to make the Housing First model a viable & integrated housing option across the country.  They are calling on those who are interested to get in touch; whether a current provider, looking to set up a project, or if you are generally interested in finding out more.
Researched Links:

Homeless Link:  Help make Housing First a viable accommodation option in England - join the movement now

Housing First England

Different countries, similar problems, transferable solutions

Everyone needs a ‘home’

‘Housing’ is not just about ‘home ownership’

The basic issue is that they often find it hard to ‘cope with life’

How better’ is often the unasked question when ‘tonight’s homeless’ is the immediate problem

Editorial Comment:  Spanish Civil War remembered in the ruins of Aleppo

Watching the bombing of civilian areas in Syria by the Russian airforce, one cannot help but be reminded of a similar situation that existed during the Spanish Civil war when right-wing General Franco (the ‘Dictator to be’ – sounds familiar?) and the Nationalists were ‘supported’ by the German airforce’s Condor Legion, in their battles with the International Brigade and the left-wing Republican government.

In hind-sight the Germans were perfecting their ‘terror techniques’, which would be utilised in their Blitzkrieg attack on the allies in WW2 to devastating effect.  Bombing of civilian areas and even the clogged roads full of fleeing refugees were to play a crucial role in the early stages of the war.  Today in Aleppo we seem to be watching a replay of the bombing of Guernica. 

The Bombing of Guernica, 1937 - EyeWitness to History


 More contributions to the EU Referendum

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

Researched Links:

NIESR: Facts can beat fiction in the immigration debate

Adam Smith Inst:  Liberalise immigration to boost international development, says new report


 More contributions to the UK constitutional debate

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

Researched Links:

ScotGov:  Fiscal Framework papers will be published

ScotGov:  Protecting our seas

PC&PE:  Fiscal framework must be true to principles of Smith Commission

ScotGov:  Income tax freeze

ScotGov:  Governments unite to defend independence of the BBC


Please note that previously published newsletters can be accessed from the

Newsletter Archive

Editorial Announcement

The number of web-based sections of the WGPlus newsletter are being increased from this week with the addition of:

  • Health, Social care and Homelessness
  • ICT and Data Management / Security
Please choose from the links below to view individual sections of interest:

The idea of "laboratories of democracy", which has been around as long as the man standing behind Hillary Clinton as she scraped through in Iowa, once again surfaced in Nesta's report on devolution last week. Devolution in the UK has opened space for trial and error, wrote David Walker on the network, but its shambolic structure in the UK is more a source of political sniping than innovation.

Also on the network
Londoners do not have to take low pay and insecure jobs as a given

Londoners do not have to take low pay and insecure jobs as a given
Mary O'Hara: Working conditions have deteriorated in the capital, where pay inequality is greatest

New law could confuse police misconduct with criminal offence

New law could confuse police misconduct with criminal offence
Sarah Green, IPCC: Police corruption offence is open to interpretation and could be used too widely

For many library visitors, I'm the only person they've talked to all day

For many library visitors, I'm the only person they've talked to all day
Letter to the public: As austerity creeps further into people’s lives, more are turning to libraries like mine

News in brief
• Cameron ‘buying off’ Tory MPs threatening to rebel over council cuts
• Lancashire council defends fracking refusal as 'democracy in action'
• Library campaigners descend on parliament to defend public funding
• Business department to shrink estate from 80 sites to eight
• John Manzoni said centre of government should be less 'shrill'
• All Scottish councils reluctantly accept funding deal