Due to the Government purdah on EU-related news items the next 2 newsletters will be published bi-weekly on 13 & 27 June.

Why is their (apparently) no ‘cure’ for this perennial NHS problem?

A new report reveals (yet again) that too many people who complain to the NHS are not getting the answers they deserve when things go wrong.  This latest shapshot of investigations by the Parliamentary & Health Service Ombudsman shows the devastating consequences families suffer when complaints are not resolved locally.

The PHSO investigates approximately 4,000 complaints a year and upholds around 37%.  When it upholds complaints it makes recommendations for the organisation to put things right if they have not done so already. Most of the summaries published are of complaints upheld or partly upheld.

The 133 cases in the report were investigated between July and September 2015 and include 93 complaints about the NHS. Incidents of avoidable death, delayed cancer diagnosis, mistreatment of patients with mental health problems and poor end of life care are among the upheld NHS complaints in the report.  These are the cases which provide clear & valuable lessons for public services by showing what needs to change to help avoid the same mistake happening again.

Researched Links:

PHSO:  Ombudsman report highlights the devastating impact of service failures & poor complaints handling across the public sector

NHS Confed:  Response to patient complaints published by Ombudsman

Is the NHS just too big to improve?


Five years ago Mary Portas reviewed the decaying state of Britain’s high streets and town centres and recommended a path forward to give them a new lease on life.

The Portas Review was a great start, but failed to realise the foundational role of technology and intelligent data in driving a resurgence of Britain’s high streets.

The government’s continued commitment to restoring our vibrant high streets is evident in the formation of both the Future High Streets Forum (FHSF) and the Digital High Street Advisory Board (both DCLG initiatives), along the publication of ‘The Digital High Street Report 2020’ which details how private, public and third-sector collaboration will future-proof high streets by using digital technology to generate billions of pounds of additional revenue.

In particular, three key areas can help accelerate progress and bring together local communities: 

  • Embedding electronic payments in a city/town’s DNA
  • Improving access to city/town centres
  • Maximising growth potential through intelligent data analytics

CLICK HERE to download your copy of “Five Years after the Portas Review: A Path to Revitalise Britain’s High Streets”, and learn about specific measures that can help revitalise your high street!

Perhaps they figure the ‘departed’ won’t be able to complain to the PHSO!

Hospice UK has published a new report - A low priority? How local health and care plans overlook the needs of dying people.  The report is based on the results of a Freedom of Information (FOI) request sent to clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and health & wellbeing boards (HWBs) about whether or not end of life & palliative care was included in their needs assessments and local strategies.

The report explores how local statutory structures address the palliative & end of life care needs of adults & children within their planning & decision-making.  It found that:

  • 34% do not consider the needs of dying people in their local populations.
  • 27% do not have a strategy for addressing end of life care in their area.
  • 71% do not have a strategy for children & young people living with life-shortening conditions
Researched Links:

Patients Association:  Reaction to new End of Life report on needs of dying people

A death without sympathy or proper care

Patient Care, not just treatment

After decades of practice the NHS should be getting it right by now!

Trying to ‘do better’
The Care Quality Commission have published their strategy for 2016 – 2021, developed following a year-long consultation period when thousands of people, providers, staff & partners shared their views about the future of regulation.  The new strategy is intended to help encourage services to innovate & collaborate to drive improvement, and ensure people receive good, safe care.  See Information on our strategy for the 4 priorities CQC have set out for the next 5 years and to view the documents.

CQC:  Our new 5-year strategy 'Shaping the future'

Information on our strategy

Simple things are sometimes the most (cost) effective

A GP surgery is leading the way in the fight against antibiotic resistance with simple tests that dramatically reduce unnecessary prescribing.

Attenborough Surgery in Bushey, Hertfordshire, was awarded £10,000 “acorn” funding in the 2015/16 NHS Innovation Challenge Prizes to further develop its system of point-of-care fingerprick blood tests which help clinicians decide whether antibiotics are really necessary for patients who visit with respiratory infections.

Spearheaded by Advanced Nurse Practitioner Liz Cross, all patients visiting the surgery with chesty coughs in winter 2015/16 were given the quick blood test, which shows levels of C-reactive Protein (CRP), a biomedical marker of bacterial infections. This allowed nurse practitioners to reduce antibiotics prescribed by 23%.

Researched Links:

NHS England:  Challenge Prize cash supporting GP surgery to fight antibiotic resistance

Hospitals are not ‘doing their bit’ to reduce need to use antibiotics

Helping guard against a return to pre-antibiotic medical care

We need to find an answer to this conundrum

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, the WiredGov 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.

Click here to find out more and view this week’s new arrivals to the SME Supplier Locator service. 

Good concept let down by poor implementation?

The NAO reported on the Cabinet Office’s Next Generation Shared Services strategy in 2014, which included the creation of 2 independent shared service centres to provide back-office functions for up to 14 departments & their arm’s-length bodies.  The report found that while the 2 centres have led to some cost savings, the programme is not progressing as planned.

Most departments which planned to outsource functions to 1 of the 2 centres have successfully done so. The centres have delivered overall savings of £90m to customers in the first two & a half years of operation with costs of £94m. These savings are less than the £128m a year originally forecast because some departments have not outsourced and transformed their back-office functions as planned. The Cabinet Office currently estimates that the 2 contracts will generate savings of £484m in total by 2023-24 at a cost of £159m.

The report found that due to delays in designing, building & testing the systems, only 2 of the 26 planned customers have joined a single operating platform.  On one of the centres, 4 customers have exited their contracts.  The report has found that weaknesses in the programme design undermined its success.  The Cabinet Office did not secure sufficient buy-in from departments at an early stage of the programme.

Researched Links:

NAO:  Shared service centres

Update on the Next Generation Shared Services Strategy

New initiative to drive down costs in government back offices

First Independent Shared Service Centre to deliver government back office savings

Committee publishes report on shared service centres in Government

NAO:  Efficiency & reform in government corporate functions through shared service centres

Why add to the risks they face?
Lariam, the anti-malarial drug sometimes prescribed to British troops, should be considered only as a drug of last resort, says the Defence Committee, in its report on the MoD’s use of the drug.
Researched Links:

PC&PE:  Lariam should be 'drug of last resort' for troops

End of the road for Lariam? The malaria drug soldiers claim increases psychosis

Lariam: Indications, Side Effects, Warnings - Drugs.com

£3bn pledge to help end Malaria deaths

The Ross Fund - Combatting the world's most serious diseases

Release potential of GM insects to fight disease & pests

Malaria death rates drop by 60%

PHE:  Malaria -health advice for travellers

Shouldn’t everyone be ‘equal’ under the (same) laws in this country?
An independent review into the application of Sharia Law in England & Wales has been launched by Home Secretary Theresa May.  The Home Secretary committed to an independent review of the application of Sharia Law as part of the government’s Counter-Extremism Strategy.
Researched Links:

Home Office:  Independent review into Sharia Law launched

The UK's Sharia ''courts' - Full Fact

Sharia Law or 'One Law for All'? - Civitas

Even more of a multi-function blue light service
The Home Secretary has unveiled a programme of reform for fire & rescue services that promises to be as radical & ambitious as that delivered in policing since 2010.  Speaking at an event hosted by Reform, Theresa May praised the achievements of F&RS, whose fire prevention work has contributed to a fall in the number of fires in England of two-thirds in the last 15 years, while the number of fire deaths has almost halved during the same period.  She also outlined the scale of the challenge still facing F&RS and underlined the need for reform.
Researched Links:

Home Secretary sets out radical fire & rescue reform programme

Prevent, Protect, Respond: handling more than just fires

Fire as a health asset? Or a health necessity?

NHS & Fire Service sign new consensus to help vulnerable & reduce winter pressures

ScotGov:  Enhanced Medical Role for Fire & Rescue Service

HMIC:  Review published on how the police, fire & ambulance services work together during major incidents

LGA Responds to PAC report on Fire & Rescue Services

LGA: Collaboration & transformation - The hot topics at fire service conference

Legislation to allow Police & Crime Commissioners to take responsibility for their local fire service

NLGN warns giving Police & Crime Commissioners oversight of the Fire Service could put lives at risk

NLGN:  Fire Works - A Collaborative Way Forward for the Fire & Rescue Service

Praise for emergency service flood response

Fire & rescue policy to move to the Home Office

NAO:  Financial sustainability of fire & rescue services

LGA:  Plans to give police more control of firefighters are 'unnecessary and unhelpful', say fire chiefs

ScotGov:  Managing Automatic Fire Signals - Report

LGA:  Firefighters tackle dementia, cot deaths and childhood obesity as local authorities embrace public health responsibilities

Fire as a health asset? Or a health necessity?

Can ethics ‘win-out’ over self-interest?

The CPSL is undertaking a review of ‘Ethics for Regulators’ to explore how regulators live up to the 7 principles of public life.  The Committee will undertake a ‘health-check’ of the way in which regulators manage ethical issues in their own organisations and the extent to which the unique characteristics of regulators create or demand any specifically tailored ethical solutions.

To a starting point the Committee is asking a wide range of regulatory bodies about their ethical standards, in order to gather evidence for the next steps of the review. The Committee will publish an overview of the issues raised in the Autumn.

Researched Links:

CSPL:  Richard Thomas discusses the current review on Ethics for Regulators

Standards Matter – A Review Of Best Practice In Promoting Good Behaviour in Public Life

Let us hope that it helps repairs the damage caused by the actions of some policemen over recent years

Fertility & tissue regulators to be reviewed following consultation

techUK welcomes Government support for creation of a Data Ethics Council

Commercial governance

A New Digital Ethics

TUC calls on retailers to answer to MPs over Rana Plaza compensation

Clinical trials & medical research - Ethics committees - NHS Choices

MRC:  Regulation, ethics, governance & working with decision-makers

Olympic Pause for Thought
Public Health England (PHE) and the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) have published their advice for travellers planning to visit Brazil for the 2016 Olympic Games (5 - 21 August) and the 2016 Paralympic Games (7 - 18 September).  The advice covers a variety of health & safety topics for travellers, including information about the Zika virus outbreak in Brazil.  They currently recommend that pregnant women postpone non-essential travel to areas where there is active Zika virus transmission, until after pregnancy.

DH:  Health & travel advice for Rio 2016

Will the sun shine on your bid? 
Creative coastal entrepreneurs can now bid for a share of £90m government funding available UK-wide over the next 4 years to support their plans to reel in jobs and revitalise our much-loved seaside areas.  Since 2012, the government has invested over £120m in seaside areas through a dedicated Coastal Communities Fund.  Grants of between £50,000 and £4m are available.  Bids for the latest round in England will close on 30 June 2016.  Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland applicants should prepare bids now for when their applications will open in early July.
Researched Links:

DCMS:  £90m boost for the Great British Coast

Scenic sight restorations set to boost Great British Coast staycations

8 seaside communities receive extra funding to create jobs

Iconic coastal heritage sites set for £3 million makeover

Coastal Communities Fund promotes over 10,000 jobs, training places and apprenticeships

New coastal teams to create jobs, bring business and help local economies thrive

A ‘counter-balance’ to recent HM Treasury ‘Project Fear rants’

The share of UK exports going to fellow Single Market countries has plummeted in the past decade and is now lower than it was when Britain joined the EEC in 1973, a new Civitas analysis shows.  Since 2007, the share of the UK’s world exports going to the other 11 founder members of the Single Market has fallen from 68% to just 36% in 2015 – back to the level it was at in 1971.  Overall, the real value of British goods exports to the 11 other founder members has grown by a mere 2.5% over the 23 years of the Single Market – a compound annual growth rate of just 0.11%.

This analysis of the latest OECD trade figures demonstrates that British exports to the rest of the world have grown faster and are increasingly more important to the UK economy than those to the Single Market.

It is featured in the latest Civitas publication, The Eurosceptic’s Handbook, which is designed to arm voters with the facts they need – and which government & big business are failing to promote – to make a balanced judgement in the EU referendum.

The preceding decades ironically were ones of growth to the same nations, with the proportion of the UK goods exports going to the nations that would later form the Single Market hitting 48% in 1973. This share continued to increase rapidly over the years of Common Market membership, increasing to 64% in 1989.

The years of Single Market membership saw this proportion peak at 68% in 2004, a percentage matched again in 2007. Since then this proportion has slumped and stood at just 36% in 2015 – the same percentage as in 1971.

Researched Links:

Civitas:  EU share of UK exports is in dramatic decline, new analysis shows

The Eurosceptic’s Handbook

Civitas - The Single Market has benefited non-members more than Britain and other founding signatories

Civitas - British trade has much to gain outside the EU

Civitas - No benefit for UK trade from EU ‘collective clout’

CIVITAS - Costs of EU membership should be fully audited prior to UK renegotiation

CIVITAS - Economic benefits of large-scale immigration outweighed by strains of population growth

CIVITAS - Trade advantages of the EU are "imaginary"

CIVITAS - Devalue the pound for growth and jobs

Not every ‘expert’ thinks Brexit will be all ‘Doom & Gloom’

ASI:  Why the only way is EEA for a post Brexit Britain

ASI:  Stuck in the middle with EU - Why it’s time we cut out the middle man and become global citizens

IEA - New report debunks the EU jobs myth

The EU's dwindling importance to UK trade in three charts - Telegraph

Do half the UK's exports go to Europe? - Full Fact


 More contributions to the EU Referendum

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

Researched Links:

Vote Leave - the campaign for a Leave vote in the EU referendum

Britain Stronger In Europe

Open Europe

FIS:  Brexit could add two years to austerity

NIESR: Lower output & higher taxes - the impact of reducing immigration

PC&PE:  EU law making needs greater transparency

Civitas:  EU share of UK exports is in dramatic decline, new analysis shows

ONS:  Migration Statistics Quarterly Report

Migration Watch:  NS sub-national population projections for England

PC&PE:  Northern Ireland and the EU referendum key issues

RUSI - Northern Ireland’s Delicate Peace Process at Risk Should the UK Leave the EU

Editor’s Note:  We suggest readers monitor the ‘News’ sections of the 2 campaign sites for the 2 differing views.  The WGPlus newsletter will mainly limit itself to highlighting ‘normal’ EU-related news, plus Think Tank items, PC&PE reports, etc.


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:

Sean Brennan works in local government, a sector which often attracts a lot of derision from certain red tops. "It is inaccurate, headline-grabbing drivel that causes people to think we all earn £200k per year, drive expensive cars, work four hours a week and retire aged 30," says Brennan. "In truth, I earn £30k for a 50-hour week, drive a Toyota Aygo and cannot afford a mortgage. I’ll currently retire at 68 with an £18k pension. Bring on the gold."
In his polite rebuttal, Brennan explains the real difference he and his colleagues make.

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News in brief
• Purdah period set to silence officials on EU referendum from Friday
• Ambulance delays linked to 35 deaths in past five years
• Londoners to be sent to Canterbury after council bidding war for housing
• Birmingham children's services to be run by trust following failures
• Prisons get urgent £10m to tackle suicide and disorder
• Theresa May accuses fire and rescue services of significant failings