NICE: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has launched a consultation (closes on 15 January 2010) on its draft quality standards for the treatment of dementia & stroke; once published the new standards will represent a benchmark to inform aspirations for high quality care across the NHS.
The consultation is part of a pilot programme of work, which will include further topics on venous thromboembolism prevention & specialist neonatal care, which are due to be released as drafts in the New Year.
Press release ~ Consultation ~ NHS Quality Accounts ~ World Class Commissioning
Newswire – EA: The Environment Agency has extended the deadline for responses to its Lower Thames Strategy consultation until 18 December 2009. More than 2,000 people have attended the public exhibitions held across the Lower Thames area since October to find out what the flood plans mean to them and to make comments. Residents, groups & business owners are still being urged to register their opinions on the website.
Currently 15,000 residential properties within the Lower Thames floodplain from Datchet to Teddington are at risk of flooding from the River Thames in a 1% annual chance event. The Strategy will tackle the risk of flooding to these properties within this area - one of the areas of highest flood risk in England.
Press release ~ Lower Thames Flood Risk Management Strategy and consultation
BIS: The Business Secretary, Lord Mandelson, has opened a public consultation (closes on 24 February 2010) on new financial products & services that could be offered by the Post Office, including:
* PO Current Account
* PO Children’s Savings Account
* PO Business Bank Accounts
* weekly budgeting account
* closer link between the Post Office & credit unions
* working to ensure all banks’ current accounts can be accessed at a PO
Press release ~ PO Banking consultation ~ BIS – Post Office Network ~ NAO: BERR’s (BIS) oversight of the Post Office Network Change Programme ~ Post Office Network ~ CRC – Post Offices in Rural areas
FSA: The Food Standards Agency is consulting (closes on 9 March 2010) on its proposed recommendations to the food industry to reduce saturated fat and to increase the availability of healthier options & smaller portion sizes in savoury snacks. Many savoury snacks have been reformulated to reduce saturated fat recently, but they remain a focus because they are often high in fat & calories.
The consultation also covers the scope to amend the legislation on ice cream & Cheddar cheese.  The current Food Labelling Regulations do not allow lower-fat versions of these products (below a specified fat content level) to be labelled as ice cream or Cheddar cheese.
This is the second of 2 consultations proposing voluntary action to reduce saturated fat & calories in foods. The first, which was launched in July 2009 and closed on 3 November 2009, covered soft drinks with added sugar, chocolate confectionery & biscuits, cakes, pastries & buns.  The final recommendations from both consultations will be published next year.
Press release ~ Draft recommendations on promotion of lower-fat products, fat and saturated fat reductions for meat products, and portion size ~ Previous (closed) consultation ~ Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives strategy for England ~ ScotGov: Healthy Eating, Active Living' plan ~ WAG - Food and Fitness: Promoting Healthy Eating and Physical Activity for Children and Young People in Wales 5 Year plan ~ NI DH, Social Services & Public Safety report 'Fit Futures'
ScotGov: A pilot project which will help shape Scotland's first Marine Bill has been conducted in the Sound of Mull. A public consultation, together with drop-in sessions about the Sound of Mull Scottish Sustainable Marine Environment Initiative (SSMEI), will last until Sunday 28 February 2010 and comments received will be used to help finalise the planahead of its publication in mid 2010.
30 months in production, the draft Sound of Mull Marine Spatial Plan tackles issues such as the regulation, management & protection of the marine environment of Sound of Mull and will provide valuable information informing the design of legislation in the Scottish Marine Bill, which is currently being debated in the Scottish Parliament.
Press release ~ Sound of Mull Spatial Plan consultation (includes details of events) ~ Scottish Marine Bill ~ Sound of Mull Scottish Sustainable Marine Environment Initiative (SSMEI) ~ Sound of Mull Working Group ~ Scottish Natural Heritage
HEFCE: Students are to take a central role in new arrangements to assure the quality of higher education (HE) in universities & colleges in England & NI. A consultation (closes on Friday 5 March 2010) has been launched to inform improvements in how the education of students in HE is assured and to help address concerns about quality & standards.  It is being undertaken by Universities UK, GuildHE and the HE funding bodies for England & NI.
The proposals also ask the QAA to look closely at how standards at universities & colleges can be compared, and consider the language it uses in reporting on audit outcomes to ensure they are easily understood.  The consultation proposes a higher profile for the information that is made available to prospective students, students, parents & employers.  There will be a further consultation on this information set in 2010 when the results of the research will be known.
Press release ~ Future arrangements for quality assurance in England and Northern Ireland ~ Universities UK: Quality and Standards micro-site ~ GuildHE ~ QAA
DCMS: The public library service in England needs radical transformation & modernisation if it is to remain as relevant & popular in the 21st century as it was in the 19th & 20th centuries, Culture Minister, Margaret Hodge, claimed when publishing a consultation paper (closes on 26 January 2010) that pinpoints the big challenges facing the service.
The consultation paper includes 30 essays offering different views of what the important issues are. It also poses a series of questions upon which the DCMS seeks views from as wide a range of people as possible, including the library & publishing community.
Press release ~ Empower, Inform Enrich – The modernisation review of public libraries ~ Related press release ~ Archives for the 21st Century ~ Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) ~ CyMAL (Museums and Libraries Wales) ~ GILIL toolkit ~ Library support ~ Wirral inquiry ~ DCMS – Wirral inquiry ~ Culture24 – Museums at Night ~ The Role of Museums, Libraries and Archives and Local Area Agreements ~ MLA Regional Field Team ~ MLA Research ~ MLA - Local government ~ Related MLA press release
BIS: Consumer Minister, Kevin Brennan, has launched a public consultation (closes on 5 March 2010) on the role & powers that will be given to a new champion of consumer rights, the ‘Consumer Advocate’, who will be tasked with ensuring UK consumers get a fairer deal in the future. 
The Government announced plans to appoint a Consumer Advocate earlier this year as part of the White Paper - A Better Deal for Consumers: Delivering Real Help Now and Change for the Future – which set out a package of measures designed to get consumers a better deal in the downturn and strengthen their consumer rights. The Government wants the first Consumer Advocate to also act as Chair of Consumer Focus.
Press release ~ Consultation on the role and powers of the Consumer Advocate ~ A Better Deal for Consumers: Delivering Real Help Now and Change for the Future ~ Consumer Focus
WAG: Regarding the launch of a consultation on charging for inter-country adoption, Children’s Minister Delyth Morgan said: “We’ve been working hard to improve the adoption service we offer families to make sure it is as straightforward and easy to use as possible.  We are now in a position to guarantee cases will be dealt with in 14 weeks.
To ensure we continue to provide a high quality service, we think it is fair to begin charging, on a means-tested basis, for parents wanting to adopt a child from abroad.  I look forward to hearing the views of our key stakeholders on this issue as part of the consultation process”.
The consultation is a limited one and finishes on 15 January 2010.  A stakeholder workshop will be held on 11 January 2010 at DCSF, Sanctuary Buildings in London.  DCSF are keen to hear your views and if you are interested in participating, please contact Nayeer Afzal & send completed forms to:
Press release ~ DCSF: Intercountry adoptions ~ Consultation
LBRO: Last week saw the launch of a consultation paper (closes on 23 February 2010) on the first set of national enforcement priorities (NEPs) for Wales, prepared by the Local Better Regulation Office (LBRO) for the Welsh Assembly Government. This consultation paper presents 4 draft NEPs for Welsh local regulatory services (environmental health, trading standards, licensing and fire safety):
* reducing harm to individuals by promoting health improvement
* ensuring the safety and quality of the food chain to minimise risk to human & animal health
* promoting a fair and just trading environment for citizens & business
* improving the local environment to positively influence quality of life & promote sustainability
The draft national enforcement priorities are intended to reflect the fundamental principles of One Wales - accountable, citizen-centred public services.  They seek to address the regulatory risks & threats faced by citizens in Wales, by setting out the outcomes that local authorities strive to deliver, working with other councils, partner agencies, citizens and business.
Press release ~ Consultation on National Enforcement Priorities for Wales ~ LRBO
ECGD: ECGD (Export Credits Guarantee Department), the UK export credit agency, has launched a public consultation (closes on 3 March 2010) on proposals to revise its Business Principles. Developments since the Business Principles were introduced in 2000 have made them increasingly outdated.  
These include the adoption by the OECD of agreements which cover anti-bribery measures, sustainable lending and the environmental & social impacts of exports supported by member export credit agencies, as well as the introduction of information legislation (Freedom of Information Act & Environmental Information Regulations) and the Government code of conduct on public consultations.
The proposed Principles are focussed on three key areas: serving exporters, ethical considerations and disclosure & consultation.  The Government also proposes that, in future, ECGD will only operate ethical policies which are consistent with the relevant OECD agreements, which have been agreed multilaterally in the OECD.  New guidelines will be published (following the consultation) that will assist exporters to explain how ECGD decides to support exports.
Press release ~ Consultation on Proposed Revisions to ECGD’s Business Principles and Ancillary Policies ~ ECGD
DCSF: Children’s Minister, Dawn Primarolo, has  moved closer to a complete ban on regulation for childcare arrangements between friends where no money changes hands.  A consultation (closes on 31 January 2010) on the planned changes to the Childcare Order 2008 has been put to early years professionals, charities & families.  The amendment aims to strike a balance between informal arrangements and professional childminders, to give families the freedom to choose from the range of childcare options available to them.
Press release  ~ Exemption of childcare arrangements between friends that are not for monetary payment from registration under the Childcare Act 2006
WAG: New plans to improve care to adults that have suffered sexual assault or abuse have been announced for consultation (closes on 24 February 2010) by Health Minister, Edwina Hart.  Care for victims will be rolled out through Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) – where specialist staff are trained to counsel victims and where police & other health practitioners can refer victims for examination, screening & treatment. The proposals aim to provide more timely, appropriate and co-ordinated care.
Press release ~ Draft Service Specification for services providing care to adults in Wales who have been sexually assaulted or abused ~ All Wales Domestic Abuse strategy ~ WAG - Domestic abuse ~ Domestic Abuse Guidance: Supporting People & Multi-Agency Working ~ Wales Domestic Abuse Helpline ~ Welsh Women’s Aid
FSA: The Food Standards Agency is seeking views (by 11 March 2010) on how a voluntary scheme to display calorie information on menus would work best in practice. A calorie labelling scheme would help people make healthier choices when they are eating out, by letting them see the number of calories in the food & drink they order – whether they are in restaurants, coffee & sandwich shops, pubs, leisure attractions or staff restaurants.  The Agency will collate responses & publish details of a final scheme in spring 2010.
The consultation is based on an evaluation of calorie information that was introduced in 21 food companies during the summer.  The evaluation looked at the cost for businesses and practical issues of providing calorie labelling.  It also considered how consumers use & understand this information. Any problems encountered by the food businesses when setting up the schemes were overcome relatively easily.
Press release ~ Calories on menus one step closer ~ Evaluation of calorie information provided in catering outlets ~  Provision of calorie labelling at point of choice in catering outlets 
CLG: Local people will be able to demand their councils to take action on under-performing schools & hospitals, alcohol disorder, anti-social behaviour and other concerns under new proposals to give ‘real teeth’ to local petitions, Communities Secretary, John Denham, has claimed.
Councils will be expected to respond to petitions and tell residents what action is going to be taken to address their concerns.  No council will be able to ignore a petition or leave it on the shelf because it raises a difficult or challenging issue in the local area.  New guidance (published for consultation - closes on 24 February 2010) sets out how councils should respond to all petitions.
Press release ~ Guidance on petitions consultation
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