General News

FSADivine Chocolate has withdrawn some of its Divine Dark Chocolate because the product contains milk, which is not an intended ingredient.  Although the allergy advice on the product label mentions that the product ‘may contain traces of milk’, the amount of milk is above what might be described as 'trace levels'.  The Food Standards Agency has issued an Allergy Alert.  The product is a possible health risk for anyone who is allergic to or intolerant of milk.  
Press release ~ Divine Chocolate Ltd withdraws two batch codes of Divine Dark Chocolate due to cross-contamination with milk  ~ Allergy UK ~ Anaphylaxis Campaign ~ Divine Chocolate
FSAMorrisons has recalled its Value Seedless Raisins (500g) with 'best before' dates of October 2010, November 2010 and December 2010, because the product might contain small pieces of green plastic.  The Food Standards Agency has issued a Food Alert for Information. Morrisons has recalled the affected product and has issued point-of-sale notices in stores.  These notices tell customers why the product has been recalled. If you have bought these raisins, you can return it to the store for a full refund.
Press release ~ Morrisons recalls its own-brand Value Seedless Raisins due to the potential presence of small pieces of green plastic ~ Morrisons
DH: Statistics show people in England will use the NHS an average of 2,153 times during their lifetime, the equivalent of once a fortnight.  And with individuals having so many NHS experiences, the 150 Local Involvement Networks (LINks) around England are urging people to have their say in shaping existing & future health & social care services.
LINks aim to give people a stronger voice on how their health & social care services are delivered.  Run by individuals & community groups and independently supported, the role of a LINk is to find out what people want, monitor local services and to use their powers to hold them to account.  A LINk exists in every local authority area.
Press release ~ Local Involvement Networks (LINks)
ScotGov: Scotland's largest brewer, Tennent's, has backed the Scottish Government's proposal for minimum pricing for alcohol. The support from Tennent's adds to a 'growing consensus' of opinion in favour of minimum pricing, including the 4 Chief Medical Officers of the UK, the BMA, the Royal Colleges, all 17 directors of public health in NHS Scotland, the House of Commons Health Select Committee, the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS) and the Scottish Licensed Trade Association.
Recent alcohol industry sales figures suggest Scots are drinking an average 25% more alcohol per head of population that the English & Welsh.  The 50.5m litres of pure alcohol sold in 2009 were enough for every person over the age of 18 to exceed the weekly alcohol guidelines for men, every week of the year.
A survey of supermarket alcohol prices shows that minimum pricing would target cheap, high strength white ciders, lagers and low-grade spirits, while leaving responsibly-priced products untouched.
Press release ~ Alcohol (Scotland) Bill ~ Measures to tackle alcohol misuse ~ Minimum pricing ~ Sheffield University report on minimum pricing ~ Commons Health Committee Report on AlcoholAlcohol attributable mortality and morbidity
HO: Young people aged 16 to 24 who live in London will be able to apply for a National Identity Card from 8 February 2010, it has been announced. The £30 identity card is claimed to provide a secure & convenient way for people to prove their identity whether they are travelling in Europe - the cards can also be used in place of a passport for travel throughout Europe - or buying age-restricted goods.
Research by the Identity & Passport Service shows that over half of lost & stolen passports belong to people under 30 and 10% of those are lost by people using them as ID on a night out.  As an ID card fits snugly into a wallet, it should help avoid the card becoming lost.
Also from next month until 30 June 2010, people across the UK who have registered an interest through the Directgov website will be able to apply for a card.  More than 16,000 people have already registered an interest in getting an identity card in this way.
Press release ~ Directgov: Introducing Identity Cards ~ Business Link: UK Identity cards ~ Register your interest in identity cards and the National Identity Service
Newswire – AC: The Audit Commission has informed the Mayor and Acting Chief Executive of Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council that they will carry out a corporate governance inspection of the council.  This decision has been taken in the light of serious concerns about the Council’s performance in the last 2 years and the threat to public confidence caused by recent events. The Audit Commission will not be making any further statements on this work until the inspection report is published.
Press release ~ Notes on Corporate Governance Inspections
ACEArts Council England has announced the appointment of 152 people to write assessments on the artistic work of its regularly funded organisations. The new assessors will report on the full range of artforms – music, literature, dance, visual arts, theatre & combined arts – including specialisms such as work for children & young people, culturally specific arts and disability-led arts.  They will begin reporting from February 2010.
Artistic assessments will feed into the Arts Council’s ongoing artistic evaluation of regularly funded organisations, providing a basis for discussions about artistic quality and a broad evidence base to inform the Arts Council's funding decisions.  The assessments will be shared with the arts organisations and may provide a useful context for organisations’ own conversations about artistic quality.
Press release ~ ACE: Artistic Assessment
MoDMembers of the Armed Forces looking to buy their own home could benefit from a new home ownership scheme launched by the MOD and DCLG. Under the pilot scheme, the Government will provide members of the Armed Forces with up to 50% of a property’s value.  Unlike similar schemes, personnel will be allowed to purchase properties anywhere in England through a single service provider, in order to meet the needs of the Armed Forces’ mobile workforce.
In addition, applicants can sub-let their properties and will not normally pay any fees on the equity while they remain serving members of the Armed Forces.  Regular members of the Armed Forces who have served between 4 to 6 years and could not otherwise afford to get their foot on the ladder will be eligible to apply.  Swaythling Housing Society has set up a new website for the scheme, which includes further information and details of how to apply.
Press release ~ Swaythling Housing Society: Armed Forces Home Ownership Scheme website
DH: Over 3,000 doctors will test out a new system of strengthened appraisal that will hopefully improve the quality & safety of patient care, Health Secretary Andy Burnham has announced. The doctors will take part in 10 revalidation pilot studies across England and will be the first to try out a process, which will provide assurance on whether they are up to date with medical advances and fit to practice.
The pilot studies are a key stage towards the introduction of a new system in which all doctors practicing in the UK will need to have their licences revalidated by the General Medical Council every 5 years. The pilots will begin in January 2010 and run through to 31 March 2011.  There will then be the first testing of the full process some time in late 2011 / early 2012.

In Spring 2010, the GMC will be launching a public consultation on a range of revalidation issues including the standards that doctors will be expected to meet.  These standards have been drawn up by the Medical Royal Colleges and relate to the separate specialties that doctors work in, as well as to general practice.
Press release ~ Good Medical Practice: Teaching and training, appraising and assessing ~ Medical Revalidation - Principles and Next Steps ~ Consultation (closed) on the introduction of Responsible officers ~ Good doctors, safer patients ~ White Paper 'Trust, assurance and safety: the regulation of health professionals' ~ DH - Professional regulation ~ DH - Responsible officer
MoJ: Plans for a new prison on the site of the former RunwellHospital (taking a mixture of both Category B & Category C prisoners) have been submitted to Chelmsford Borough Council by the Ministry of Justice. The proposed 1,500-place prison (run by a private sector company) at Runwell should create more than 800 new jobs and generate approximately £17.1m in annual revenue for the local economy if it gets the go-ahead.  
Now the outline application has been submitted, once the council has validated it, the application & supporting documents will be made available for the public to see at the CBC website and the MoJ will provide a link to this information on their website. There is a statutory 16-week determination period, during which, CBC will consult residents and other interested parties on the prison proposal.
Press release ~ Information about new prison in Runwell, Essex ~ Views previously sought on site for new prison ~ MoJ: Prisons ~ Chelmsford Borough Council ~ HM Prison Service
LR: Farmers can find out how straightforward it is to secure their land ownership when they visit the Agricultural Machinery and Equipment Show (Showering Pavilion) at the Royal Bath and West Showground on 3 February 2010. As part of Land Registry's 2010 campaign, representatives from Land Registry's specialist team will attend the Show to discuss the benefits of voluntary land registration and how they can help farmers through the process, which in most cases is quite straightforward.
Land Registry is encouraging landowners to voluntarily register their land, to help secure & protect what they own.  There is currently a discount of up to 25% on the full cost of first registration for applications lodged voluntarily.
Press release ~ Agricultural Machinery and Equipment Show ~ LR: Register your land
MLA: The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) and the National Literacy Trust are launching a commission to examine the future of school library provision in England, which will assess the role of the school library in the 21st century school.  The final report (due June 2010) will provide ‘an informed & proactive vision for the future of school libraries and their role in supporting learning outcomes’.
Between 1997 & 2007 pupils supported by schools library service provision dropped from 82% to 66%.  An evidence-based examination of the role of the school library in the new education landscape is urgently required, as is a fresh & imaginative approach to redefining the role of the school library.
Press release ~ Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) ~ National Literacy Trust ~ Boys into books ~ Best school libraries ~ School age children
DWP: The UK will officially recognise Workers Memorial Day to commemorate thousands of people who have died, been seriously injured or made ill through their work. This follows the Government’s consultation in July to explore options for official recognition of the day, which gained widespread support.
This year, the UK will join the many other countries around the world that officially recognise the Day on 28 April 2010, the International Day of Action for Safety and Health at Work.  Formal recognition will hopefully reinforce the significance of the Day and raise awareness of the number of people who are killed, disabled, injured or made unwell through their work.
Press release ~ ILO International Day of Action for Safety and Health at Work ~ The Government’s response to proposals for the official recognition of Workers Memorial Day
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