Policy Statements and Initiatives

DH: The physical environment in which the NHS cares for thousands of dying patients is to be transformed as a result of a new £1m programme funded by the Department of Health, led by the King's Fund. Nurse-led teams in 19 NHS Trusts and one prison will work to improve facilities to care for patients at the end of life, the bereaved and the front-line staff who care for them.
The wide range of projects will include; new palliative care beds, improvements to facilities for families & visitors, dedicated bereavement suites and refurbished mortuary viewing facilities. This announcement comes ahead of the government's End of Life Care strategy to be launched later this year, which will hopefully give people greater choice and improved care at the end of their life.
This is the latest phase of the King's Fund's Enhancing the Healing Environment programme and follows a pilot scheme in eight sites on end of life care that was completed earlier this year.
The nurse-led teams will be aided by a new report, published on 24 April by the King's Fund, which both celebrates the success of the pilot programme and explores the impact that improving environments can have on those who receive care or work in end of life care.  The publication includes a literature review, the results of a concurrent action research programme, and the outcome of a key stakeholder workshop.
Press release ~ Improving Environments for Care at End of Life ~ Improving environments for care at the end of life: lessons from eight UK pilot sites ~ Improving Choice at End of Life ~ King's Fund's Enhancing the Healing Environment programme
ScotGov: Young people with visual impairments, or other print disabilities, in Scotland will have access to the best educational material available from next term. From August 2008, they will be able to use the Scottish Books for All database powered by SCRAN, one of the largest educational online services, to access learning materials.

The database will contain a list of adapted materials which teachers can access to ensure that all pupils with additional support needs receive curriculum materials at the same time as their classmates in a format that meets their needs.

Until recently the Schools copyright license only allowed materials to be adapted for those with visual impairment or physical impairment but, from April 2008, the Copyright Licensing Agency agreed to extend the license to cover those who are visually impaired or otherwise disabled which is a much wider definition.

The Education (Disability Strategies and Pupils' Educational Records) (Scotland) Act 2002 requires that all disabled pupils are able to access the curriculum and that includes ensuring that they have access to accessible curriculum materials.
Press release ~ ScotGov – Education and training ~ Scottish Books for All database ~ Books for all ~ RNIB Scotland ~ Communication Aids for Language and Learning (CALL) ~ GLOW ~ Learning and Teaching Scotland ~ Education (Disability Strategies and Pupils' Educational Records) (Scotland) Act 2002
ScotGov: Minister for Environment Michael Russell has congratulated the Committee of Inquiry on Crofting for the 'radical approach' it has taken in outlining its vision for the future of crofting in 21st century Scotland.

The committee's recommendations include:
* Abolition of the Crofters' Commission and the creation of a new Federation of Local Crofting Boards
* All croft houses are tied to residency
* All sub-lets and tenancies should be approved by the Local Crofting Boards
* Registers of Scotland should be responsible for maintaining the register of crofts
* Reviewing agricultural subsidies including Single Farm Payment, the Less Favoured Area Support Scheme and the Crofting Countries Agricultural Grant Scheme
Press release ~ Final report ~ Crofter's Commission ~ Committee of Inquiry on Crofting ~ Registers of Scotland ~ Consultation on Designation of New Areas for Crofting ~ ScotGov – Crofting ~ Scottish Crofting Foundation
WAG: Deputy First Minister, Ieuan Wyn Jones, has announced the extension of the free rail travel scheme to cover new areas of Wales.  Changes to the concessionary fares rail pilot scheme include:
* An extension to cover the Cambrian Coast railway in the winter.
* The Welsh section of the Wrexham – Bidston scheme from 18 May (Flintshire & Wrexham passholders)
* Free travel Oct. to April between Machynlleth & Pwllhelli (restrictions on school trains) - Gwynedd passholders
* Heart of Wales pilot will be extended for a further year - providing free travel only between October to April
* The Conwy Valley scheme will continue to operate all year.
Press release ~ WAG - Transport ~ WAG – Business & Economy ~ WAG: One Wales: A progressive agenda for the government of Wales
ScotGov: A five point action plan to help the Scottish fishing industry counter the effects of rising fuel costs has been announced following a recent meeting with the Scottish Fishermen's Federation in Aberdeen. Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead announced that the Scottish Government would:
* establish a Task Force to bring forward steps to help the industry
* seek a meeting with the UK Government to discuss wider issues of the impact of fuel prices
* continue to press the European Union to ensure a level playing field on subsidies
* work with the industry to develop a fuel efficiency scheme (available from early September)
* give immediate help to offset fuel costs, including £400k for the annual maintenance costs of life rafts on every vessel in Scotland and £300k for the cost of the warranties vessels must pay on their satellite monitoring equipment
Press release ~ Scottish Fishermen's Federation ~ Scottish Fisheries Council ~ ScotGov - Fisheries
DfT: Passengers on rural and regional rail services across the country are set to benefit from a £60,000 fund for Community Rail Partnerships. The Designated Community Rail Development Fund will help deliver improvements at local stations, such as more seats, cycle parking and better information for passengers.  It can also help fund awareness campaigns to encourage more people to use these lines.
Press release ~ Association of Community Rail Partnerships (ACoRP) ~ Community Rail Development Strategy Review
BERR: Business Secretary John Hutton accepted the recommendations made by Imelda Walsh, the HR director of Sainsbury's, to extend the right to request flexible working to parents of children up to age 16.  The government will now consult on implementing the proposals.
Flexible working arrangements include working from home, part-time work, compressed hours, flexi-time or other arrangements agreed with employers.  These arrangements allow for people to grow their careers and remain in the workforce. 91% of workplaces who received requests in the last year approved them all and BERR's Third Work-Life Balance Survey of employers shows they largely have positive views about promoting work-life balance.
Press release ~ Right to request flexible working: a review of how to extend the right to request flexible working to parents of older children ~ BERR - Flexible Working ~ Acas – Flexible working ~ 2007 Work-Life Balance Employer Survey ~ Flexible working and work-life balance: an introduction : Directgov ~ Benefits of flexible working - Business Link ~ CIPD - Flexible working ~ Employees working from home - Business Link ~ TUC - Work-Life Balance ~ Working Families ~ Work and Families Act 2006 ~ TUC Changing Times website
WAG: Welsh Assembly Government Heritage Minister, Rhodri Glyn Thomas, has launched Libraries for Life: Delivering a Modern Library Service for Wales, a three year plan for Welsh libraries. The Assembly Government will be investing £10.5m over the next three years to help deliver the programme, which includes increased funding to modernise facilities in over 20% of public libraries open 10 hours or more a week by 2011.

Another online service being developed by the National Library of Wales is the virtual library www.library.wales.org, , which has information about your local library and library events and access to online newspapers and reference books available free to library members.
Press release ~ Libraries for Life: Delivering a Modern Library Service for Wales ~ WAG – Museums, Archives and Libraries ~ National Library of Wales
2020 Vulnerability Roundtables