Policy Statements and Initiatives

ScotGov: Online scanning to allow remote diagnosis for island patients and Scotland's biggest telehealth system are among a raft of hi-tech projects to help more patients be treated quicker & closer to home. eHealth investment totalling £1.6m - including funding from the NHS's major IT contractor – has been announced by Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon.
 
Projects extending the use of electronic technology in the NHS include:
* Touch screens in the homes of hundreds of patients with chronic conditions in Lothian, allowing them to be monitored from home
* Online scanning allowing patients in Orkney to be diagnosed remotely, avoiding lengthy trips to hospital
* New software in Glasgow transmitting patients' records directly to consulting rooms
Press release ~ ScotGov - NHSScotland ~ eHealth ~ All Our Futures: Planning for a Scotland with an Ageing Population – Summary and Action Plan ~ All Our Futures – Volume Two ~ Closed consultation document ~ Sharing Experience - Scotland's Ageing Population ~ Scottish Executive – Older people ~ Future Forum: 'Growing Older and Wiser Together: A Futures View on Positive Ageing' ~ Telecare – JIT (Joint Improvement Team) ~ Telecare-related links
 
HO: 120 children were safely returned to their homes after being found unsupervised on the streets late on one recent Friday night. Police & Children's Services in 27 areas of England were running Operation Staysafe patrols as part of a co-ordinated effort to protect vulnerable children and to reassure the public that they are dealing with issues of local concern.
 
The operation identifies young people who are out late at night and at risk of becoming a victim of crime or being drawn into criminal behaviour, and takes them to a place of safety.  They are then returned to their parents, carers or guardians and follow up actions may then be put in place by the authorities to stop problem behaviour from recurring.
 
Operation Staysafe is part of the £100m cross government Youth Crime Action Plan launched in July 2008.  It originated in Merseyside as part of Merseyside Police's approach to tackling & preventing youth crime in the city.
Press release ~ Youth Crime Action Plan ~ Video of Operation Staysafe
 
WAG: During the next 6 years the Welsh Assembly Government will spend nearly £20m (including European Regional Development Fund monies) on a new digital inclusion programme to provide community groups, social enterprises and individuals with support to use technologies.
 
WAG will also establish a Digital Inclusion Unit, which will take forward policy development, and will co-ordinate and mainstream digital inclusion activity, as well as oversee the delivery of the programme, named Communities 2.0, which is intended tobuild on WAG’s highly successful Communities @One initiative.
Press release ~ Communities @One initiative ~ WAG – ICT ~ dotCYM cyf
 
ScotGov: The UK Government has been urged to reduce the drink driving limit to reduce accidents on Scotland's roads. In a letter to the UK Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said that changing the law would have widespread public backing and would send a clear message that drinking & driving is a potentially lethal concoction.
Press release ~ Scottish Parliament – Drink Driving ~ ScotGov - Alcohol ~ Drinking and Driving 2007: Prevalence, Decision Making and Attitudes ~ Road Safety Scotland - Publicity - Drink Driving ~ Drink Drive Rehabilitation Courses ~ Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS)
 
WAG: Six proposed demonstration projects across Wales have been given Communities First funding of £1.5m over the next three years as part of the new Communities First Outcomes Fund.  The fund provides money to develop & deliver new activities, services and projects for the benefit of Communities First Communities.
 
The Outcomes Fund, which will be in place from 1 April 2009, is structured to support activities which deliver real improvements at local level in terms of tackling key priorities for Communities First such as child poverty, economic inactivity and job creation.
Press release ~ Communities First ~ WAG - Community regeneration and development
 
WAG: Over 1,000 farmers have contacted Farming Connect to register since Elin Jones, Minister for Rural Affairs, launched the Welsh Assembly Government’s new revised range of Farming Connect services last July, but many more could be missing out because they have failed to re-register for the service.
 
Of the 1,000 farm and forestry business owners wanting to sign up, 85% are seeking assistance to identify their future business needs and 80% are interested in training.  Farmers who registered for the original service are being urged to re-register as soon as possible in order not to hold up accessing the practical elements of the new programme, which include one-to-one support, guidance and skills development or training.  
 
Many of the services now available are fully funded, while others such as the Whole Farm Plan and Farm Advisory Service - which helps farmers meet cross compliance - are subsidised, by 50% for most eligible farmers and 80% for young entrants.  
Press release ~ WAG - Farming Connect ~ Agrisgôp
 
ScotGov: Public Health Minister, Shona Robison, has announced an extension to the transition fund set up last year, to help keep Healthy Living centres running as they put in place sustainable plans for long-term funding. Up to £70,000 will be provided per Centre for 2009-2010.
 
This will ensure that those with good prospects of securing long-term sustainable funding - but affected by shortfalls following the end of their Big Lottery Funding - will continue to have lifeline funding during the critical transition period.
 
The aim of Healthy Living Centres is to promote good health and reduce health inequalities in Scotland's most disadvantaged communities.  They were established with £34.5m from the New Opportunities Fund (now the Big Lottery Fund) between 1999 and 2002.
Press release ~ Scottish Healthy Living Centre Alliance ~ Healthy Living Centres ~ Health Scotland.com
 
WAG: The Welsh Assembly Government has unveiled a new plan to make the Wales healthier & greener.  The 4-year blueprint aims to get more people to walk & cycle safely as part of their daily lives.  It brings together a range of key initiatives and policies with the sole objective of getting more people, both young and old, to walk and cycle more.
 
Deputy First Minister, Ieuan Wyn Jones, said: “More walking and biking in Wales is a win-win situation on all fronts.  It will ease congestion, lower emissions and address growing obesity levels.  If levels of activity increase we will have a healthier nation.  Surveys show that 57% of adults in Wales are either overweight or obese.  We can transform this through making changes to our daily lives”.
Press release ~ Walking and Cycling Action Plan 2009 – 2013 ~ Sustrans Cymru
 
WAG: A new £7m Convergence initiative to prevent thousands of disadvantaged youngsters from dropping out of school and becoming economically inactive across the Heads of the Valleys has been announced by Deputy Minister for Skills, John Griffiths.
 
Pre-VENT (NEET) has been given the go ahead for almost £4m from the Convergence European Social Fund to tackle the causes of youngsters who find it difficult to learn and are at risk of leaving school without qualifications or the skills to find a job.
 
Led by Blaenau Gwent, the project will collaborate with Bridgend, Caerphilly, Merthyr Tydfil and Torfaen councils, alongside Careers Wales, to raise aspirations and tackle the barriers to learning faced by some youngsters.
Press release ~ WAG – Education and Skills ~ Convergence initiative ~ Blaenau Gwent ~ Careers Wales ~ Heads of the Valleys Programme ~ Heads of the Valley Innovation Programme
 
DefraBirds of prey and a near-extinct shellfish are among the animals earmarked for top priority in a strengthened fight against wildlife crime in the coming year. The freshwater pearl mussel, once widespread throughout Europe, is now extremely rare and outside of Britain & Ireland is found in less than 50 rivers worldwide, while and birds of prey such as hen harriers are under threat from nest destruction and deliberate killing.
 
Wildlife Minister, Huw Irranca-Davies, set out the government's wildlife crime priorities for 2009-2010, including poaching, crimes against bats & the illegal trade in endangered species, and urged people to help combat the criminals.
Press release ~ National Wildlife Crime Unit ~ Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW) ~ Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking (CAWT)
 
ScotGov: Cracking down on underage and illegal cigarette sales is the aim of a partnership scheme launched last week. The Enhanced Tobacco Sales Enforcement Programme will see the Scottish Government, Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs and Trading Standards officers throughout Scotland working together to tackle the problem.
 
The scheme has two main aims:
* stepping up enforcement of tobacco sales law to prevent underage cigarette sales
* stemming the flow of smuggled or counterfeit cigarettes
Press release ~ Scotland's Future is Smoke Free: A Smoking Prevention Action Plan ~ ScotGov - Tobacco
 
ScotGov: An inflatable pool filled with enough custard to make 875 trifles, one Cabinet Secretary for Education & Lifelong Learning, a Chief Scientific Adviser and a group of enthusiastic youngsters gathered in Edinburgh today to send out the message: ‘Do something creative; do science’.
 
A new advertising campaign launched by the Scottish Government aims to show young people that science can be rewarding to study and can open the doors to many careers, from sports medicine to fashion design. To prove that science can be fun, pupils from TrinityAcademy, in Edinburgh, demonstrated a messy experiment when they took turns to demonstrate the non-Newtonian nature of custard - or rather run across a pool of custard without sinking.
Press release ~ 2007 Scottish Survey of Achievement in Science ~ 2008 HMIE report:  Science - A portrait of current practice in Scottish Schools (scroll down to 04/11/2008) ~ Science for Scotland framework ~ Scottish Science Baccalaureate ~ Choose Science
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