Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Marie Stopes Pregnancy Termination Services Restricted by CQC

Following CQC inspections of Marie Stopes International’s services in England termination procedures have been suspended.

The CQC inspected the organisation’s headquarters during July, and their call centre in the 2nd week of August this year. As a result of their findings (due to be reported on in full in the Autumn) Marie Stopes International has already agreed to:

  • Suspended termination of pregnancy provision for under-18s and vulnerable groups of women.
  • Suspended terminations under general anaesthetic or conscious sedation.
  • Suspended all surgical terminations at their Norwich centre.
The CQC has told Marie Stopes International that these restrictions must remain in place until the CQC has been assured that appropriate systems are in place to care for all Marie Stopes patients safely.

The concerns raised by inspectors relate to poor governance arrangements and a lack of assurance in MSI, in areas including consent and safeguarding and the lack of assurance in relation to training and competence in conscious sedation and general anaesthesia. The CQC is unable to release further information at this stage due to the regulatory process, but they have stressed that details of concerns raised will be included in full in its inspection report, due for release in the Autumn.

Professor Edward Baker, Deputy Chief Inspector of Hospitals at the Care Quality Commission, said: "Given the nature of the concerns we identified on our inspections, it is right that Marie Stopes International has suspended a number of its services.

"At all times, our priority is to ensure that patients get safe, high-quality and compassionate care. We believe that the action taken is appropriate to address our concerns.

"We will continue to monitor these services very closely and we will not hesitate to take further action, if needed.

"We will report fully and publicly on our inspection findings as soon as our regulatory process has concluded and we are able to do so."

In response to the issues identified by the CQC and the actions taken by Marie Stopes International, NHS England has activated contingency arrangements to ensure that all patients seeking the services that are currently suspended receive safe and high-quality care.

This will mean diverting around 250 women a week to other providers and it has established a confidential helpline service for those with concerns and questions. This number is 0300 123 1041 (9am to 5pm at the weekends and 9am to 8pm during the week). In Ireland the number to call is 1800 882 677.

The Government has also informed Marie Stopes International that Ministers will not give approval for further clinics – in accordance with their statutory role – to offer termination services until the CQC are satisfied that their concerns have been fully addressed.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

GP Surgery Fined For Failing to Protect Patient Data

A GP practice that revealed confidential details about a woman and her family to her estranged ex-partner has been fined £40,000 by the Information Commissioner.

Regal Chambers, in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, gave out the information despite express warnings from the woman that staff should take particular care to protect her details.

The information was provided after the ex-partner made a request for the medical records of the former couple’s son. Staff at the GP practice responded with 62 pages of information that included the woman’s contact details as well as those of her parents and an older child the man was not related to.

An ICO investigation found that the GP practice had insufficient systems in place to guard against releasing unauthorised personal data to people who were not entitled to see it. This was a breach of the Data Protection Act.

Steve Eckersley, the ICO’s Head of Enforcement, said “Most people would be horrified to think the information they entrust to their GP was being treated with anything less than the utmost care. In this case a patient reinforced this, however her pleas went unheeded. There is no doubt that releasing this information would have caused great distress to the woman, her children and the rest of her family.”

The ICO’s investigation found staff did not receive adequate guidance or supervision about what could be disclosed or should be withheld. Mr Eckersley said “It was unfair to expect this person [member of staff] to deal with the potentially devastating fall-out created by sharing personal data wrongly. GPs could have protected staff by providing proper support, training and guidance. They did not do this.”

The ICO issued a fine of £40,000 for which the practice’s partners are individually liable.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Clearing - A Legitimate Route into Higher Education

A record 64,300 students found university places through Clearing last year, representing one in eight people accepted onto full-time university courses. Of these, more people than ever (15,000) entered higher education by applying directly through Clearing after the 30 June deadline.

The days of Clearing being the bargain basement of university admissions are now long gone. Helen Thorne, UCAS’ Director of External Relations, gives her reasons why.
  • A UCAS survey last year showed that 92 per cent of students starting courses they discovered in Clearing said they were confident they’d made the right choice. Three quarters said their experience of the Clearing process was either great or good.
  • Over 30,000 courses were listed as having vacancies on the UCAS website when Clearing opened last summer – from law to zoology.
  • Most universities now recruit students through Clearing for some of their courses, including those with the highest entry requirements.
  • Two thirds of 18 year old applicants from the UK are accepted by their first ‘firm’ choice – of the rest, just over half still get a university place; roughly half of these through their insurance choice, and half through Clearing.
  • Close to half of those using Clearing will be placed by the Monday after A level results day. The system works efficiently – with no cap on numbers in the majority of HE courses in England, and a falling population of young people, universities are very keen to recruit suitably qualified students.
You can sign in to UCAS’s Undergraduate Track from 08:00 on 18 August to see if your university place has been confirmed.

The UCAS website has all the information and advice you need to find out about the Clearing process.

For advice on the full range of options after getting your results, speak to a dedicated careers adviser on the Exam Results Helpline by calling 0808 100 8000.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

App Technology Used to Improve Nursing Home Care


Nightingale House in South London has developed an app for staff to use when updating patients’ records, reducing the number of hours spent filling in forms, keeping staff updated in real time and freeing them up to concentrate on providing direct care.

Nursing homes have been something of a forgotten entity in a world increasingly managed by apps, tablets and smartphones. Staff are required to fill in endless forms to ensure patient care standards are maintained and risks are managed. Whilst the need for records is clear, form filling is rarely the reason people opt for a career in this sector and many find the admin demoralising.
At Nightingale House they have embraced technology in a bid get the balance between robust record keeping and direct patient care. They started by collecting information about each resident’s life history and making this information available electronically, increasing the sharing of knowledge amongst staff. They worked with Cass Business School and digital product company ustwo to develop a mobile app that would allow staff to capture information digitally whilst with patients, increasing patient face time.

The new app, Keepsake, is based on algorithms which use language recognition to categorise the notes being made as positive or negative and to prompt staff members about what they should do next. If a fall is recorded, the app prompts the member of staff to complete an accident form and consider medical treatment etc.. The system acts not only as a tool for recording activity, but as a reminder of good practice and standards expected to be met, and it even co-ordinates with each patient’s care plan.

The intuitive design starts with a home page, with categories for what can be recorded about each resident: nutrition, activities, hydration, and in the future will also include sections for hygiene, medicine, sleep, life history.

Talking to The Guardian, Samsam Abshir, a registered nurse at Nightingale, said “It was so simple and easy, you can sit down with a resident, take part in the activity and also record at the same time. I feel like that was easier for me than sitting down and filling out all this paper.” Ancy Raju, an assistant practitioner, found that she could engage with residents and keep records by taking pictures of the activities they were doing.

Staff found it quicker to complete recording tasks electronically, rather than having to go to the office, remember the details, find the right file and handwrite records, and residents’ families could be updated more easily, by sending newsletters based on the reports and photos taken throughout the week.

Anne Smith, whose mother has dementia and lives in Nightingale, was sent some trial newsletters as part of the project, and found it a helpful way of finding out what her mother had been doing, and keeping other relatives informed. “We might see her and she might be quite grumpy for that couple of hours. But we won’t know that she’d had a great hour in drama therapy, or she’d done some painting.”

Developers reported that staff reduced admin time by more than half during the trial and they are now seeking funding to build the full app.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Universities and Small Businesses Need to Work Together

Image reproduced under license: Rama Miguel, Flickr
Universities and small businesses have much to offer each other – but can’t always see beyond their own biases - according to a new report from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills.
The report outlines findings from a series of projects supported through the UK Futures Programme, testing how local ‘anchor institutions’, such as universities, can use their expertise and influence to develop leadership and entrepreneurship skills in small businesses.
Researchers found that universities in particular have been put off developing offers for small firms because of a bias that it is a difficult market to serve with varying needs. The writer’s of the report argue that this bias needs to be challenged as anchor organisations, such as universities, stand to benefit greatly by getting involved with SMEs.
  • Gaining opportunities to tackle local skills issues and tailoring programmes to meet the needs of the local economy.
  • Developing relationships with new partners that support the evolving devolution agenda
  • Entering an additional market for trading expertise among small, ambitious businesses.

Elaine Hooker, at Teesside University said “‘Leading Roles’ was our most popular session with the most favourable feedback from businesses. It was a performance masterclass which uses theatre and drama to explore key issues in leadership and management. The group were able to share knowledge and experience in a creative and professionally structured context and expand their range of skills in: emotional intelligence and rapport, effective and inspired communication and self-presentation, handling conflict, sensitive issues and difficult conversations. I think they were surprised that as a university we taught in that way, but universities have long since taken on board that there are many different learning techniques, we need to get that message out more widely.”
On the flip side researchers found that some small businesses have their own biases about universities and are wary of the academic learning styles they believe universities offer. Universities in the commission’s programme fought back by delivering essential management skills through ‘hands-on’ learning methods. Teesside University brought in a range of partners to help deliver their leadership programme to small firms in the area, including the Drama Department.
Graham Hartley, Managing Director, Siemens Power Generation said “The SME community both nationally and locally is key to sustainable economic growth for the region and the UK, and the need to continue to develop the skills base and enhance management skills in this area is vital. As Chair of the Captured steering group, I have seen fantastic benefits for the businesses and managers who have participated. This is something Siemens is keen to support in the long term and we look forward to working with Newcastle University Business School in the future.”
The report highlights a series of characteristics that successful anchor institutions display in order to reach out to small businesses and to successfully develop their leadership skills:  
  • Partnerships that draw on the strengths of different local organisations, add more to the sum of their parts.
  • Projects that were delivered by a range of partnerships, including between Causeway Enterprise Agency, the local Council and the Department for Employment and Learning in Northern Ireland; and between Newcastle University Business School and large employers with a strong presence in the area. The profile of these organisations usually attracted small firms because they had a good reputation or could offer access to other services, such as Innovation Advisers that were offered in Teesside University’s project.
  • Offering a structured but flexible learning programme, responsive to busy small businesses.

The report found that successful partnerships were built on established relationships, mutual interest and time commitment. Where personal relationships already existed, and organisational interests were aligned, partnerships got off to a smoother start.
Julie Kenny CBE, UKCES Commissioner says “It’s great to see so many organisations finding new ways of engaging small businesses and breaking down the barriers. I was encouraged to see different types of organisation come forward to take up our challenge and what they have all shown us is that there is no ‘one size fits all’.”  Julie went on to say “I am really excited to share these findings with my Local Enterprise Partnership and more widely.  There is a huge potential for anchor institutions to work together, overcome barriers and biases and develop management skills in local small businesses. The report published today highlights that potential and shows how it can be reached.”

Friday, 5 August 2016

Is £100k Lifetime Graduate Earnings Premium A Myth?

A new report from the Intergenerational Foundation, a non-party-political charitable think tank that researches fairness between generations, challenges the current £100,000 lifetime graduate earnings premium used by politicians in order to justify increasing student fees, or changing repayment thresholds or interest rates.
The report entitled, “The Graduate Premium: manna, myth or plain mis-selling?”, dissects the “guaranteed bonus” of the lifetime graduate premium and concludes that there is no such thing, except for a select group of graduates from Oxbridge colleges, or medicine or dentistry degrees.
Angus Hanton, IF Co-Founder said, “Any politician or policy-maker who dangles the carrot of an average lifetime earnings premium should be challenged for gross mis-selling. Our research proves that the current £100,000 graduate earnings premium so often touted equates to an “annual bonus” of just £2,222 over 45 years of work. Furthermore, the premium is simply not enough to cover the interest accruing on the average loan. The current system is fuelling a self-perpetuating debt-generating machine which short-changes young people.”
The report reveals that there are simply too many variables at work to justify the existence of an average lifetime graduate earnings premium. Factors include school and institution attended, gender, ethnicity, subject studied, degree awarded, number of students in the system, and socio-economic background. Economic conditions at the time of graduating also play a part, such as changes in the labour market, the number of available graduates, and wider global economic stresses such as international competition for jobs and technology shocks. Stephen Kemp-King, report author adds, “The UK already has more over-qualified workers than any OECD country other than Japan but higher degree qualifications have not led to increased graduate pay. Instead the over-supply of graduates has led to a glut in the employment market with companies and organisations now demanding a degree for many lower-skilled jobs without needing to pay any graduate premium at all.”
Hanton continued, “Policy makers are likely to respond by citing record-breaking graduate employment figures but the issue is how much money graduates see in their pay packet not the number of jobs filled that demand a degree.”

Thursday, 4 August 2016

CQC Care Home Closures Guidance for Adult Social Care Now Available

A new good practice guide – Managing care home closures – has been published by the CQC to help minimise the impact on people, and their families and carers, in the event of a care home closing.

The CQC worked with NHS England (NHSE), the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), the Local Government Association (LGA) and the Care Provider Alliance (CPA) to produce the guide, which sets out how local and national organisations should work together in order to coordinate action, avoid duplication and prevent confusion for people using services, their families and carers, care home providers and their managers and staff.

The guide is based on an agreed set of principles, underpinned by a framework of actions, to ensure the needs of people using services, their families and carers remain at the heart of the closure process, and that the process is understood by all the bodies involved.

Now, when a care home closure situation arises, organisations including local authorities – which have the lead responsibility for people with care and support needs – clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), NHSE, CQC, providers and partners will be expected to use an appropriate and detailed checklist to ensure the process is coordinated well.

Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care, said: “Sadly, there are sometimes urgent situations when it is absolutely in people’s best interests for us to use our powers so that people can move to a better environment quickly to experience the safe, high quality and compassionate care they deserve.

“These are rare events but they have to be managed well with the needs of residents, their families and carers guiding the actions of the different organisations and professionals involved.

“Clearly defined roles and responsibilities, consistent communication and making sure people’s wishes and requirements are fully taken into account are vital to ensure the impact on people is as comfortable as possible."