Thursday, 29 December 2016

The Next Great Travel Writer 2017 Competition Now Open

Nothing excites the imagination quite like travel – and the very best travel writing can make us feel like we’re right there, riding the dusty railways with Paul Theroux or sweltering in the heat of the Spanish sun with Hemingway at our side.

But if you’re an aspiring writer, it’s not always easy to get your voice heard.

This winter Penguin and Travelex have teamed up to find the best short story by an aspiring travel writer. So whether you’re a student with editorial ambitions or you spend your days jotting down notes on your next voyage, this is the perfect platform to explore your talents – the winner gets a one-on-one session with a Penguin editor!

In addition to a one to one with an editor, the winner will also receive £1,500. The writer whose work gets the most tweets supporting their entry will be awarded a set of Penguin books. There will also be a special student prize (students are eligible for the main prize, and if it is won by a student, the runner up in the student category will be awarded the student prize).

The competition is for 1,000-word travel stories, which may be fictional or factual. Stories should preferably be based on the writer's real-life experience. Entry is free.

As the competition is for aspiring travel writers, people who are paid to write about travel are not eligible to enter.

The closing date to enter The Next Great Travel Writer 2017 is 5 February 2017.

CQC Concerned That Deaths of People with Learning Disabilities and Mental Health Problems are Not Being Learned From

The CQC has published a report into the way NHS Trusts review, investigate and learn from the deaths of patients with learning disabilities and mental health problems in their care.

They have found that opportunities to learn from patient deaths are being missed – and too many families are not being included or listened to when an investigation takes place.

Families and carers often have a poor experience of investigations and are not consistently treated with kindness, respect and honesty, despite many trusts saying that they value family involvement.

The report highlights the need for learning from deaths to be given greater priority by all those working in health and social care. Without significant change at local and national levels, it argues, opportunities to improve care for future patients will continue to be missed.

While the review found areas of good practice at individual steps in the investigation pathway, no single trust was able to demonstrate good practice across all aspects of identifying, reviewing and investigating deaths and ensuring that learning was put into practice.

With no single framework setting out what should be done to ensure that as much as possible is learned from deaths, individual providers and commissioners have developed a range of systems and processes, and practice varies widely.

Professor Sir Mike Richards, Chief Inspector of Hospitals, said: "Investigations into problems in care prior to a patient's death must improve for the benefit of families and, importantly, people receiving care in the future... This is a system-wide problem, which needs to become a national priority.

Among the report's recommendations, we call for our partners to work with us to develop a national framework, and for improvements in the way bereaved families and carers are involved in investigations.”

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

A New Mental Health Framework for Universities Unveiled

Universities UK has launched a new programme of work to help improve the mental health and wellbeing of students and staff in higher education.

The aim of the project is to develop a mental health framework for universities to embed mental health and wellbeing across all university activities.

Leading the programme is Professor Steve West, Vice-Chancellor of the University of the West of England and chair of Universities UK's Working Group on Mental Health in Higher Education. Professor West said: “Much of the debate around mental health in higher education has focused on demand for university counselling and support services. With fifty per cent of school leavers now entering university, and increased awareness of mental health generally, this is a challenge for universities.

“This programme, however, is about getting universities to think about mental health and wellbeing across all their activities. From students and teaching, through to academics and support staff.

“It means being open about mental health and promoting the anti-stigma campaigns that are already making a difference. And ensuring that students and staff know where to turn if they need support.

“Dealing with mental health is an issue for society as a whole, not just universities. But I am pleased that, through this sector-led initiative, universities are taking a lead in this area.”
The programme intends to:
  • Establish a more robust evidence base on mental health and wellbeing in higher education via a research partnership with IPPR. This will report at the Universities UK mental health conference in March 2017 and at the UUK Summer members' meeting 
  • Set out the case for institutions to see mental health as a strategic priority and to develop a whole-institution framework in support 
  • Establish baseline data on the mental health within universities and the effectiveness of interventions in place 
  • Promote the adoption of the university mental health framework and audit across the higher education sector and to help the exchange of good practice 
  • Develop guidelines for the co-commissioning of mental health services for university populations working with Public Health England, clinical experts and key stakeholders, including students.

Monday, 12 December 2016

Is Council Tax The Answer to Social Care Funding Gap?

Since the Autumn statement, which saw no mention of social care funding, the whispers that the government is considering using council tax increases to try and close the funding gap have been growing louder.

Press coverage over the weekend strongly supports the suggestion that the prime minister is considering plans to allow councils in England to increase council tax to fund the social care system. But would this be enough?

Local councils have suffered more than a 40% reduction in government grants since 2010 and councils are reporting that even if the maximum increase in council tax was imposed social care would still face a funding gap of at least £2.6bn by 2020.

Talking to Radio 4’s Today programme Chief Executive of Care England, Martin Green reported that care system is in crisis and that funding problems in the industry are "reaching a crisis point".

"Research shows that about 40% of care services will no longer be viable in the medium term, so this is a huge number of care services that will be lost, some companies will definitely go bankrupt."

He also raised concern that funds raised via council tax previously, have not always reached the front line.

Conservative councillor Izzi Seccombe, who is also the chairman of the Local Government Association's community well-being board, told BBC 4’s Today programme that increasing funding through council tax "would not plug" any funding gap.

She said the £383m raised from a previous 2% increase was eclipsed by larger costs, such as the £600m cost of the national living wage increase.

Izzi believes that a cash injection of £1.3bn is needed to cover the shortfall and reported concerns over the creation of a postcode lottery, with some councils able to raise more money through council tax than others.

Talking the The Times Andrea Sutcliffe, the chief inspector for adult social care said "We've got increased demand and potentially a restriction on capacity.

"Unless we really get to grips with some of these problems... we will get to an absolute crisis."

Friday, 9 December 2016

Large Businesses to be Shamed in to Paying SMEs on Time

The government has set out measures to increase transparency of payment practices to support SMEs

From April 2017 large businesses will have to publish details of the average time taken to pay supplier’s invoices.  These new measures aim to increase transparency and help small businesses make informed decisions about who they do business with.
As of June 2015, the overall level of late payment owed to small and medium sized businesses was reported as £26.8 billion. A recent survey from the Federation of Small Businesses said that, on average, 30% of payments are received late.
Coming into force in April 2017, this ‘duty to report’ will require large companies and limited liability partnerships (LLPs) to publicly report twice yearly on their payment practices and performance.  It is hoped that this will put a spotlight on bad practice and lead to improved standards.
The government will publish guidance on how to comply with the duty to report early next year, to help large businesses prepare for the new reporting requirements.
Small Business Minister Margot James said “By shining a light on how large businesses pay their smaller suppliers, we want to empower small businesses and drive a real change in payment culture.”
Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said “Tackling late payments is now a key part of the government’s corporate governance agenda. The comprehensive and regular duty to report is the first step to combat a business culture that feels like one where it is OK to pay small firms late. It is not OK - we estimate that 50,000 business deaths could be avoided every year, if only payments were made promptly – adding £2.5 billion to the UK economy. We need to see executive board level engagement and scrutiny of payment practices to deliver lasting cultural change.”

Thursday, 8 December 2016

CQC Publish Guidance to Dental Providers

In April 2015 the CQC started a programme of inspection of all primary care dental providers using a revised methodology.  Since then over 1000 inspections reports have been published (covering 967 dental practices).
Out of 967 practices assessed only 93 had regulatory breaches associated with them.  Enforcement action has been taken against eight dental providers.
John Milne, CQC Senior National Dental Adviser commented “Our first year shows that our inspection approach works well. We’re pleased to find that most dental practices are safe, but if we find poor or unsafe care, we will take action.”
The two most common breaches of regulations were of Regulation 12 (safe care and treatment) and Regulation 17 (good governance). Regulation 12 is mapped to the key question ‘are services safe?’ and accounted for 45% of the breaches. Regulation 17 is mapped to the key question ‘are services well-led? and made up 82% of breaches.
Areas of repeated concern included:
·         managing complaints and concerns
·         completing appropriate risk assessments
·         incomplete or out of date dental care records
·         supervision, support and staff training
·         infection prevention and control
·         medicines and equipment to deal with medical emergencies
·         incomplete recruitment checks when employing staff.
All the practices re-inspected so far have made the necessary improvements.
To encourage improvement and share good practice, the CQC has now published some examples of notable practice found on inspection – click here to view online.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Costa Book Awards 2016 Shortlists Announced

The Costa Book Awards is the only major UK book prize that is open solely to authors resident in the UK and Ireland. There are five categories being judged – First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children's Book - published in the last year.

This year's awards attracted 596 entries and judges on this year's panels (three per category) included writers Nicci Gerrard, Andrew O'Hagan, Mary Loudon, Matthew Dennison, poet, author and vlogger Jen Campbell and author-illustrator, Cressida Cowell.

Winners in the five categories, who each receive £5,000, will be announced on Tuesday 3rd January 2017. The overall winner of the 2016 Costa Book of the Year will receive £30,000 and will be selected and announced at the Costa Book Awards ceremony in central London on Tuesday 31st January 2017.

The shortlist includes a total of 20 authors, 14 female and 6 male and the poetry shortlist is all female this year.

"I'm certain that readers of all tastes will find something to enjoy in this fantastic selection of books," commented Dominic Paul, Managing Director of Costa. "My thanks go to the category judges who read so extensively and chose so carefully, and many congratulations to the shortlisted authors. We're very proud of our heritage and connection with the Book Awards at Costa and we wish them all great success."


2016 Costa Novel Award shortlist

  • Days Without End - Sebastian Barry (Faber & Faber)
  • This Must be the Place - Maggie O'Farrell (Tinder Press)
  • The Essex Serpent - Serpent's Tail (Sarah Perry)
  • The Gustav Sonata - Rose Tremain (Chatto & Windus)

2016 Costa First Novel Award shortlist

  • The Good Guy - Susan Beale (John Murray)
  • My Name is Leon - Kit de Waal (Viking)
  • The Words in My Hand - Guinevere Glasfurd (Two Roads)
  • Golden Hill - Francis Spufford (Faber & Faber)

2016 Costa Biography Award shortlist

  • Dadland: A Journey into Uncharted Territory - Keggie Carew (Chatto & Windus)
  • Elizabeth: The Forgotten - John Guy (Years Viking)
  • The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between - Hisham Matar (Viking)

2016 Costa Poetry Award shortlist

  • Sunshine - Melissa Lee-Houghton (Penned in the Margins)
  • Falling Awake - Alice Oswald (Jonathan Cape Poetry)
  • Say Something Back - Denise Riley (Picador)
  • Let Them Eat Chaos - Kate Tempest (Picador)

2016 Costa Children's Book Award shortlist

  • The Bombs That Brought Us Together - Brian Conaghan (Bloomsbury)
  • Orange Boy - Patrice Lawrence (Hodder Children's Books)
  • The Monstrous Child - Francesca Simon (Faber & Faber/Profile Books)
  • Time Travelling with a Hamster - Ross Welford (Harper Collins Children's Books)

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Free Digital Service to Help Businesses Expand into Global Markets Launched

Of the 2.5 million businesses registered in the UK, an estimated 360,000 who have an exportable product or service mistakenly believe there isn’t a global demand for it.

The government’s new digital trade hub is part of a push to help 100,000 UK businesses export by 2020, taking advantage of the global appetite for UK goods and services.

The new platform offers UK businesses secure preferential deals through the Department for International Trade to help them start exporting.  It also gives businesses access to a brand new searchable export directory to match businesses according to the worldwide demand for different UK goods and services.
The site is designed to act as a single digital destination for trade and investment, bringing together and connecting UK businesses, international buyers and international investors. Whether businesses are new, occasional or frequent exporters, they will be able to take advantage of the new suite of tools and exclusive deals on fees or commissions with some of world’s leading online marketplaces.
By registering, businesses can become part of a brand new searchable directory of UK exporters which the government will use to match their products and services with worldwide demand.
International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox said “We have always been at the forefront of the free trade-supporting countries in the EU, but despite this only around 11% of registered British businesses currently export beyond our borders. Some businesses have told us they don’t know where to start or how to make the next step onto the global marketplace. That’s why we want to support UK businesses large and small as they grow, and help them connect with global demand to fulfil our greatest economic ambitions.”
Through e-exporting alone government intends to deliver an additional 20,000 online exporters and £2 billion worth of value to the UK economy by 2020.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Kings Fund Conclude STPs Represent a Positive Step Forward for the NHS

The King’s Fund has been examining the usefulness of the government’s Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) for the NHS and has concluded that they offer the best hope for improving health and care services in the NHS, despite having been beset by problems so far.
STPs are currently in development in 44 areas of England but have not been fully embraced, meeting strong local criticism in the areas in which they are being developed.  Many of these criticisms are shared by the Kings Fund and have been highlighted in their report:
  • The regulatory environment, informed by the Health and Social Care Act 2012, in which collaborative working is made more difficult, due to the focus on competition, is severely hampering progress and innovative thinking.
  • Involvement of local government has been patchy.
  • There has not been enough time to adequately involve clinicians and frontline staff.
  • With huge pressure on NHS finances, some plans are being based on assumptions and projections that local leaders lack confidence in.
  • Patients and the public have been ‘largely absent’ from the process.
  • STP leads are struggling with a confused process, with unclear or changing deadlines and instructions from national NHS bodies.
  • There is a lack of governance structure or formal authority for STP leaders that has led one STP lead to describe their role as being like ‘operating in a sea of fog’.
Despite these problems, the King’s Fund urges the government and the NHS to continue to back STPs as they believe they offer the best hope for delivering long term improvement in health and social care.
The report made the following recommendations for making them work better.
  • all parts of the health and care system, as well as the public, should be involved in the plans;
  • improved governance is needed, with the role of STP leaders strengthened and clarified, and NHS regulation changed to make it easier for organisations to work collaboratively;
  • national bodies in the NHS need to ‘stress test’ STPs to ensure the assumptions behind them are credible and the proposed changes realistic.
Chris Ham, Chief Executive of The King’s Fund, said: ‘The introduction of STPs has been beset by problems and has been frustrating for many of those involved, but it is vital that we stick with them.  For all the difficulties over the last few months, their focus on organisations in each area working together is the right approach for improving care and meeting the needs of an ageing population. It is also clear that our health and care system is under unprecedented pressure, and if STPs do not work then there is no plan B.”

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Could You Write a Modern Version of Twas The Night Before Christmas?

Amazon has launched a competition with the aim of publishing a modern day version of Twas The Night Before Christmas for families to read this Christmas Eve. 

The winning author will win a prize package including professional illustrations of their story that could be read by millions on Christmas Eve, a £2,000 Amazon gift card and a top of the range Fire tablet.

Rules of entry are as follows:
  • All UK residents are eligible to apply
  • The story must be family-friendly and Christmas themed
  • The word limit is between 350-700 words
·         Competition closes on Sunday 27th November
Your submission will only be eligible for consideration if you include answers to the following:
  • Your full legal name
  • Age at the time of entry
  • Town of residence
  • Occupation
  •  Your inspiration to write the book
Aspiring authors can submit their stories by emailing their entries to
The winner will be announced at the beginning of December. Good luck!

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Applications Open for Chair of New Office for Students

Applications are open for the position of chair of the government’s Office for Students, a new body designed to increase competition and choice in higher education.

The Office for Students was set up in recognition of the need to reform higher education to ensure the sector fulfils its potential and maintains its global standing.

The office’s remit will combine the existing regulatory functions of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and the Office for Fair Access (OFFA). The Office for Students (OfS) will act as a single body to regulate the sector with a strong focus on choice and competition. This includes a renewed focus on widening participation and ensuring more students from disadvantaged backgrounds can benefit from studying at UK universities.

The OfS chair will be tasked with leading the creation of the OfS and setting out its direction in the coming years working with the executive team and the board. The chair will also take a leading role in the formation of the OfS including advising the Secretary of State on the recruitment and selection of the non-executive board and the key executive positions of chief executive and director for fair access and participation, ensuring they incorporate a range of experience noted in the bill and reflect the diversity of the sector.

Universities Minister Jo Johnson said “By creating the Office for Students, we will put student choice, teaching quality and social mobility at the top of the agenda in higher education.

The role of the chair will be vital in delivering this aim and ensuring there is direct link with the sector. I look forward to working with the successful applicant on delivering these important reforms.”

The NUS has serious misgivings about the new Office for Students and has pointed out that despite the title of the department being the Office FOR Students, not one single student representative has been included on the board or the panel responsible for recruiting the chair. They are encouraging students to make their voices heard by applying for the post themselves!

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Councils Planning to Use Reserves to Fund Adult Social Care Funding Gap

Research by ADASS shows that the crisis in adult social care is worsening.  Local government overspends are projected to reach almost £0.5 billion (£441million), and further residential home closures are forecast, whilst pressure continues to grow from the NHS.
The figures have been revealed in a snapshot survey of 129 of the 152 directors of adult social services in England.
The survey found that councils are considering using their reserves to plug funding gaps.  It also found that 62 per cent of councils have had residential and nursing home closures, and 57 per cent have had care providers hand back contracts in the last six months.
The closure of services and handing back of contracts has affected an estimated 10,820 people using council-funded care with some of them having to move to a new home.
Nearly four in five councils (79 per cent) have quality concerns with one or more home care and/or residential and nursing care providers (84 per cent).
The situation is made worse by pressures from the NHS. Some projected overspends, particularly the larger amounts, reflect a reduction in funding from the NHS to social care. Other results include:
  • 68 per cent of Directors having discussions about reductions to NHS-funded continuing healthcare;
  • 56 per cent reporting increased demand for healthcare activity to be undertaken by social care staff; and;
  • 51 per cent reporting increased demand from people with very high needs not being admitted to hospital.
ADASS Immediate Past President Ray James said “This survey paints a picture of adult social care verging ever nearer to a point of crisis. The funding gaps are a huge concern for the sector because the impact this is having on the lives of thousands of older and disabled people, their families and carers, is both significant and extremely worrying. 
Urgent and significant government investment is needed now to address funding for the sector, or thousands of people who rely, or hope to rely, on receiving care, will suffer as a result.”

Monday, 7 November 2016

Alternative Finance Platform Scheme to Support SMEs Launched

Research shows that 71% of businesses seeking finance only ask one lender and, if rejected for finance, many simply give up on investment rather than seek alternative options.

Last year 324,000 small and medium sized business sought a loan or overdraft, 26% of these were initially declined by their bank and only 3% of those declined were referred to other sources of help.

Under a new government scheme, the Alternative Finance Platform Scheme, small businesses struggling to access finance from big banks will be matched with alternative finance options.

9 of the UK’s biggest banks are taking part and will pass on the details of small businesses they have rejected for finance to three finance platforms - Funding Xchange, Business Finance Compared and Funding Options.
The platforms will then share these details with alternative finance providers and go on to facilitate a conversation between businesses and any provider who expresses an interest in supplying finance to them.
These new rules make it easier for businesses to access finance when they have been turned down by traditional lenders.
RBS, Lloyds, HSBC, Barclays, Santander, Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank, Bank of Ireland, Danske Bank and First Trust Bank, will all have to offer access to these finance platforms, with small business having to give their permission before their details are shared.
Speaking at the scheme’s launch Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond said “A refusal from a big bank should not be the end of the line for a small business and, thanks to the finance platforms being launched today, now it won’t be.”
Keith Morgan, CEO of the British Business Bank said “This new government initiative, supported by the British Business Bank, has the potential to make a real difference to smaller business finance markets in the UK. It gives businesses additional opportunities to secure funding, alternative providers access to a bigger market of potential clients, and major banks an extra service to offer their business clients when they cannot themselves provide finance”.

Friday, 4 November 2016

CQC Publishes Advice for Families with Relatives in Care Homes

The CQC has published information for people living in care homes, their family and friends clarifying their visiting rights and the CQC’s expectations of providers who are responsible for ensuring people are supported to maintain relationships that are important to them.

The publication of this advice follows a number of high profile cases in the media where relatives have experienced visiting restrictions, or their loved ones being forced to leave against their wishes, after raising concerns with those in charge of running care homes.

The guidance is designed to help people looking to understand their rights when a loved one moves into a care home, and to make sure providers are very clear about their obligations.

The CQC’s Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care, Andrea Sutcliffe, said “Care homes are people’s homes. They, their family and friends should not live in fear of being penalised for raising concerns.
“Good providers know this and we see plenty of excellent practice where managers and staff respond to complaints positively and make sure it is as easy as possible for people to visit their loved ones in a welcoming, friendly environment.

“But we know this is not always everyone’s experience, with reports of visiting restrictions and people being forced to leave against their wishes. We also know that too many people are frightened to raise concerns because they think this is going to happen.

“We have published information to clarify people’s rights and our expectations of providers so that people living in care homes, their family and friends can be more confident that their concerns will be listened to and acted upon by providers responsible for delivering safe, compassionate and high quality care.”

To view the latest guidance click here.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

A New Home For Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature

Have you discovered the Unbound Worlds website yet? 

The successor to Suvudu it is dedicated to the literary worlds of science fiction and fantasy. The website offers readers insight into books and authors from all publishers at the crossroads of science fiction and fantasy, including slipstream, pop science, fairy tales and folklore, magical realism, urban fantasy, and more.

Authors are encouraged to get involved with the site, with Unbound Worlds looking for ideas from writers in relevant genres, as well as those who have been influenced by science fiction and fantasy literature.

The team behind Unbound Worlds describe the site as original, smart, engaging, and quirky. The site offers a sleeker, vastly updated design, mobile features, and an expanded editorial scope providing even more of the engaging content that defined Suvudu. Visitors to Unbound Worlds can expect to find:

· Exclusive content such as interviews and original author essays.

· Event coverage of conventions with details about author appearances, panels, and signings.

· Features that include book lists, 50-Page Friday excerpts, and coverage of popular series.

· Sweeps and giveaways such as prizes, swag, and advance reads.

· Cage Match, an annual original bracket-style tournament of fictional characters that enlists writers to create fictional battles and readers to vote for winners.

Kristin Fritz, Unbound Worlds Director said “Unbound Worlds welcomes readers of all stripes, from fangirls to sci-fi diehards and those new to the genre. As we evolve and expand Suvudu into this new experience, our hope is that readers find Unbound Worlds the ideal go-to destination for the latest happenings in science fiction and fantasy books and news.”

Check it out for yourself at

Monday, 24 October 2016

Pharmacists Encouraged to Provide Services in Care Homes

Plans to modernise community pharmacies have been announced by the government.

The modernisation plans are designed to make the most of pharmacists’ skills in all health care settings, including GP surgeries and care homes. Pharmacists’ payments will be based on quality of service, with establishment payments being phased out and a new Pharmacy Integration Fund will support community pharmacies develop new clinical pharmacy services and new ways of working, in new settings and online, in support of the NHS as a whole.

Under the new Quality Payment Scheme pharmacies will receive funding based on their ability to provide a quality service to the public. Examples of standards they will need to demonstrate they meet include:
  • Demonstrating that they are a ‘healthy living-pharmacy’, helping prevent health problems developing rather than simply treating them.
  • Publishing the results of patient experience surveys so people can making informed choice about which pharmacy to go to.
  • Demonstrating that staff are trained in how to support patients with conditions such as dementia.
By incentivising pharmacists to make their services available in a range of settings such as GP surgeries and care homes, it is hoped that patients will receive a better service, when and where they need it, and pressure will be relieved from A&E and GP surgeries.

Beginning in December 2016, NHS England will be working to embed pharmacies into NHS urgent care by expanding the services already provided by community pharmacies in England for those who need urgent repeat prescriptions and treatment for urgent minor ailments and common conditions. This will help to relieve GPs’ workloads, and help to bring about real practical long-term change.

Health Minister David Mowat said “Far from jeopardising services, our modernisation package will make the most of skills and transform how pharmacists and their teams operate in the community, ensuring the public receives the very best care in the places they need it, 7 days a week.”

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Amazon & The Guardian Offering Free Advice to SMEs Wanting to Embrace Digital Retail

If you are looking to grow your business by improving your knowledge of the internet and digital technology to increase online sales and exports this is the event for you!

Enterprise Nation has partnered with Amazon and The Guardian Small Business Network to deliver a one-day event with advice from a host of experts on how to succeed in the digital economy, as well as practical workshops on how Amazon can help your business grow.


In the morning, you'll be able to find out how you can make the most of the digital opportunity as a small business, with insight from Deputy Mayor for Business, Rajesh Agrawal; Amazon UK Country Manager, Doug Gurr; Emma Jones, Founder of Enterprise Nation; and other experts. In particular there will be discussions on how SMEs can boost exports, reach a bigger customer and improve the customer experience by using the internet, mobile apps and more.

There will be networking opportunities over lunch and in the afternoon, you'll have the opportunity to attend practical workshops on:

· Reaching new customers by exporting across the globe through Amazon Marketplace

· Scaling your digital infrastructure to successfully grow your business with Amazon Web Services

· Reaching customers in exciting new ways through Alexa, Amazon’s new voice service

· Looking beyond the shop window to sell your food or drink products online to Amazon's UK customers

· Publishing your own book to a potential audience of millions of customers around the world.

The event has the seal of approval the office of London Mayor Sadiq Khan. In attendance at the event will be Deputy Mayor for London, Rajesh Agrawal, who will speak about the need for SMEs to embrace digital channels. “Having run my own international business, I have seen first-hand the power of the digital economy and what it can do for growth and job creation. The Mayor and I are working hard to ensure that small businesses are supported to grow and scale-up through initiatives like The Mayor’s International Business Programme. I am therefore delighted to be supporting Amazon, Enterprise Nation and The Guardian in helping SMEs build the skills needed to succeed on the global stage.”

Emma Jones, founder of Enterprise Nation and SME ambassador, said “Businesses are without doubt missing out if they don’t develop their digital expertise, but many firms find it hard to get access to realistic early stage support. Today more and more people are setting up at home while holding down a day job and quite a lot of it can be guess work with success being hit and miss. The Amazon Digital Business Academy can help address this by showing how and in what way the digital economy can play a role in every business endeavour.”

Time: 9.30am - 4pm

Location: Amazon Fashion Photography Studio in Hoxton, London

Cost: Free to attend

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

CQC State of Care Report Exposes Pressures on Social Care Services

The CQC’s annual State of Care report has been published and it shows that most health and adult social care services in England are providing people with safe, high quality and compassionate care, but it also raises concerns about the sustainability of this position in the future.
The report is based on findings from over 21,000 inspection and, for the first time, repeat inspections. Despite increasingly challenging circumstances, many services have managed to either improve or maintain quality. However, there is evidence of deterioration in quality, with some providers struggling to improve.
Around three-quarters (76%) of NHS services, care homes, general practices and other services that were rated as ‘inadequate’ were able to improve their ratings following re-inspection. 23% went from ‘inadequate’ to ‘good’ and 53% went from ‘inadequate’ to ‘requires improvement’.
47% of providers that were re-inspected following a rating of ‘requires improvement’ were not able to improve their rating. Most worryingly, in 8% of cases, the quality of care had deteriorated so much that the rating was downgraded to ‘inadequate’.
The report raises concerns that the fragility of the adult social care market is now beginning to impact both on the people who rely on these services and on the performance of NHS care. The combination of a growing and ageing population, more people with long-term conditions, and a challenging economic climate means greater demand on services and more problems for people in accessing care.
Commenting on the report, David Behan, chief executive of the Care Quality Commission, saidWhat distinguishes many of the good and outstanding services is the way they work with others – hospitals working with GPs; GPs working with social care and all providers working with people who use services. Unless the health and social care system finds a better way to work together, I have no doubt that next year there will be more people whose needs aren’t met, less improvement and more deterioration.”

You can read the full report at

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Student Accommodation in London is the Most Expensive in the World

The variation in the cost of living and studying for domestic and international students around the world has been highlighted in Savills latest World Student Housing report.

While Boston and New York are the most expensive cities for both domestic and foreign students, when you break the costs down and look at the cost of staying in purpose-built accommodation, London is the most expensive place to study.

In many countries tuition fees for local students are lower than for international students. Students looking to avoid a hike in tuition fees should head for Shanghai, Berlin, Beijing and Munich where they will find they are not paying more than the locals, or Tokyo, Seoul or Bristol where the fees are only slightly higher.

The research assessed the costs of living, purpose-built accommodation and tuition for students studying at top ranking institutions in major student cities around the globe.

Overall, mainland European and Asian cities tend to be the most affordable destinations for both types of students, while US, Western European and Australian cities are the most expensive. Students in a high ranking US institutions can expect to pay between $3,000 and $4,000 per month in tuition fees and $1,000 to $1,600 for private, purpose built accommodation and additional monthly living costs. London, Sydney and Melbourne then follow, given high fees for international students ($2,000 to $2,400 per month) and comparatively high accommodation costs.

By contrast, mainland European cities are notable for their affordability. Living and studying in Berlin, Lyon and Munich is comparable to studying in Beijing and Shanghai – but with even lower tuition fees. Both domestic and international students pay a nominal monthly fee for tuition, the cost of living is low, and private purpose built student accommodation tends to cost less than $500 per month.

Marcus Roberts, director of Student Investment and Development at Savills, commented “Many students still choose to study in the US, UK and Australia despite the expense due to the fact that courses are taught in English and that these locations are home to many institutions that appear at top of the rankings tables.

“The old order, however, is changing. With greater commercial focus, more courses taught in English and alignment to the bachelor system, European universities are on the rise. France, for example, has seen the number of institutions in the QS Top 700 increase from 19 to 26 since 2012, Germany has the third most ranked institutions globally with Spain the tenth. China, meanwhile, has overtaken Japan to take fifth position.”

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Funding Opportunity for Projects Wanting to Tackle Rising GP Demand Announced

NHS England and the academic health science network is seeking to invest in innovative ways to deal with increasing demands on GP surgeries. Organisations can apply for up to £100,000 to develop innovative ideas that will help GP practices cope with increasing demands placed on their practices.

The demand for general practice is at its highest ever level. The number of face-to-face consultations increased by 13% between 2010 and 2015 at the same time as the number of GPs was declining.

GPs are expected to face increasing demands on their practices as more and more elements of care are pushed out of hospitals and into general practice.

The NHS is seeking to fund projects under a SBRI (Small Business Research Initiative) in three areas:
  • workload and demand management: solutions that better forecast the demands that will be placed on surgeries and help to release GP time
  • diagnostics and earlier triage: technology that allows rapid diagnostic testing to take place within general practices rather than in acute care
  • self-care: products that help the patient to look after themselves in partnership with their GP

Competition Information

  • The deadline for applications is at noon on 24 November 2016.
  • Single companies or organisations from the private, public and third sectors, including charities, can apply.
  • Up to £100,000 is available for individual feasibility studies in the first stage of the competition.
  • Successful projects could attract contracts of up to £1 million for further development of the idea.
  • Funding is available in the form of 100% funded development contracts.
  • Briefing events will be held in Cambridge on 25 October 2016 and in Bristol on 27 October 2016.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Online Rateable Value Calculator Launched for Business

The Valuation Office Agency has launched its online rateable value calculator for businesses big and small.  The online service allows you to view your draft rateable values and get an estimate of your 2017-18 bill.

Anyone in England and Wales who pays business rates, can go online to check their new draft rateable value. From this they can get an estimate of what their business rates will be from April 2017.

It only takes a couple of minutes to click, find and review a rateable value and if you think the information held about your property is incorrect, you can ask the Valuation Office Agency to update their records.

The agency has also updated its online service, based on detailed research into what ratepayers want and need. The new service allows ratepayers to use it at a time and in a way that suits them, including on smart phones and tablets.

Click here to use the calculator, simply enter your postcode or street address.  Rateable values used are based on rental values on 1st April 2015.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

CQC Issues Guidance on Hospital Discharge Needs Assessments

The CQC has issued guidance for care homes on Hospital Needs Assessment, following concern that care home providers are not readmitting people after periods in hospital without conducting full, in person assessments of need.

The CQC statement aims to make clear the legal requirements around this subject and offer some best practice guidance. The advice and guidance applies equally to community adult social care services.

Regulation 9 of the 2014 Regulated Activities Regulations makes it clear that providers must undertake a needs assessment before providing a service, and must do so in collaboration with the person being cared for or someone with legal powers to make relevant decisions. This is an important requirement and one of the fundamentals of providing good care.

However, while needs assessments of people not previously admitted to a service will normally require face-to-face contact, where an existing service user has been admitted to hospital, regulation 9 does not necessarily require the provider to physically see the person when reviewing their needs and planning the re-start of their care on discharge.

Where a provider is confident that they can rely on information from hospital or care management staff, and that on the basis of this information they are able to meet the person’s needs, they do not necessarily need to see them in person. This includes in relation to gaining consent to their care and treatment being transferred back to the care home.

The CQC stresses that every decision about a needs assessment requires careful judgement, and will need to take into account a variety of variables. Care providers will ultimately need to be confident about:
  • The reliability of the needs-related information supplied by other sources.
  • Their ability to meet the person’s continuing and any new needs
  • The person’s (or someone with valid legal powers’) continuing consent to the care they will provide
These elements can be discussed, assessed and concluded by any appropriate means, for example by telephone, email or in person. The mechanisms involved and what was agreed and decided must be recorded.

Ultimately, if a provider is not convinced by or confident in the information provided to them by a third party, they need to undertake their own needs assessment.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

General Practice Planning Guidance for 2017/18 and 2018/19 Published

Delivering the Forward View: NHS Operational Planning Guidance for 2017/18 and 2018/19 has been published by NHS England and NHS Improvement. The document provides NHS trusts and commissioners with the tools they need to plan for the years.
On top of already announced increases to primary medical care allocations for general practice, the guidance confirms that there will also be further local recurrent funding to improve and increase capacity in general practice, totalling £138m by 2017/18 and increasing to £258m by 2018/19 (part of the wider commitment to invest an extra £2.4 billion in general practice services by 2020/21).
  • In 2016/17 the additional funding will be restricted to:
  • Practices involved in the General Practice Access Fund pilot scheme (formerly known as the Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund)
  • A number of additional areas across the country which will accelerate delivery of improving GP access in 2017/18. 
  • A London wide programme of improving access from 2016/17.The investment will be extended in 2018/19 to enable the whole country to start developing additional capacity, so that from April 2019 every CCG can expect a minimum additional £6 per head to improve access to general practice.
For the first time, the new planning guidance also places a requirement on CCGs to develop local action plans detailing how they will deliver on the aims set out in the General Practice Forward View (as part of their Sustainability and Transformation Plans). In particular, the plans will need to set out how CCGs will invest funds to support and transform general practice.
CCGs need to provide plans outlining their approach to implementing the General Practice Forward View by 23 December 2016.

Arvind Madan, NHS England’s Director of Primary Care, said: “We know that general practice is under pressure and we are determined to maintain the momentum in turning things around, as started with the launch of the General Practice Forward View. Today’s planning guidance, with detail on how investment will look in the coming years, demonstrates the steps we will be taking with CCGs to both stabilise and transform GP services in the years to come.”

“CCGs will be able to commission extra services, making the most of new technologies and the wider workforce. This might include commissioning provision of access to pre-bookable and same day appointments to general practice services in evenings (after 6:30pm) and at weekends, meeting local population needs as appropriate. This should help reduce demand on both general practice in-hours, and urgent care services.”

Monday, 26 September 2016

King’s Fund Calls for Credible Digital Health Plan with Appropriate Levels of Funding

Government ministers and NHS leaders should set out a definitive plan for expanding the use of digital technology in the health service, according to a new briefing published by The King’s Fund.

The briefing highlights the risk of losing credibility and commitment among frontline NHS staff if the digital health agenda continues to be subject to shifting priorities, new initiatives and slipping timescales. It calls for urgent clarification of when funding already announced will be made available, warning that holding back investment until later in the parliament will inevitably slow down progress.

The briefing assesses progress made against key commitments including:
  • The implementation of electronic patient record.
  • Increasing the number of accredited health apps.
  • Rolling out online appointment booking and repeat prescription services.
It concludes that digital technology has the potential to deliver significant benefits to patients and health professionals but that progress in implementing it is patchy.

The report goes on to criticise the level of funding available to support digital and technology projects in the NHS over the course of this parliament. Supporting the conclusion of the recent national review led by Professor Robert Wachter, that additional funding will be needed to achieve the government’s goals, as well as his call for a more realistic timetable for implementing the NHS digital agenda in acute hospitals, where most progress needs to be made.

Matthew Honeyman, policy researcher at The King’s Fund, said “Ministers and NHS leaders must articulate a clear and compelling vision which conveys the benefits of digitisation to the clinical staff who will be central to implementing it and provide certainty about the funds available to support it.”

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Social Publishing is Offering Authors a New Route to Market

Social Publishing is a publishing company with a difference, changing the rules of conventional publishing by including a social element.

The company will be editing and publishing ebooks and paperbacks in the traditional manner, but how they will select their titles is quite different. Rather than a team of editors choosing which books to publish, Social Publishing’s online platform allows readers to make those choices.

Authors can upload parts of their manuscripts to the website and readers are given 5 votes per month to vote for the ones they would like to see published. When a manuscript reaches an undisclosed vote threshold, the writer is contacted and awarded a publishing contract.

Whether you get a contract or not, this outlet offers authors a platform to share their passions, gain recognition and followers.

Visit Social Publishing to find out more at

CQC Updates Code of Practice on Confidential Personal Information

The CQC’s Code of Practice on Confidential Personal Information covers the sharing of personal information held by the CQC and the criteria set for deciding whether or not they need to look at medical care records during an inspection. 
Examples of confidential personal information covered by the policy:
·         A person’s medical or care records, or specific pieces of information about their physical or mental health, condition or treatments.
·         Information about a care provider’s social or family life.
·         Details of a care worker’s education, training and experience.
·         Information about the sexuality, religious beliefs and racial or ethnic origin of a CQC employee.
·         Information that would identify people who have shared information in confidence with the CQC, including people who use the services regulated by the CQC, ‘whistleblowers’, and people they have interviewed in private during inspections.
Earlier this year the CQC consulted on the code of practice and plans to update it.  They have now published a revised code in response to feedback received.
The revised code of practice recognises the most recent changes in legislation and ensures that CQC policy aligns with codes of practices on confidential information from NHS Digital and the Department of Health. It explains more clearly than before why the CQC needs to use confidential personal information and gives specific examples to show how the code will translate into action.
The updated code of practice can be found on the CQC’s privacy page.