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.