Friday, 13 October 2017

CQC Reports That Hospices are Leading the Way in Providing Outstanding Care

Hospice care across England has the highest percentage of services rated ‘Outstanding’, according to a new report from the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The State of Hospice Services in England, 2014 to 2017 published during Hospice Care Week and ahead of World Hospice and Palliative Care Day tomorrow (Saturday 14 October) has found that 25% of hospices are rated as Outstanding (51 services), with a further 70% (142 services) being rated as Good. This is in comparison to around 6% of NHS acute hospitals, 4% of GP services and 2% of domiciliary care agencies, nursing homes and residential homes being rated Outstanding.

In particular, inspectors found that hospice leaders and frontline staff displayed a strong commitment to providing truly person-centred, compassionate care and support to people using their services, and their loved ones, as well as developing strong relationships with other services in the area.

Services rated as Outstanding were found to be striving to overcome inequalities and share their expertise to drive better care in other services.  For example, inspectors found that St Ann’s Hospice in Salford has engaged with its local transgender community to help understand their specific anxieties and concerns as well as operating an ‘Exchange Programme’ with its local NHS Foundation Trust so nurses from both can spend time in the other’s setting and expand their skills. Also, Dorothy House Hospice Care near Bath runs a dedicated partnership project to support homeless people at the end of life and worked with Royal United Hospital on projects to support people to leave hospital more quickly, if the hospice could offer them care away from the acute setting.

Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care at the Care Quality Commission, said: “People often access hospice care at a time when their complicated health and social care needs have to be met alongside compassionate emotional support. This is not a simple thing to do.

“It was clear from our inspections that the vast majority of hospices have the needs of people and their families at the centre of their work. It is particularly encouraging to see services committed to continuing improvement reach out to groups they had little contact with in the past to understand the obstacles they have faced and how they can support them better now and in the future.

“To see dedicated staff have such careful consideration of the whole person and their needs was a privilege for inspectors and something I would encourage other services to learn from.”

Thursday, 12 October 2017

London Urgent Care Centre Placed into Special Measures by the CQC

An urgent care centre at St Mary’s hospital in Paddington, north-west London, has been rated Inadequate overall and placed into Special Measures by the Care Quality Commission.

St Mary’s Urgent Care Centre, located within St Mary's Hospital, which is run by Vocare Limited, was rated Inadequate for being safe, effective and well-led. It was rated Requires Improvement for being caring and Good for being responsive to people’s needs, after the inspection in July 2017.
  • Opportunities to prevent or minimise harm were missed as there was insufficient oversight and monitoring of ongoing incidents and risks both at local and organisational level.
  • There was insufficient attention to safeguarding children and vulnerable adults.
  • The provider had insufficient assurances in place to demonstrate that people received effective care.
Areas where inspectors found Vocare must make improvements include:
  • Ensuring care and treatment is provided in a safe way to patients.
  • Introducing effective methods to achieve good governance - in accordance with the requirements of the fundamental standards of care.
  • Ensuring sufficient numbers of suitably qualified, competent, skilled and experienced persons are deployed to meet the fundamental standards of care and treatment.
  • Ensuring staff receive the appropriate support, training, professional development, supervision and appraisal necessary to enable them to carry out the duties.
Areas where the provider should make improvements include:
  • Reviewing the fire evacuation procedure to ensure all staff understand what to do in the event of a fire.
  • Reviewing auditory privacy at all points of patient access to the service.
  • Reviewing how patients with a hearing impairment would access the service.
  • Considering providing patient literature in languages aligned to people using the service.
Michele Golden, Head of General Practice Inspection in London, said “We found there had been a lack of clear management and clinical leadership and staff had not felt supported in their day-to-day roles at Vocare Limited’s St Mary’s Urgent Care Centre."

“CQC is placing this service in special measures. Services placed in special measures will be inspected again within six months. If insufficient improvements have been made, we will take action in line with our enforcement procedures to begin the process of preventing the provider from operating the service."

“However, staff did say that communication and engagement had improved since an interim management team had been in place. On the day of the inspection we observed members of staff were courteous and helpful to patients and treated them with dignity and respect.”

Monday, 9 October 2017

QAA Takes Actions Against Essay Mills Helping Students Cheat

The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA), responsible for safeguarding standards and improving the quality of UK higher education, has turned its attention to Essay Mills and students caught cheating.

Following QAA's investigation into essay mills last year, universities minister Jo Johnson MP asked QAA to work on measures to combat so-called 'contract cheating', where students pay a company or individual to produce work they then pass off as their own.

The QAA has launched new guidance setting out best practice around promoting academic integrity in higher education, through tackling students' use of third parties' services in order to cheat. It covers the use of essay mills and other forms of contract cheating. The guidance outlines the issues and sets out the steps providers can take to deal with them.

The new guidance recommends:
  • clear information for students on the risks of cheating, including academic misconduct being reported to relevant professional bodies
  • support for students to develop independent study skills, including academic writing
  • using a range of assessment methods to limit opportunities for cheating
  • blocking essay mill sites and taking action against essay mill advertising on campus
  • smarter detection, including new software and greater familiarity with students' personal styles and capabilities
  • appropriate support for whistleblowing - to protect accuser as well as accused
  • student involvement on academic misconduct policies and panels.
QAA chief executive Douglas Blackstock commented "It is important that students are not duped by these unscrupulous essay companies."

"Paying someone else to write essays is wrong and could damage their career. Education providers should take appropriate action to tackle and prevent this kind of abuse."

"QAA supports a consistent approach among higher education providers in tackling the problem. We are also asking universities and colleges to record incidents of this and other kinds of cheating, to help build a clearer picture of the scale of the problem in UK higher education."

Friday, 6 October 2017

Health and Social Care Partnership Working Praised by CQC

The CQC's Chief Inspector of Primary Care Services has praised health and social care organisations in the London Borough of Sutton for their work in improving care for people as they move between hospitals and social care.  Concluding that a strong commitment to partnership working across most local organisations in Sutton is paying off.

In the past three years, they have seen a reduction in:
  • the number of older people needing to go to hospital in an emergency
  • avoidable healthcare conditions among people in care homes
  • overall medicines costs
  • the number of urinary tract infections, pressure ulcers and falls among residents of care homes.
The CQC report found that that staff in local hospitals and those working in the care sector feel a strong partnership and commitment in working together to provide the best care. Access to training and support has increased the confidence of many care workers.

Sutton CCG was clear about its role in supporting and driving change, providing a care home support team that includes link nurses to support care home staff and give training to ensure that they all have the same approach. Specialist end of life care nurses provide training, liaison, support and role modelling to care staff, and care home pharmacists provide medication reviews for residents as well as advice to care home staff.

Sutton Clinical Commissioning Group and its partners have won widespread recognition for introducing the Hospital Transfer Pathway initiative known as the Red Bag – which helps people living in care homes receive quick and effective treatment if they need to go into hospital in an emergency.

The Red Bag contains standardised information about a resident's general health and any existing medical conditions or medication, easily accessible to ambulance and hospital staff. It accompanies people as they go into hospital – and when they come out again.

Professor Steve Field, Chief Inspector of Primary Care Services, said “The London Borough of Sutton has shown just what can be achieved when everybody in the system works together to support joined up care."

“It is more important than ever that local authorities, social care providers and their NHS colleagues in acute, community and primary medical services work together in mature, purposeful and trusting relationships."

“If they can achieve that - as they have in Sutton - there is every chance that the communities those organisations serve will be provided with good quality care. And that's vital for all those people living with long term conditions who may need to move between health and care services as their needs change.”

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Welsh Writer Cynan Jones Wins BBC Short Story Award

Welsh writer Cynan Jones has won the coveted BBC National Short Story Award with BookTrust 2017 for his story "The Edge of the Shoal".

Described by writer and judge, Jon McGregor as a "genuinely thrilling" piece of writing with "a completeness of vision and execution that made it an inevitable winner", it was praised by fellow writer and judge Eimear McBride for its "tenderly devastating exploration of the body as it hangs outside time" and for being "as perfect a short story as I've ever read".

Cynan Jones was presented with the prize of £15,000 on Tuesday 3 October by the 2017 Chair of Judges, Joanna Trollope, at a ceremony held in the BBC’s Radio Theatre in London. The news was announced live on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row, during a special programme celebrating the short story.
Judges' comments

This year’s judging panel was chaired by bestselling author Joanna Trollope and included Baileys Prize winner Eimear McBride, Booker Prize longlisted writer Jon McGregor, Encore Award winner Sunjeev Sahota; and returning judge Di Speirs, Books Editor at BBC Radio 4.

Jon McGregor commented: “'The Edge of the Shoal' does something genuinely thrilling within the confines of the short story: for 6000 words the reader exists only in the lived present moment, in a mental space where life is stripped to its bare essentials. There is no space here for recollection or speculation, no rueful observation or commentary. There are simply the raw bleeding details of survival. It's an exhilarating, terrifying, and life-affirming read. A stunning achievement, and a deserved winner of the prize."

Eimear McBride added: "I've thought about ‘The Edge of the Shoal’ most days since first reading it, months ago. Not the immaculate construction, or modernising take on the 'man versus nature' tale, but its tenderly devastating exploration of the body as it hangs outside time. It is as perfect a short story as I've ever read and works on the reader like an invasion, as all the best literature should."

Di Speirs commented: "In a year which has seen such accomplished novelists shortlisted for their compelling and memorable stories, the searing immediacy of Cynan Jones’s story stands out. "The Edge of the Shoal" is a perfect illustration of the transporting, utterly absorbing power of a great short story."

The four remaining shortlisted writers, Will Eaves, Jenni Fagan, Benjamin Markovits and Helen Oyeyemi will each receive £600.

The five shortlisted stories are available to listen to via Radio 4’s new Short Story podcast

Friday, 29 September 2017

BBC's 4 Day Poetry Festival Kicks Off in Hull

The BBC has launched its 4 day festival of the spoken word - Contains Strong Language.  The festival is being hosted by Hull as part of its cultural celebrations as City of Culture and will be broadcast across the BBC. 

The event has been organised in partnership with Wrecking Ball Press, Humber Mouth, Hull UK City of Culture, The British Council, The Arts Council and a number of other poetry organisations.

Contains Strong Language will present leading local, national, international poets and world class spoken word artists alongside brand new voices. 17 poets will be resident in the city for four days.

The Hull ‘17 are an ensemble of exciting and innovative poets, commissioned to create new work which will be premiered in the city during the festival. 

Poetry is enjoying a renaissance. From moments of national significance to mainstream advertising, poetry is being chosen to persuade, charm or express outrage, defiance and solidarity.

In addition to performances from previously announced Kate Tempest, Dr John Cooper Clarke, The Unthanks, and the BBC Philharmonic, some of the UK’s most-renowned actors will perform some of Hull’s famous poems in a star-studded gala reading.

Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn return to their Hull roots for In Conversation with Simon Armitage, discussing their songs and books, and their years in the city where they formed best-selling band Everything But The Girl.

On the BBC you can watch fantastic new documentaries and live performances on BBC Two and BBC Four. The BBC's radio stations will take audiences to the heart of the festival in Hull with live broadcasts from Jo Whiley, Cerys Matthews, John Wilson, Ian McMillan, Mim Shaikh and more.

On the BBC's website you will also have access to exclusive features, previews, comprehensive schedules and catch-up for all programmes.

Tickets are available to book for many events in Hull, including performances by Kate Tempest, John Cooper Clarke and The Unthanks. Browse the full programme for over 50 events across the four days, most of which have free tickets available from

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Is Your University Fair Trade?

NUS and the Fairtrade Foundation have teamed up to pilot a new Fairtrade Award for Universities and Colleges across the UK.

The new award builds on existing offers, taking on board feedback from the sector in what institutions truly value, as well as what changes and innovations they would like to see.

It will is being piloted by 12 universities and colleges until May 2018, with a view to launching the new award in Jun 2018.

Fairtrade is a grassroots movement that holds a Fairtrade Award across the UK. This new award will celebrate how even more people, including students, are helping to support farmers and workers on Fairtrade farms across the world. Growing awareness of Fairtrade will help build the market for producers, ensuring they receive a fair wage and income in order to improve the futures of their families and communities.

Robbie Young, NUS Vice President (Society and Citizenship), said “We’re seeing an increasing concern from students about their impact to the planet and how the choices they make affect people down the supply chain. The values of Fairtrade are part of the core values of our student movement and we should be proud to celebrate the achievements of students’ unions. Thousands of students and unions have already shown the power and value of Fairtrade but initiatives like this one will provide a platform for further success."

Key differences in the proposed new award are:
  • The introduction of new themes and actions in the award criteria, offering opportunity for deeper engagement across a broader range of areas.  
  • The introduction of tiered award levels to enhance scope for continual improvement and long-term engagement.
  • Scope for recognition of wider ethical sourcing and trade justice efforts beyond Fairtrade certified products.
  • The introduction of an on-site audit, undertaken by trained student auditors through NUS’s highly successful existing student auditor programme.
  • Enhanced support from NUS and Fairtrade: New resources, tools and support to ensure universities and colleges can make the most of their participation and achieve their goals.
  • More scope for measuring impact: Through NUS’ programme of student surveys and database of over 700,000 students, improved monitoring will show the impact the award scheme is having on attitudes, understanding and ethical consumption and sourcing practice in the HE and FE sector.
  • The introduction of award scheme participation fees for universities, (low or no fee for colleges- TBC), to ensure that Fairtrade and NUS can sustainably offer an enhanced award scheme that meets the needs of the sector and provides good value for money.
Once the pilot is complete, an audit will take place in May-June 2018 and participants will receive their Fairtrade Awards. The awards will be launched nationwide from summer 2018. 

Friday, 22 September 2017

A Focus on Equality & Human Rights Essential to Get a Good CQC Rating

The CQC, alongside a number of partners, has published a new good practice resource, Equally Outstanding, exploring how a focus on equality and human rights can help to improve quality of care.

Using case studies from the NHS, adult social care and primary medical services, it looks at how services rated outstanding by the CQC have prioritised equality and human rights and the positive effects this has had on quality of care and staff engagement. This resource also helps set out the ‘business case’ for equality and human rights at a time when the whole health and care system faces significant financial challenges.

Paul Corrigan, CQC Non-Executive Director and Board Equality and Human Rights Champion, said "When finances are squeezed, it may seem tempting to view work on equality and human rights as an expendable extra – when in fact it makes both ethical and business sense for this work to be more central than ever.

"There’s a clear link between the quality of care a service provides and whether the people who use it and its staff feel that their human rights are respected and they are treated equally. And equality and human rights will only become more important over time because of demographic and system change; research shows that money spent on reducing health inequalities is the most efficient way of improving health outcomes for a local population.

"We have developed – and will continue to develop - this work both as a practical resource that people can use within their own organisation to make the case for an increased focus on equality and human rights and to learn from providers that have used these approaches. More broadly, we hope it encourages health and social care leaders to look beyond provider boundaries to ensure the community involvement of people from diverse communities and develop broader, more holistic services that meet their needs."

Human rights principles of fairness, respect, equality, dignity and autonomy should be at the heart of good care provision .  Evidence points to a clear link between quality of care and whether people who use services feel their human rights are respected and they are treated equally:
  • In the 2015 NHS Inpatient Survey, patients receiving care from Trusts rated outstanding were more likely to say that they were treated with dignity and respect in hospital and had the emotional support that they needed.  Their overall satisfaction with their hospital stay was also higher and patients at outstanding trusts who identify as lesbian or gay were more likely to give positive responses to all three questions than heterosexual patients - the reverse is true in Trusts not rated outstanding.
  • In the CQC’s acute NHS hospital inspection reports, the proportion of positive comments made about the quality of care for people with a learning disability increased in line with the Trust’s rating.
  • Seventy-five per cent of hospices rated as outstanding had carried out some work on equality for disabled people, but only 55% of other hospices had done so. Eighty-eight per cent of hospices rated as outstanding had carried out some work around equality for people of different religions and beliefs compared to 65% of lower-rated hospices.
  • Looking at 14,000 adult social care “provider information returns”, services rated good or outstanding were more likely have undertaken some specific work on equality in the past 12 months.
There is also a link between whether staff feel they are treated equally and with respect and the quality of patient care provided:
  • CQC analysis of NHS trusts' ratings shows that staff in acute or combined trust with higher ratings are less likely to say they have experienced discrimination, bullying or harassment.
  • Research looking at the NHS staff survey and inpatient survey found that where Black and Minority Ethnic staff experienced discrimination, there tended to be lower levels of patient satisfaction.
  • Though there has been less work on this topic in primary care and adult social care, the case studies in Equally Outstanding show that the basic principle holds true – where organisations value and support staff equally, this will help lead to better care.
  • Equally, a care setting where staff do not feel valued and respected is more likely to experience absenteeism, high staff turnover and recruitment problems – with implications for both care quality and finances.
The resource describes some common “success factors” in the case study organisations that have used equality and human rights to deliver outstanding care. These include:
  • a leadership committed to equality and human rights
  • applying “equality and human rights thinking” to quality improvement
  • developing a culture of staff equality where staff are improvement partners in this work
  • listening carefully to people using their service, including to their aspirations
  • being courageous in their approaches to tackling difficult issues
  • and making external links to help them progress their work.
Download a copy of Equally Outstanding by clicking here.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Awards with UK's Biggest Author Prize Fund Open for Entries

The Society of Authors is inviting entries for its 2018 Authors’ Awards. Run by authors for authors, the prizes make up the UK’s biggest literary prize fund.
There are five awards to apply from, three of which celebrate younger authors.

Five awards

All entry forms can be found online, along with eligibility criteria and instructions on how to submit your work to each award.
Betty Trask Prize and Awards
For a first novel by a writer under 35.
Past winners include Zadie Smith, David Szalay, Hari Kunzru and Sarah Waters. Total prize and award fund at least £20,000.
Eric Gregory Awards
For a collection of poems by a poet under 30.
Past winners include Carol Ann Duffy, Tom Chivers, Helen Mort and Alan Hollinghurst. Total award fund £20,000.

McKitterick Prize
For a first novel by a writer over 40.
Past winners include Helen Dunmore, Mark Haddon and Petinah Gappah. Total prize fund £5,000.

Somerset Maugham Awards
For published works of fiction, non-fiction or poetry by writers under 35, to enable young writers to enrich their work by gaining experience of foreign countries.
Past winners include Hari Kunzru, Helen Oyeyemi, Julian Barnes, Zadie Smith and Jonathan Freedland. Total prize fund £10,000.
    Tom-Gallon Trust Award
    For a short story by a writer who has had at least one short story accepted for publication. Total award fund £1,500.

    The Eric Gregory Awards, McKitterick Prize and Tom-Gallon Trust Award are open for entries until 31 October. The deadline for entries to the Betty Trask Prize and Awards and the Somerset Maugham Awards is 30 November.

    You can find out more about these prizes by clicking on the titles above.

    Tuesday, 19 September 2017

    Exceptional Leadership and a Passion for Caring Leads to CQC Awarding Outstanding Rating

    The Care Quality Commission has found the quality of care provided by Risby Park Nursing Home, to be Outstanding following an inspection in July.

    Risby Park Nursing Home is run by The Partnership In Care Ltd and provides accommodation, nursing and personal care for up to 54 older people.

    Risby Park Nursing Home was rated Outstanding for being caring, well-led and responsive and Good for being effective and safe.

    Report Highlights
    • The registered manager is a highly skilled leader who has clear oversight of the home and a passion for delivering the very best of care to people.
    • Staff understand the needs and preferences of the people they care for and people are given reassurance and encouragement when they need it.
    • Staff go the extra mile to ensure people have their care needs met in the way they want.
    • There are extremely effective quality monitoring processes in place which cover all areas of the home and care delivered.
    • Staff morale in the home is extremely high and staff  are proud to work there. They were remarkably enthusiastic and passionate about delivering high-quality care.
    Rob Assall-Marsden, CQC’s Head of Inspection for Adult Social Care in the central region said “Our inspection team were really impressed by the level of care and support offered to people living at Risby Park Nursing Home."

    “Extremely caring and compassionate relationships had been cultivated between people and staff."

    “All of this meant people received a high standard of care, which is why it has been rated Outstanding.”

    Friday, 15 September 2017

    Celebrate National 4pm Finish Day Today!

    Today, Friday 15th September is the National 4pm Finish Day!

    The brains behind the scheme are the folk at Red Bull, who devised it to promote productivity and working smart rather than working long hours.

    It has been so successful that many offices have started finishing at 4pm every Friday, harking back to the good old days when all offices closed early on a Friday to give office workers a head start on the weekend.

    If you need convincing that this is a good thing, it has been scientifically proven that employees who work six hour days get just as much work done as 9 to 5’ers - honest!

    If you are an owner of a small business and want to get in your staff’s good books, honour National 4pm Finish Day and let them out early. It will also give them an incentive to work harder to get out on time!

    Thursday, 14 September 2017

    CQC to Begin Inspecting and Rating Independent Healthcare Providers

    The Department of Health has confirmed that it will grant the CQC the power to be able to rate independent healthcare providers, including cosmetic surgery, substance misuse and termination of pregnancy clinics for the first time.  Giving people clear and accessible information about even more of their care services.

    The CQC already rates NHS and independent hospitals, general practices and adult social care services and will now also award rating to the following services:
    • cosmetic surgery services (some types)
    • independent ambulance services
    • independent dialysis services
    • refractive eye surgery services
    • substance misuse services
    • termination of pregnancy services
    The form these inspections will take and rating system will consulted on in the new year.

    The Department of Health has also launched a new consultation on proposals to a further increase our powers to award ratings to all other registered providers, including independent community health services and independent doctors. This consultation will run for eight weeks and will close on 6 November 2017.

    Sir David Behan, Chief Executive of the Care Quality Commission, said: “CQC’s ratings of health and care services are helping people to make informed choices about their care as well as supporting providers to improve - never before has the public had such clear information about the quality and safety of their health and care services.

    “CQC already inspects and publishes reports for these providers and the ability to award a rating will bring increased transparency for the public about the quality and safety of these services.

    “We also welcome the Government’s longer term proposals to extend our ability to award ratings to even more services and we look forward to the outcome of the consultation they have launched today.”

    Wednesday, 6 September 2017

    Universities Pledge to do More to Improve Mental Health and Wellbeing of Students

    Universities UK has published a new framework aimed at improving the mental health and well-being of university students studying in the UK.

    The Step Change framework ­is aimed at supporting university leaders, embedding good mental health practice across all university activities.

    The framework recommends that:
    • Universities work closely with the NHS to consider how mental health care services should be commissioned and delivered to student populations. Working in close partnership with parents, schools and colleges, as well as with employers and businesses.
    • Students and staff are encouraged to talk about mental health without fear of stigmatization.
    • Staff and students know how to support others suffering from poor mental-health and access support for themselves, both within their university and the wider community.
    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 said: "Mental health matters to universities. University leaders care about their students and staff. We want to help them to thrive and succeed as well as to support them through mental health challenges.

    "We can be proud of the work that higher education institutions do on mental health, the services they provide, the impact they have on those in distress or difficulties. We want to capture these positive activities, but also ensure that our response to this growing challenge is the right one."

    "This framework is about getting universities to think about mental health and wellbeing across all their activities and people. From students to academics and support staff. From teaching and research to accommodation and relations with local communities. The step change in student mental health begins here."

    Find out more about the framework at or search #stepchange on social media.

    Thursday, 31 August 2017

    Financial Support to Help You Finish Writing Your Book

    The Society of Authors is one of only a few organisations which makes grants to writers for works in progress.

    The Authors’ Foundation and K Blundell Trust award grants twice yearly to assist with research costs or give authors valuable time to complete work.

    The deadline for grant applications this autumn is the 30th September.

    Applications need to be made by letter with the necessary enclosures - you can find out more by clicking here.

    About The Authors' Foundation

    The Authors’ Foundation was set up from donations by authors in 1984 and gives grants of up to £6,000 to authors who are currently working on a project and have, or are likely to have, interest from a British publisher.

    All applicants will also be considered automatically for specific grants offering funding for writing in the fields of biography about women, the environment and natural history, philanthropy, poetry, racial understanding, Scandinavia, science fiction, fantasy and magic realism (open to adult and children’s writers), spy thrillers and crime.

    About The K Blundell Trust

    The K Blundell Trust gives grants of up to £6,000 to British authors under the age of 40 whose work aims to increase social awareness. The project can be fiction or non-fiction.

    New Grants/Awards for 2017

    In addition to these established awards and grants two new grants have been added to those offered by the Trust this year. The Eric Ambler Awards, offered in memory of the spy thriller writer, and for the Antonia Fraser Grants, open to any writer, offering two grants of £3,000 per year for a biography of a woman or women.

    All applicants for K Blundell and Author Foundation grants will automatically be entered for consideration in these new awards.

    Antonia Fraser, one of the Authors’ Foundation’s original trustees, will be retiring from her role this year and commented on her decision to set up the Antonia Fraser Grants: ‘The Antonia Fraser Grants are inspired by my own lifelong interest in women's history and a wish to encourage others to share it. Not only biographies of individual women will be eligible, but also studies of women in more general terms. I have written both myself, starting for example with Mary Queen of Scots in 1969, and then moving to The Weaker Vessel: Woman's Lot in 17th century England in 1984, ending with a group biography of Louis XIV's ladies in 2006."

    "I believe strongly in the biographical approach to history which was after all created by individuals, and above all hope that applicants for an A.F.G will experience the same mixture of excitement and discovery in the course of their researches, as I have done."

    "As one of the founding Trustees of the Author's Foundation, it gives me special pleasure to support its work in this way: to mark my withdrawal from active involvement after 33 years."

    Wednesday, 30 August 2017

    Hospice Placed Into Special Measures by CQC After Three Damming Inspections

    The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has placed St Joseph’s Hospice in Sefton, Merseyside into special measures following an inspection in July.

    The hospice in Ince Road, Thornton, provides care and support for people with progressive, degenerative conditions and for people with brain injury and terminal illness. The hospice also provides end of life care and support to terminally ill people and their families. There were 25 people using their services at the time of inspection.

    The CQC has placed conditions on the hospice’s registration including preventing further admissions until the provider can demonstrate significant improvement.

    Inspectors found:
    • Concerns around the way some medicines were administered and recorded which placed people at high risk of harm.
    • That the hospice did not always provide effective assessment and monitoring of pain.
    • Although people reported positive experiences, there were examples of care where people's privacy and dignity were not being respected.
    • That staff did not always follow the principles of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 when people were unable to give consent.
    Debbie Westhead, Deputy Chief Inspector for Adult Social Care, said “People are entitled to services providing safe, effective, responsive and high quality care. We found that St Joseph’s Hospice, although providing a highly-valued service, was falling short of the standards that are required.

    “It is a matter of concern that on three successive inspections we have identified significant areas for improvement. At this latest inspection in July, we found some of the same safety issues remained, but we also found fresh concerns.

    “We have now taken action to ensure there are no further admissions until these matters are dealt with properly. A period in special measures will allow the hospice to seek the support it needs to address our concerns and protect the people in their care. We are working closely with partners including clinical commissioning groups to ensure people’s safety.”

    Tuesday, 22 August 2017

    Over 450,000 Students Offered Full-Time University Places for 2017

    As of midnight on the 21st August a total of 461,860 people have secured a place on a full-time university course through UCAS.

    45,550 people had their university and college places confirmed since 08:00 on A level results day.

    Of the total, around 33,750 people have been accepted through Clearing at this point, a rise of 1% on the same stage last year.

    The Clearing total is made up of 28,270 people placed after applying through the main UCAS scheme, as well as 5,480 who applied directly through Clearing after the 30 June deadline. An additional 8,440 people who applied directly to Clearing are yet to be placed.

    The final date for applications this year is 20 September. Applicants can then add Clearing choices until 23 October, if they choose to.

    Students who would like advice about the range of options available can call the Exam Results Helpline on 0808 100 8000.

    Wednesday, 16 August 2017

    GP Surgery Threatened With Closure After Two Damming CQC Reports

    A GP practice in the London Borough of Harrow, previously rated Inadequate by the Care Quality Commission has not improved. It could now face closure if there are not urgent improvements.

    The Stanmore Surgery in Elm Park, Stanmore, was rated Inadequate overall. It was rated Inadequate for being safe, effective and well-led. It was rated Requires Improvement for being caring and responsive, following the latest inspection in June 2017.

    Inspectors found that some incidents that had occurred had not been recorded and investigated as significant events.

    Risks to patients were not assessed or managed and outcomes for patients were not improving. Patient outcomes were hard to identify and there was no evidence the practice was comparing its performance to others either locally or nationally.

    The practice must now:
    • Ensure care and treatment is provided in a safe way to patients.
    • Ensure appropriate standards of hygiene for premises and equipment.
    • Ensure effective systems and processes are in place to provide good governance in accordance with the fundamental standards of care.
    • Develop a system that obtains patient views on improving the service.
    • Provide information advising patients about translation services.

    Professor Ursula Gallagher, CQC Deputy Chief Inspector of GP Practices, said “I am extremely concerned that The Stanmore Surgery has failed to address a number of issues since our previous inspection. This service was placed in special measures in May 2016."

    “Insufficient improvements have been made such that there remains a rating of inadequate for safe, effective and well led categories. Therefore we are taking action in line with our enforcement procedures to begin the process of preventing the provider from operating the service. This will lead to cancelling their registration or to varying the terms of their registration within six months if they do not improve.”

    Friday, 11 August 2017

    Society of Authors Calls on Publishers to Look Again at Pricing Practices

    The Society of Authors has written an open letter to publishers raising concerns over pricing practices and the damage they can have on authors earnings.

    The society's president is Philip Pullman, OBE and other high profile writers on the society's council include Malorie Blackman, Hilary Mantel and Alan Ayckbourn. The SoA acts as a trade union for writers and illustrators at all stages of their careers. Members receive unlimited free advice on all aspects of the profession, including confidential clause-by-clause contract vetting.  They administer grants and prizes to support authors and campaign and lobby on issues that affect authors.

    Dear publishers,

    Please reassure authors by taking seven simple steps to ensure that special sales do not damage authors’ overall earnings or the market for full-price sales.

    What are we talking about? This is not about ordinary high discounts, such as those demanded by Amazon (although those cause concern to authors and booksellers), but about sales where the purchaser pays a very low price per copy for a large quantity of copies, paying up-front and “firm” for all those copies. Such deals appear in contracts under a variety of clauses, including as bulk sales or ultra-high discounts, book club and similar, coedition, special, premium, mail order, own brand, sales at discounts of 80% or more, supermarket, cheap editions and remaindering. They can also include non-traditional retail outlets, which covers outlets such as museum shops, cafés and high-street retail chains, which we know are becoming an increasingly significant market for certain publications, including craft, cookery and art books.

    We do appreciate that knowing at the outset that such payment is guaranteed, and factoring in economies of scale, can affect the publisher’s budgeting decisions, particularly with highly illustrated works which remain disproportionately expensive to produce. We know that such deals can reach purchasers who would not buy the book full price and can be useful for books that have been selling poorly. They can also give a boost to an author’s backlist titles in the wake of publication of a new title, or promote a special edition. Publishers tell us that they do not believe that such sales compete with full-price sales.
    So what’s the problem?

    Our first concern is competition. The huge discounts offered on these books, and the fact that the purchaser has bought them “firm”, so will want a way to dispose of surplus copies, mean that they can be sold on for a very low price. The internet has changed the way we buy books, and cheap copies, which used to be sold to discrete markets, can end up competing directly with conventional titles. The sale of discounted books on Amazon Marketplace is a major concern, since they will be listed alongside full-price copies. This will be exacerbated if Amazon brings the US initiative of winning the Buy Box [whereby third-party resellers compete for the button that purchasers press first to select a product for purchase] to the UK: a conventional, full royalty-bearing sale could be demoted to promote a highly discounted or pristine second-hand copy. Publishers argue that for Prime customers, who benefit from free delivery, alternative routes can prove more expensive than buying from Amazon; but a cursory view shows that for a wide selection of books, particularly paperbacks or backlist titles, it is still cheaper to buy from a third-party. Only copies which, theoretically at least, are legitimately available appear on Amazon: so where are all these cheap books coming from? It is clear some heavily discounted titles intended for export or book clubs are being leaked onto Amazon Marketplace. Paperback copies are usually available on Amazon from other sellers well before they are available from the publishers, often on publication of the hardback. Authors receive very low royalty rates on such sales, much less than on a full-priced home market sale of the book. On second-hand copies, e.g. the resale of special copies and remainders, neither author nor publisher earns anything, but such sales can cannibalise “proper” ones.
    The art of the deal

    Of course publishers have no control over the price at which a book is sold to the customer (except where they use the Agency Model). And no matter what a publisher might say to a customer about market restrictions, once they’ve made a sale in the EU, no publisher can prevent them from re-selling the books (due to the “exhaustion of rights” in the EU). For that reason, we would urge publishers to exercise caution. All such deals should be considered carefully. Don’t supply books at an ultra-high discount, unless the author and the publisher agree that the deal is worth it. Deals about which we have heard regular complaints over the years include partial remaindering (notably the tail-end of the hardback run in anticipation of paperback launch), covermounts or book club loss-leaders (e.g. a romantic novelist’s one and only title being used as a giveaway to promote a wider romantic list) and—the most prevalent—special deals being permitted at the peak of a title’s life. The children’s market seems to be especially subject to special deals.

    There are other concerns too. Contract terms on special sales can be hard on authors. Special sales income is usually based on money received by the publisher, not cover price, so authors can earn far less. In some contracts where royalties are based on net receipts, the percentage rate payable to the author reduces when the discount increases. That is simply illogical.

    And it isn’t always clear that a large proportion of an author’s sales will be at discounted rates rather than the headline rates in the agreement.

    Authors’ profiles can suffer too. If an author is associated too often with bargain books it can damage their brand. And special sales are not recorded by Nielsen BookScan, so they don’t appear in official sales figures. The same is true of publisher records: special sales will be described as subsidiary licensing with sales statements detailing income paid and not the number of units sold, leading to underestimates of how many copies have sold. But publishers consider previous sales when deciding whether to commission another book. In one case, a publisher lost a TV deal because it could only prove 500,000 trade sales from its records, whereas it had earlier (more accurately) claimed that the series had sold over a million copies.

    High street bookshops, wholesalers and distributors cannot compete with low-priced sales and may decline to stock these works. And seeing books for sale so cheaply can damage the perceived value of books and the price that readers expect to pay for them. This was less glaring when special sales editions were branded, of a cheaper quality, had different jackets and were clearly destined for a different market. These days they are often indistinguishable from full-price editions.
    The seven steps
    • Consult and involve
    Publishers should give the author a right of approval over every special sales deal (even if the current contract does not include such a right). Discounting is sometimes a valid strategy and publishers risk losing as much as the author if deals cannibalise conventional sales. But an author usually only has a handful of books from which to earn, while publishers have many, so an author is more at risk if the strategy does not work. authors may also have more than one publisher, so have a broader view of the overall sales picture. A publisher should always explain the reasons why it wants to do a deal, the likely receipts for the publisher and author, and the likely impact on traditional sales. Hachette has already given us an assurance that it will always consult authors and seek permission before entering into special sales.

    • Inform
    When negotiating the contract, tell the author which royalty clauses you anticipate affecting a significant quantity of sales in the first couple of years. Without such explanation, contracts can be extremely misleading.

    • Share the hit
    If the author’s royalties are based on net receipts, the percentage rate payable should not be reduced when the discount increases.

    • Protect
    Take steps to ensure that books are only sold in the channels for which they are intended and do not leak back to full-price outlets, particularly on Amazon. Give a separate ISBN to each special sales edition, and add appropriate restrictions, where lawful, to make the books traceable and non-returnable. Hachette has agreed to this.

    • Differentiate
    Differentiate special sales editions from the full-price edition. If they are cheaper, the quality should not be as high. This will help protect bookshops and other full-price outlets.

    • Monitor
    Monitor closely and follow up suspicious sales on Amazon. Stop selling to purchasers who leak books.

    • Record
    Include special sales figures in your records of a work’s lifetime sales. Tell authors the size of print runs. Join us in encouraging Nielsen Bookscan to record special sales alongside traditional sales.

    We urge every publisher to contact the SoA and openly agree to the seven steps. This will help authors, publishers and booksellers maintain the best prices for books, reduce unfair competition, reward authors appropriately and maximise sales revenues.

    Thursday, 10 August 2017

    National Student Survey Results Show Students are Happier Than Ever!

    HEFCE has published the results of the 2017 National Student Survey. Over 300,000 final-year students took part in the survey, around 68 per cent of those eligible. Of these, 84 per cent were satisfied with the overall quality of their courses.

    Student satisfaction with teaching is high, with 85 per cent of students agreeing that teaching staff are good at explaining things and make the subject interesting, and that they are intellectually stimulated and challenged to achieve their best work.

    84 per cent of students agree that they are provided with learning opportunities such as exploring ideas in depth and applying what they have learnt. Some 77 per cent agree that they feel part of a learning community and have the right opportunities to work with other students.

    Professor Sir David Bell, Chair of the Student Information Advisory Group, said ‘These excellent results show that our universities and colleges continue to offer a high-quality experience for their students. The National Student Survey is instrumental in driving improvements across an increasingly diverse higher education sector. It also plays a key role in supporting student choice. The revised survey which has been run in 2017 offers new insights on student engagement, a crucial component of a successful experience in higher education.’

    A summary table of results for the UK is shown below. More detailed data is available through the HEFCE website. Prospective students will be able to compare NSS results and other relevant information on the Unistats website from September.

    Percentage of students who selected 'definitely' or 'mostly agree' on the survey

    The teaching on my course 85%
    Learning opportunities 84%
    Assessment and feedback 73%
    Academic support 80%
    Organisation and management 75%
    Learning resources 85%
    Learning community 77%
    Student voice 73%
    Student union 57%

    Responding to the survey NUS Vice President (Higher Education) Amatey Doku said “The government wanted to use today’s NSS results to allow universities which scored highly to raise fees from £9,000 to over £10,000 by 2020 as part of their draconian reforms to higher education.
    "Our membership made it clear to us that they found this unacceptable and demanded we campaign to sever any link between their crude Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) and a rise in tuition fees which would hit students hard."

    "Figures released today demonstrate just how easily this data can be skewed and how unreliable they are as a measure of teaching quality within this framework. This serves as a reminder that students are opposed to soaring tuition fees and are ready to use their power to challenge any ill-thought changes to the sector which will ultimately see them losing out."

    "The government has promised a complete independent review of the TEF and we look forward to contributing to that process, putting forward a positive vision of what students actually think teaching excellence looks like and crucially, severing the link with TEF and higher fees. However this is not enough, NUS is asking for a comprehensive review of the student finance system in its totality. Currently students from the poorest 40% of families are emerging with the highest debts of £57,000.”

    Thursday, 3 August 2017

    CQC Issues Urgent Suspension of GP's Providers Registration

    A GP practice in Rainham has been rated as Inadequate overall by the Care Quality Commission and an urgent suspension of the provider's registration has been made to enable the provider to take action to improve while removing patients from the risk of harm. A caretaker practice has been identified by NHS England to provide care and treatment to patients at the practice during this period.

    Spring Farm Surgery in Upminster Road North in the London Borough of Havering, has been rated Inadequate for being safe, caring and well-led. It was rated Requires Improvement for being effective and responsive following the inspection in May 2017.

    Inspectors found:
    • There was no evidence of learning and communication with staff.
    • The practice had failed to adequately review its ability to respond effectively in the event of an emergency or mitigate any risks associated with the absence of oxygen, adequate supplies of emergency medicine and a defibrillator.
    • The practice failed to mitigate the risks associated with fire. There was no testing of fire alarms or fire drills. Electrical safety checks had not been carried out on portable equipment.
    • Staff undertaking chaperone duties had not been trained. Also, the practice could not demonstrate that all staff had received mandatory training such as fire safety, basic life support, infection control and information governance. Appropriate recruitment checks had not always been undertaken prior to employment.
    • The practice did not have a patient participation group. However, patients were positive about their interactions with most staff and said they were treated with compassion and dignity.
    Included in actions the practice must now take are:
    • Review the system for reporting, recording and sharing learning from significant events.
    • Ensure sufficient quantities of equipment or medicines to ensure the safety of patients and to meet their needs.
    • Ensure persons employed for the purposes of carrying on a regulated activity are of good character including by carrying out appropriate pre-employment checks for all staff.
    • Ensure learning from complaints is discussed, analysed and shared for the purposes of evaluating and improving the practice.
    • Ensure effective systems and processes are in place at the practice, in particular regarding vision and strategy, governance, staffing, practice policies, performance awareness, quality improvement, risk management and leadership.
    • Provide staff with appropriate support and training to carry out their duties.
    • Improve processes to support the seeking and acting on of feedback from relevant persons, including a patient participation group.
    The areas where the provider should make improvement also include:
    • Reviewing how patients with caring responsibilities are identified and recorded on the clinical system to ensure information, advice and support is made available to them. 
    • Consideing how to assist patients with a hearing impairment accessing the service.
    Professor Ursula Gallagher, CQC Deputy Chief Inspector of GP Practices, said “It is always disappointing when we find ourselves in a position of having to take urgent action. This is particularly the case when patients essentially believe the care they have been receiving is safe and effective. By suspending the provider’s registration we are giving them the opportunity to improve the service and in time have their registration reinstated.”

    Wednesday, 2 August 2017

    More Help For New SMEs Completing Their Tax Returns

    A new online tax forum and dedicated webchat service for small businesses and the self-employed has been launched by HMRC.

    The Small Business Online Forum is a quick and easy way for small businesses to get answers to their tax questions, as well as help with:
    • starting a business
    • support for growing a business – including taking on employees and expanding
    • buying and selling abroad
    • completing tax returns
    • tax credits
    Linked to the forum, HMRC’s new dedicated webchat service offers direct support to businesses and the self-employed and HMRC advisors will moderate the forum between 9-5pm Monday to Friday.

    Mel Stride, Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster General, said: "We want to help businesses get off the ground and support them as they grow. That is why we are launching a new forum and webchat service which will give these companies useful hints and tips – including how to complete tax returns, grow a business and trade outside the UK".

    Tuesday, 25 July 2017

    SMEs Below VAT Threshold to be Exempt From Making Tax Digital

    The government have announced changes to their Making Tax Digital programme, designed to see all businesses using IT to keep their tax records upto date in real time.

    Following pressure from SMEs about the pace and scale of change the government has announced that the roll out for Making Tax Digital for Business will be amended to ensure businesses have plenty of time to adapt to the changes.

    Businesses will not now be mandated to use the Making Tax Digital for Business system until April 2019 and then only to meet their VAT obligations. This will apply to businesses who have a turnover above the VAT threshold - the smallest businesses will not be required to use the system, although they can choose to do so voluntarily.

    This change means that no business will need to provide information to HMRC under Making Tax Digital for business more regularly than they do now. VAT has been online since 2010 and over 98% of VAT registered businesses already file electronic returns.

    Making Tax Digital will build on this by integrating digital record-keeping to provide a single, seamless process with quarterly updates generated and sent direct from the software the business/agent uses to keep their records.

    The government has committed that it will not widen the scope of Making Tax Digital for Business beyond VAT before the system has been shown to work well, and not before April 2020 at the earliest. This will ensure that there is time to test the system fully and for digital record keeping to become more widespread.

    Mike Cherry, Federation of Small Business (FSB) National Chairman, said "This is a positive decision, and will be a real lifeline for small firms already facing a hugely challenging economic climate. Thanks to the Chancellor’s intervention, they will only fall into scope when ready to do so.

    “Today’s announcement promises to make the rollout of the programme far more manageable for all of the nation’s small firms.

    “We look forward to receiving more detail from the Treasury on requirements for those small firms above the threshold that will have to comply from 2019. We will continue to work together on how we can best support these businesses as well as those that voluntarily opt into the programme over the coming years.”

    Tuesday, 18 July 2017

    CQC Places Kent GP Practice in Special Measures

    CQC inspectors have placed Dr K E Wilcox and Partners (also known as The Medical Centre), in London Road, Sittingbourne, Kent into Special Measures following an inspection in March 2017.

    Inspectors rated the service as Inadequate for being well-led and safe and Requires Improvement for being effective and Good for being caring and responsive to people’s needs.

    Key Findings:

    • There was a system for reporting and recording significant events. However, not all staff understood what constituted an incident or near miss. 
    • Risks to patients were not always assessed and well managed. For example, those relating to recruitment checks. 
    • The practice was unable to demonstrate that there was an effective system for receiving and acting on medicines alerts from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. 
    • The practice did not have an adequate supply of medicines and equipment to respond to medical emergencies in line with national guidance. 
    • The practice was unable to demonstrate that it had a system to track the use of blank prescription forms throughout the practice. 
    • Data showed patient outcomes were low compared to the national average. Although some audits had been carried out, we saw no evidence that audits were driving improvements to patient outcomes.
    • The practice was unable to demonstrate that all staff had received sufficient training to enable them to carry out their roles effectively, and staff did not have regular appraisals. 
    • The practice had insufficient leadership capacity and limited formal governance arrangements.

    Ruth Rankine, Deputy Chief Inspector of General Practice CQC’s South region said: “Our inspectors had previously carried out an inspection at the Medical Centre in June 2015 and this new inspection was to follow up on our initial concerns and focus on the work the practice had carried out since that first visit."

    “It is worrying that despite the concerns identified at that first inspection, our team found a further decline in the standards and a number of additional concerns. Patients were at risk of harm because systems currently in place were not embedded well enough to keep them safe. For example, not all staff understood what constituted an incident or near miss, leaving patients at risk of being unsafe."

    “With this in mind we had no option but to place the practice into special measures. We will re-inspect the practice within six months to check whether sufficient improvements have been made. If we find that the service provided by this surgery remains inadequate, we will consider further action."

    Thursday, 13 July 2017

    UCAS University Applications Down

    UCAS has published figures for university applications made this year. UK applications are down 4% and EU applications are down 5%.

    The number of people who have applied to UK higher education courses for 2017 is 649,700, approx 25,000 fewer than at this point last year.

    The Numbers by Location

    • 529,620 UK applicants (a decrease of 4% compared to this point last year)
    • 49,250 EU applicants (a decrease of 5%)
    • 70,830 applicants from other overseas countries (an increase of 2%).

    Focusing on UK Applications

    • UK: 437,860 from England (a decrease of 5% on 2016) 
    • 48,940 from Scotland (down 1% on 2016) 
    • 22,530 from Wales (down 5% on 2016)
    • 20,290 from Northern Ireland (down 4% on 2016). 

    By Age Group

    • There are around 321,950 18-year-old applicants, an increase of 1,510 on last year. 
    • There were 315,200 applicants at the deadline aged 19 or older (a decrease of 27,180 on last year). 

    Focus on Nursing

    There are additional statistics on applicants to nursing courses. Overall, there are 53,010 applicants to nursing courses, representing a decrease of 19% compared to this point last year. 

    Responding to the publication of the figures, Dame Julia Goodfellow, President of Universities UK and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Kent, said: "These figures confirm what we know already from UCAS about application figures for this year. There are several possible reasons behind the drop in numbers. Last year was a record high for applications and, factors such as Brexit and changes to the way degrees in nursing, midwifery and some other allied health professions in England are funded, could also be having an impact. There has also been a fall in the number of 18 and 19 year olds across the UK population since 2010. This group makes up over half of all UK applicants to universities. The rate of applications from this age group, however, is at record levels, highlighting continued demand for university courses.

    "We recognise there are a number of issues to address. Continuing to communicate to European applicants that they are welcome and enrich our education system is important. The decline in part-time and mature student entrants must also be addressed. We recognise also the concern about the total cost of going to university. Any analysis needs to cover the cost of maintenance and the interest rate on the loans."

    NUS President Shakira Martin said: “These figures are further evidence that the government urgently needs to review the education funding system. Some have claimed that rising fees and the lack of proper financial support for students have not deterred people from attending University. Clearly, this is completely untrue.

    We can see that there is a drop of 9% in Black and Ethnic Minority applicants: a group which have consistently shown to be more debt averse and therefore more likely to be put off by student fees. The sharp drop in mature students also highlights how completely unaffordable University is for many: applicants over 18 are less likely to be supported by their parents, more likely to have their own financial and caring responsibilities, and are more likely to be aware of the risks of taking on huge amounts of debt.

    The most horrifying figure released today is the 19% drop in nursing applicants. That this huge drop follows cuts to nursing bursaries is no surprise. What is surprising is that the government could not foresee the catastrophic effect that these cuts would have. Traditionally, 50% of nursing students are parents. When students are put in a position which essentially forces them to live in poverty while completing their studies, it is unsurprising that those with children feel unable to take part.

    The education funding system is not working, and as applicant numbers continue to drop the government needs to wake up to the reality that if we don’t review the system now, we will have to pay a huge price a few years down the line.”

    Wednesday, 12 July 2017

    Welsh Students to Get the Equivalent of National Living Wage When Studying

    Welsh Education Secretary Kirsty Williams has confirmed that students from Wales will receive the equivalent of the National Living Wage while they study.

    From 2018/19, Wales will be the first country in Europe to introduce equivalent maintenance support across full-time and part-time undergraduates, as well as post-graduates.

    Government estimates show that a third of full-time students will receive the maximum grant, which is £8,100 for a student living away from home.

    The average household income for a student in the current system is around £25,000. Under the new system such a student will receive around £7,000 a year as a non-repayable grant.

    Part-time students will receive parity of support for maintenance costs on a pro-rata basis. Students will be supported through a mix of grants and loans equivalent to the National Living Wage.

    Speaking in the Assembly chamber, the Cabinet Secretary also confirmed that in 2018/19 there will be a return to the pre-2012 policy of an inflation-linked maximum tuition fee level. This will be in place for the next three academic years. This follows Universities Wales’s confirmation that all Welsh universities will become Real Living Wage employers. They have also confirmed that they will sign-up to the Government’s Code of Practice: Ethical Employment in Supply Chains.

    Kirsty Williams said:  “It is now widely recognised that high living costs are the greatest barrier to young people studying at university. Our new progressive system is a fundamental shift in the way we support students and our institutions.

    “By investing in the success of full-time, part-time and post-graduate students, Wales will be the only country in Europe to have taken this huge step forward.

    “Having confirmed that students will receive support equivalent to the National Living Wage, I welcome Universities Wales’ announcement that all Welsh universities will become living wage employers. We can be proud that Wales’ sector will be the first in the UK to achieve this.”

    CQC Takes Legal Action Against Cumbrian Care Home

    Beacon Edge Care Home, a residential care home in Penrith, Cumbria has been rated as Inadequate by the CQC for the second time as a result of breaches of the Health and Social Care Act (2008).  The CQC has now decided to take legal action against the home.

    Beacon Edge Care Home, is run by Bupa Care Homes (CFChomes) Limited and provides personal care for older people, some of who may be living with a dementia. At the time of the inspection 24 people were using this service.

    Key Findings:

    • There were too many unexplained falls and injuries for a unit of this type and size.
    • Risk assessments relating to falls were not being reviewed and updated.
    • Medications prescribed by doctors were not always being administered.
    • People were not always supported to have maximum choice and control of their lives but staff did try to support them in the least restrictive ways.
    • Nutritional assessments, monitoring and record keeping were poorly managed.
    • Inspectors observed that people did not always receive dignified care.
    • Where advice had been sought from health care professionals, this had not been followed with any consistency.
    • An action plan had been developed to help bring about improvements, but these had not been implemented with any urgency.
    Commenting on the action Debbie Westhead, CQC’s Deputy Chief Inspector for Adult Social Care, said “We found six breaches in regulation at our previous inspection and disappointingly found limited progress has been made in addressing these despite us telling Beacon Edge Care Home where they must improve."

    “It was very concerning that risk assessments relating to falls were still not being reviewed and updated consistently. We found that people using the service continued to experience avoidable falls, and unexplained bruising and injuries which is unacceptable."

    “People were also not always receiving their medicines as their doctor had prescribed them putting them at risk."

    “We are working with local partners including Cumbria County Council to ensure the safety of people using this service.”

    The full report from the inspection can be found on the CQC's website.

    Monday, 10 July 2017

    Pitches Versus Outlines - A Guide to Scriptwriting Terms

    Any aspiring screenwriter needs to get to grips with jargon if they are going to get on.

    Different interpretations of your work are required at each stage of the selling and development process - you don't need to start with, and submit, a finished script - in fact if you do, your work is likely to go to the bottom of the pile, too long to read and understand quickly by editors and researchers.

    It is therefore really important to get a handle on the types of document involved in the pitching and commissioning process, their content and the order in which they are required. The process can feel like a straight jacket on your creativity, but it shouldn't, it should free you up to focus in on the key components of your work, helping you work through your own ideas and take the pressure off, removing the feeling that you need to produce a polished final treatment before you begin pitching.

    Selling Documents

    These are about your idea in the broadest terms and about selling both your script and yourself as a writer.  

    Pull out the elements of your idea that you think will appeal to each editor and shout about them, research the audience they usually cater for and try keep them in mind when working on your pitch.

    You can use the same pitch for multiple companies, but, just as when applying for a job and working with your CV, tweak the pitch to highlight how it best meets the editors market/agenda.

    Pitches should be as short as possible, ideally, no more than a single page, it is about sparking interest and making the editor want to find out more.  They can be hard to write because you have to leave so much out and there is always a fear that what you exclude would have been the hook that drew the editor in, but have courage - if you don't keep it short, it won't be taken seriously.

    Start with an overview, detail the broad arc of the plot but also cover tone and your angle/agenda as a writer.  Knowing where you are coming from gives an editor confidence and helps them understand you as a writer, after all it is you they will have to work with if the story is developed.  WHAT is the story and WHY do YOU need to be the one to write it.  Outline the main characters, the setting, and if there any plot twists what are they?

    Writing for the BBC's Writers Room, Phillip Shelley, Script Editor, Consultant and Producer, said "The less good pitches deal in empty promises. It’s a good idea to convey your sense of excitement as a writer in a project – but it needs to be backed up by hard evidence."

    Development Documents

    • Outlines
    • Beat-sheets
    Once your idea has been accepted you move onto work up outlines and beat sheets, covering plot, structure, tone and content in the broadest sense.  Phillip Shelley again, "At their best, outlines can be gripping, exciting, emotive pieces of visual story-telling that give a clear indication that the script that follows is going to be equally wonderful. I haven’t yet read an exciting, excellent outline that doesn’t become an exciting, excellent script."

    "For me, the most important principles of writing effective outlines are to write visually and explain nothing. The outline has to work in the same way as the script will do. It needs to dramatise the story, and leave the interpretation of the story action up to the reader – in the same way as the best scripts/films."

    The Script

    Once the development documents have been discussed and tweaked, only then do you need to get started on your script - do this any earlier and you could be faced with massive re-writes in light of the feedback at the development document stage.

    Read more about Philip Shellley's experience, with hints and tips, in the BBC's Writers Room.