Monday, 31 December 2018

Author Philip Pullman Gets a Knighthood!

Philip Pullman has been recognised in the New Year's Honours List, both for his work as a writer and for his work supporting, and being an advocate for, other aspiring authors.

A tenacious advocate for authors and literature, Philip is actively involved in campaigning work for the Society of Authors, as well as for the Royal Society of Literature and the Blake Society. He has served as SoA President since 2013 and has used the position to passionately champion authors’ rights on fees, royalties, copyright, contract terms and high discounting.

Commenting on the announcement, Philip said "I was very surprised and honoured to be offered a knighthood. I believe the profession of letters should be recognised as having a proper place in the life of the nation, along with science, and sport, and music, and scholarship, and many other human activities. Many people I admire, such as Quentin Blake, Ellen MacArthur, Chris Hoy, Jacqueline Wilson, Nicholas Hytner, Jocelyn Bell Burnell, Bryn Terfel, Ray Davies, Mary Beard — far too many to list — have been happy to accept a knighthood or damehood, and I am proud to be in their company.

I’m immensely grateful to those who have worked so hard over many years to edit, publish, illustrate, and sell my books, and to the Society of Authors, which does so much for the profession of authorship. I’m most grateful of all to those who continue to read my books, and I hope they don’t have to work as hard as those who edit them."

Writer, translator and fellow SoA council member Daniel Hahn described Philip as ‘truly peerless’, saying "His prodigious inventiveness, his intellectual ambition, his bravery, his compassion, his ability – quite simply - to write like a dream, book after book, all these qualities combine to make him the very best of all. Philip Pullman's work has been recognised with – among others – the single most important international prize for children's literature, the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award; it's time we acknowledged his extraordinary contribution to our culture and celebrated him back home.

Saturday, 29 December 2018

No Clear Risk Management Systems to Blame for Inadequate CQC Rating

Figges Marsh Surgery in London Road, Mitcham, was rated Inadequate for being safe, responsive and well-led. It was rated Requires Improvement for being effective and caring, following a CQC inspection in October 2018.

Inspectors found that the practice did not have clear systems to manage risk to patients and staff. These included matters relating to:
  • recruitment
  • health and safety
  • security
  • infection control
  • medicines management
  • and the home visiting system.
The systems to support carers and those who had suffered a bereavement were not effective. The systems to keep people safeguarded from abuse were not clear.

Patients reported difficulty contacting the practice by telephone. Patients who visited the practice in person were more likely to secure appointments.

The partners did not work cohesively to be able to deliver high-quality care; there was limited capacity to drive learning and improvement.

The practice did not foster a culture where quality and safety was prioritised and staff did not always work as a team.

The practice has been directed to :
  • Ensure care and treatment is provided in a safe way to patients.
  • Establish effective ways to ensure good governance in accordance with the fundamental standards of care.
  • Ensure there is an effective system for dealing with complaints.
  • Review the systems for identifying and supporting carers and those who have suffered a bereavement.
  • Review and improve how patients access appointments – especially by telephone.
Professor Ursula Gallagher, Deputy Chief Inspector, Primary Medical Services, said: “I am very concerned that Figges Marsh Surgery is now rated Inadequate overall and has been placed in special measures, which will give it access to support that should help it to improve. At its last inspection, it was rated Good overall.

“People who use the service should be reassured that the service will be kept under review and if needed could be escalated to urgent enforcement action. Where necessary, another inspection will be conducted within six months, and if there is not enough improvement we will move to close the service by adopting our proposal to remove this location or cancel the provider’s registration.”

Friday, 28 December 2018

Government Funding for SMEs Wanting to Explore Exporting Opportunities Released

Applications are now open for UK businesses to apply for grants of up to £2,500 to attend international trade shows.

Attending international conferences and events is an effective way for those new to exporting, or exploring new territories, to meet potential customers face-to-face and start the exporting process.

Businesses can apply for grants of up to £2,500 to attend international trade shows through the Department for International Trade’s (DIT) Tradeshow Access Programme (TAP).

TAP provides financial support for UK SMEs to participate in overseas exhibitions and conferences that cover a range of sectors, from education to aerospace and creative to maritime. Successful businesses can use the grants to fund direct exhibiting costs, including stand costs and conference fees.

TAP grants accompany a wide range of support businesses can access through the Department for International Trade. This includes dedicated teams of International Trade Advisers, sector specialists, and a network of staff across the world that are available to help businesses embark on, or develop, their exporting journey.

Thursday, 20 December 2018

Culture of Continuous Learning Leads to CQC Outstanding Rating

The Care Quality Commission has found the quality of care provided by Corner House Residential Care Home in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, to be Outstanding following an inspection in October.

Corner House Residential Care Home provides care for up to 11 people who have a learning disability. When the CQC inspected there were 11 people living at the home.

Key Findings

  • People were supported to remain as independent as possible, maintaining their own safety and the safety of others in the home.
  • A culture of continuous learning exists with accidents and incidents reviewed and learnt from.
  • Staff were well trained and their practice was regularly assessed to aid development and improve the quality of support people received.
  • People were encouraged to choose to do their own shopping, make healthy food and drink choices, to lead a healthy lifestyle and they were supported to have maximum choice and control of their lives and staff supported them in the least restrictive way possible.
  • Staff were kind, caring, empathetic and compassionate, and the staff and management team worked together to provide people with excellent support to lead fulfilling lives and to reach their potential. 
  • People's support plans were person-centred and focused on providing high-quality outcomes for them, in line with their personal preferences.
Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care, said “The quality of care which our inspectors found here was exceptional and I am very pleased that we can celebrate the service’s achievements.

“An outstanding service is the result of a tremendous amount of hard work and commitment. I would like to thank and congratulate everyone involved.”

Monday, 17 December 2018

Government Announces Changes to Workers Rights in the UK - What Every Business and Employee Needs to Know

New legislation to upgrade workers’ rights was introduced today, affecting businesses and employees across both traditional and gig economies.
  • ensuring tips left for workers go to them in full.
  • ensuring workers are paid fairly by providing agency workers with a key facts page when they start work, including a clear breakdown of who pays them, and any costs or charges deducted from their wages.
  • enforcing vulnerable workers’ holiday pay for the first time.
  • introducing a list of day-one rights including holiday and sick pay entitlements and a new right to a payslip for all workers, including casual and zero-hour workers.
  • introducing a right for all workers, not just zero-hour and agency, to request a more predictable and stable contract, providing more financial security for those on flexible contract.
  • GLAA licensing standards will be revised to ensure that they reflect current worker rights and employer obligations
  • a new naming scheme for employers who fail to pay employment tribunal awards·will be introduced, taking further action to ensure unpaid interns are not doing the job of a worker.
The legislation was informed by two key documents, the Matthew Taylor Review into Modern Working Practices and Sir David Metcalf's Labour Market Strategy.

51 of the 53 recommendations made by Matthew Taylor have been adopted including:
  • closing a loophole by repealing the Swedish derogation – which currently allows agency workers to be employed on cheaper rates than permanent counterparts.
  • extending the right to a day one written statement of rights to all workers, including details on rights such as eligibility for sick leave and pay and details of other types of paid leave, such as maternity and paternity leave.
  • quadrupling maximum employment tribunal fines for employers who are demonstrated to have shown malice, spite or gross oversight from £5,000 to £20,000.
  • extending the holiday pay reference period from 12 to 52 weeks, ensuring those in seasonal or atypical roles get the paid time off they are entitled to.
  • lowering the threshold required for a request to set up Information and Consultation arrangements from 10% to 2%.
The following measures will be introduced to tackle the exploitation of low paid workers:
  • measures will be brought forward in early 2019 for a single enforcement body to ensure vulnerable workers are better protected.
  • more resource will be made available for the Employment Agency Standards (EAS) Inspectorate.
  • Penalties will be introduced for employers who breach employment agency legislation like non-payment of wages.
  • There will be a consultation on Salaried Hours Work and Salary Sacrifice Schemes to ensure National Minimum Wage rules do not inadvertently penalise employer.
  • Legislation will be introduced to enforce holiday pay for vulnerable workers.
  • There will be a consultation on the recommendations made in relation to non-compliance in supply chains.
The measures outlined in the package form part of the government’s modern Industrial Strategy, published last year, which sets out how the whole of the UK can build on its strengths, extend them into the future, and capitalise on new opportunities.

Thursday, 13 December 2018

CQC Rate Somerset GP Surgery Outstanding for Second Time

The Care Quality Commission has found the quality of care provided by Dunster Surgery, Minehead in Somerset to be Outstanding again following an inspection in October. This is the second time the service has been rated Outstanding overall.

Inspectors rated the care at the surgery Outstanding for being caring and well-led, and Good for being safe, effective and responsive to people’s needs.

Practice Strengths

  • The practice delivered safe and quality care with innovative systems in place to identify and minimise risks to patients.
  • The practice had an open culture to the reporting of, and learning from safety concerns raised by patients. 
  • The practice had a clear vision which had quality and safety as its top priority. High standards were promoted and owned by all practice staff with evidence of team working across all roles.
  • The service had a strong focus on continuous learning and improvement to ensure that high-quality, sustainable care was provided.
  • Leadership was compassionate, inclusive and effective. They prioritised compassion and support towards their staff and other health professional’s well-being.
Ruth Rankine, Deputy Chief Inspector of General Practice, said;“It is with pleasure that I am again delighted to highlight the exceptional service at Dunster Surgery. This practice is an excellent example of what outstanding care looks like. The service had clear vision to promote safe and quality care with high standards being promoted by all staff.

“There was a strong focus on continuous improvements to its services and valued the concerns raised by staff and people.

“This dedication and commitment pays off in making a real difference for their patients – which is why we have again found the practice to be Outstanding. I hope other practices will see this service as a model for excellent care.”

Monday, 10 December 2018

CQC Launches a Review into the Management of Patients with Mental Health Problems, a Learning Disability and/or Autism

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, has asked the CQC to review the use of restrictive interventions in settings that provide inpatient and residential care for people with mental health problems, a learning disability and/or autism.

Interim findings and recommendations are expected in May 2019, with the full report scheduled for release by March 2020.

Concern has been raised over the use of physical restraint, prolonged seclusion and segregation
in wards for people of all ages with a learning disability and/or autism and in secure and rehabilitation mental health wards.

The review will consider whether seclusion and segregation should be used in registered social care services for people with a learning disability and/or autism and how they should be used.

Dr Paul Lelliott, Deputy Chief Inspector of Hospitals (lead for mental health), said:  “There is understandable public concern about the use of restraint, prolonged seclusion and segregation for people with mental health problems, a learning disability or autism. It is vital that services minimise the use of all forms of restrictive practice and that providers and commissioners work together to find alternative, and less restrictive, care arrangements for people who are currently subject to seclusion or segregation. Failure to do this has the potential to amount to inhuman and degrading treatment of some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

“We welcome the Secretary of State’s commission for CQC to undertake a thematic review of this important issue. The review will examine the range of factors that lead to people being subject to restraint, prolonged seclusion or segregation, and will assess the extent to which services follow best practice in minimising the need to use force. The experience and perspective of the people affected by these practices, either as a patient or as a carer, will be central to this work. It is vital that society protects the rights, welfare and safety of children and adults with a mental illness, learning disability or autism and that they receive the safe, high quality care that they deserve.”

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Universities Urged to do More to Support Students at Risk of a Crisis

Higher education representatives have been told to take another look at their approach towards involving a student's family and friends (those listed as emergency contacts) when it is clear that the student is at risk of a mental health crisis.

Education Secretary, Damian Hinds has written to Julia Buckingham, who is chairing a roundtable on student mental health, asking the sector to maintain the focus that has been built up in recent months following the Student Mental Health Summit that was held at the University of the West of England in June 2018.

The event, hosted by Universities UK (UUK), will aim to develop advice for universities on consent for the disclosure of information about severe student difficulties to third parties. Giving universities clear guidance on this issue will ensure young people struggling at university will have every possible chance of receiving help from someone in their domestic support network. This is particularly important for students studying away from home, who may have a reduced support group.

Damian Hinds said "Ensuring that university students, many of whom will be leaving home for the first time, are supported is a key challenge for my department and the higher education sector as a whole.

Our universities are world leading in so many areas and I want them to be the best in the world for support and pastoral care as well. Ensuring that universities get better at reaching out to family members if a student is struggling with mental health is a big step along the road to delivering that ambition.

I’ve made clear to the sector how important this issue is and now I want them to work together to find a clear way forward so young people can get support from every person and organisation best able to give it.

In a recent Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) survey, 75% of applicants to higher education expected universities to contact a parent or guardian in situations where they are faced with serious challenges relating to their mental health.

The new UUK advice will need to build on this by giving 100% of students every possible opportunity to choose to receive care from families and trusted friends alongside the support they get from student welfare teams and the NHS."

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Ambulance Service Placed into Special Measures by the CQC

England’s Chief Inspector of Hospitals has rated SSG UK Specialist Ambulance Service – South as Inadequate and placed the service into special measures following its latest inspection by the Care Quality Commission.

A team of inspectors from the Care Quality Commission visited SSG UK Specialist Ambulance Service – South at Wickham Road, Fareham, Hampshire during August and September 2018 in response to concerns received relating to medicines, staffing, overall management of the service and one of the provider’s ambulances being involved in a road traffic collision.

SSG UK Specialist Ambulance Service – South provides both emergency and urgent care and patient transport services throughout the south-east. These services are commission by local NHS trusts.

Key Concerns 

  • Inspectors found that the overall management of medicines was not safe or line with legislation. Controlled drugs were not managed safely and as there were no regular audits SSG 
  • Records of medicines that were destroyed were incomplete and the provider could not provide any assurance that this was undertaken in line with legal requirement and the service’s guidance. 
  • The service could not provide an accurate count of staff who were employed or worked as bank staff, but thought there were around 650 staff recruited with 300 of these working on a regular basis.
  • There was no assurance that all staff working for the provider held a current disclosure barring service check and active professional registration.
  • Not all managers had the necessary skills, knowledge or experience to lead and develop the service. There was limited evidence they understood the challenges to service quality and overall sustainability of the service.
  • One of the secure vehicles used for the transport of mental health patients was not fit for purpose. The area that was used to transport patients, had a metal bench with no padding on the seat, this was rusty and patients had to sit directly on the metal.
  • There was limited evidence on how there was assurance that staff followed the restraint policy and protected patients from the risks of harm. The nine records for secure patients where restraint had been used showed that staff did not follow the full process.
  • There were no risks assessments completed and staff did not record a clear rationale for the use of restraint.
CQC Deputy Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Dr Nigel Acheson, said "“We are all well aware that our ambulance services are under a tremendous amount of pressure and scrutiny. However, when we inspected SSG UK Specialist Ambulance Service – South in August, we were extremely concerned at the disconnect we identified between the senior team and the staff working on the frontline. We saw no sign of a clear vision and strategy and a lack of response to the concerns we had previously raised."

“On the basis of this inspection, we have placed this provider into special measures. That means that SSG UK Specialist Ambulance Service – South will be inspected again within six months. We are currently engaging with the provider and monitoring the service very closely. If insufficient improvements have been made, we will take action in line with our enforcement procedures.”

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

New Government Funding Released to Support Electronic Prescribing

13 NHS trusts will receive a share of a £78 million fund to support electronic prescribing and medicines administration (ePMA) to improve patient safety.

New electronic systems will help hospital trusts move away from handwritten prescriptions:
  • reducing potentially deadly medication errors by up to 50% when compared with the old paper systems 
  • building up a complete electronic record 
  • ensuring fast access to potentially lifesaving information on prescribed medicines 
  • reducing duplication of information-gathering 
The 13 NHS trusts have been chosen because they provide a mixture of acute, mental health and community services. They will receive a share of £16 million funding for 2018 to 2019.

The roll-out of full ePMA across healthcare organisations is designed to improve efficiency in the healthcare system by:
  • making the most effective use of medicines 
  • increasing the use of digital systems to generate additional data sets 
This will help clinicians gain a greater understanding of the management of diseases.

Andrew Davies, Director of Hospital Pharmacy, NHS Improvement said "There is evidence that electronic prescribing and medicines administration systems will improve safety for patients, reducing the risk of harm and ensuring high-quality efficient patient care which is as safe as possible.

I’m delighted so many trusts have submitted successful bids to accelerate the introduction of these systems to provide safer, better quality patient care. We are now looking for more trusts to bid for funding by the end of January."

The first regional allocations are as follows:
  • Bolton NHS Foundation Trust - £1,020,000 
  • The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust - £750,000 
  • Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust - £1,600,000 
  • Humber NHS Foundation Trust - £300,000 
  • Northern Lincolnshire And Goole NHS Foundation Trust - £940,000 
  • Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust - £820,000 
  • University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust - £2,190,000 
  • Barts Health NHS Trust - £1,700,000 
  • East London NHS Foundation Trust  - £740,000 
  • East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust - £1,450,000 
  • Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust - £1,170,000 
  • Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust - £1,620,000 
  • East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust - £1,700,000 

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Small and Medium Size Businesses Offered Free Support to Grow Their Digital Exports

Baroness Fairhead, Minister of State at the Department of International Trade, has announced a new partnership between the Exporting is GREAT campaign and Google, which will see the Digital Garage deliver an exporting education series for 2000 SMEs in 2019.

Focusing on helping businesses grow their digital export operation, the events will be hosted in Manchester, Edinburgh and on university campuses around the UK. The training will be split into three modules which focus on:
  • finding new global opportunities, 
  • setting up new export operations,
  • and marketing.
Ronan Harris Google MD UK and Ireland said "We firmly believe everyone should be able to benefit from the opportunities that technology brings and we want to give people the skills they need to grow their confidence, career or business.

Looking forward to 2019, there is tremendous potential to envisage what we can achieve from working with the Department for International Trade to roll out a brand new training offering to small and medium enterprises providing valuable insight to support their export operations."

A recent Google business survey found that 70% of SMEs said that they lacked the skills needed to find the best overseas markets to enter.

The new partnership builds on an existing relationship which saw the Department for International Trade and Google working together to build a new online ‘Market Finder’ tool which allows companies to find overseas opportunities at the click of a mouse.

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Care Home Fined £30,000 by CQC For Failing to Protect People in its Care

A care home provider has been fined £300,000 for allowing a man in its care, with a history of sexual assaults, the freedom to prey on vulnerable people.

The Care Quality Commission brought the case against Hillgreen Care Limited for not providing the constant, one-to-one supervision required for the man, failing in its duty to protect people in its care and exposing them to the risk of sexual abuse.

Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court was told that on 1 November 2015, an autistic man was assaulted at Hillgreen’s care home at Colne Road, in Enfield, north London. At the time there were only two care staff on duty to look after six people.

One of the residents, who was described as non-verbal, with limited mental capacity, was followed up to his room and, allegedly, raped. The incident was eventually reported to the police, but partly because of the alleged victim’s mental capacity and a lack of evidence, no prosecution ensued.

The alleged perpetrator had been under the care of Hillgreen Limited for 10 years. Mr Paul Greaney QC, representing CQC said that: “XX is a predatory and opportunistic sex offender” and was a risk to both sexes. Numerous allegations involving vulnerable adults and children had been made against XX dating back to his childhood.

The court heard from expert witness, Chartered Clinical Psychologist, Dr Neil Sinclair, who said that it should have been apparent to Hillgreen Care Limited that there was an extremely high risk of XX committing sexual offences. XX needed to be monitored at all times.

Dr Sinclair said that if that monitoring been carried out, the alleged attack would probably never have happened. Residents at Colne Road were exposed to potential and actual harm.

A number of care workers who had worked at Colne Road gave evidence - although nobody from the senior Hillgreen management team.

A support care worker, who said she had not been given any instructions about watching XX, said that she walked in on XX while he was assaulting another service user, described as YY, on 1 November 2015.

Following the alleged sexual assault Colne Road Home Manager, said that the home was no longer a place he wanted to work after the incident. He said that staffing levels were inadequate and that he had raised the matter with senior Hillgreen management, but that nothing had been done about it.

Paul Greaney QC said: “YY plainly needed to be protected from abuse. One only needs to think for a moment about the situation that existed in that care home, a vulnerable man, in an environment in which a predatory sexual offender was largely free to roam, to realise that YY needed protection.”

Andrea Sutcliffe, CQC's Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care, welcomed the judgment and sentence: "As the judge has made clear, Hillgreen Care Limited utterly failed in their duty of care for the people they were responsible for supporting. YY should never have been exposed to the potential of sexual abuse from XX and the impact on him and his family is heartbreaking. My thoughts are with them today.

"It has taken a long time to bring this prosecution to a conclusion but the outcome proves that it has been worth the effort and dedication of CQC's inspection and legal teams. Providers should be clear that if people are exposed to harm through their failure of care we will take every step we can to hold them to account."

Friday, 16 November 2018

70% of People Agree That UK Universities Are Among The Best in the World!

BritainThinks poll, conducted on behalf of Universities UK, looked in detail at public perceptions of higher education.

The poll of 2,063 UK adults showed just 9% of the public feel negative towards universities, with 48% saying they feel positive. 66% of people agreed with the statement that they would encourage their children to attend university.

There were other positive markers of public opinion too:
  • 58% of people believe that universities have a positive impact on the UK.
  • 55% of people agreed that people who go to university can get better jobs than those that don’t.
  • 70% of people agree that UK universities are among the best in the world.
  • 55% of 18-24 year olds and 44% of 25-34 year olds said universities have had a positive impact on them personally, compared to 35% of people aged 65+.
  • 34% of 18-24 year olds said universities have had a positive impact on their local community, compared to 26% of those aged 65+.
  • Young people are much more likely to disagree with the statement “university degrees do not equip graduates with the skills they need to be successful in the workplace” (35% of 18-24 year olds disagree, compared to 24% of those aged 65+). 
  • BAME adults are much more likely to say that universities have a positive impact on their family than white adults (60% compared to 43%). 
  • BAME adults are more likely to say that universities have a positive impact on the UK as a whole than white people (68% compared to 57%).
Professor Dame Janet Beer, President of Universities UK and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Liverpool, said: “There is a myth that the public are sceptical about the merits of universities – and that an increasingly large number of young people think higher education is a waste of time. In fact, as this research shows, the opposite is true. The public are hugely positive towards universities and see the benefits of a university education. Crucially, this is most true of those with direct experience of university – existing students and recent graduates. That is one of the reasons why demand for university places has remained high despite there being fewer 18-year-olds in the population.

“Politicians need to work with the higher education sector to extend the number of people accessing universities and to give more support for flexible learning, promoting pride in what is a world-class sector, rather than creating new obstacles.”

Thursday, 15 November 2018

CQC Launches New Web Based Resources Focusing on Using Technology to Improve Care

A new resource section has been added to the CQC’s website focusing on how technology can be used to improve care.

Pages will be added as new topics are addressed by the CQC and will explore the use of technology in care.  Looking at the benefits of innovation and updating previously published information on surveillance.

Technology can:
  • give people more control over their health, safety and wellbeing
  • support them to be more independent or feel less isolated
  • link them to services which are important for them
  • enhance the care or treatment providers offer
  • help them communicate with families, professionals and staff
  • help staff to prioritise and focus their attention on people who need it most
  • capture and compare data, and share good practice with peers.
To use technology well, the interests of the person using the service must be at its heart.  People's safety, dignity and consent must be at the centre of decisions about their care. This applies to decisions about the use of new technology. Being clear about people's rights, privacy and choice must always come first.
Updates will look at what providers will need to consider as they develop new ways of working with technology.

The 'technology in care' pages already include:
  • Using surveillance in your care service 
  • Appropriately handling personal information 
  • Understanding 'informed consent' 

Monday, 12 November 2018

Welsh SMEs Urged to Claim £2500 Government Funding to Boost Broadband Before it is Too Late

Businesses from Wales are being urged to make use of a £2500 voucher from the UK Government for gigabit broadband speeds before the scheme closes due to high demand.

The UK Government’s Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme has already helped more than 7000 UK businesses and surrounding homes, who have used the vouchers to contribute to (and in many cases fully fund) the installation cost of a full fibre gigabit capable connection.

The £67 million scheme was initially expected to run until March 2021, but high demand for vouchers means that funds are now expected to be committed a year earlier, and perhaps even sooner if the current success of the scheme continues to grow.

To date, 58 vouchers have been issued to premises in Wales and the UK Government is calling on businesses and residents to apply for the voucher before the scheme comes to an end.

UK Government Minister for Wales, Nigel Adams said "Improving connectivity for homes and businesses is a central pillar of the UK Government’s efforts to strengthen the Welsh economy.

The UK Government’s broadband connection voucher scheme is proving to be tremendously popular. Homes want to benefit from superfast broadband speed and businesses need to be properly equipped for all the challenges of the digital world in which we live. I urge all eligible businesses and home owners to apply as soon as possible to make sure they don’t miss out on the fantastic offer."

These vouchers provide practical and immediate help to firms struggling with slow broadband speeds.  To ensure as many businesses and homes benefit, the maximum value of the voucher has been reduced from £3000 to £2500. The government hopes this will encourage neighbouring businesses to “pool” their vouchers.  This will enable the scheme to reach more properties without the need for any additional funding. 

The scheme is part of a series of Government initiatives to build a Britain with nationwide full fibre broadband coverage by 2033, making sure no communities are left behind. In addition to the voucher scheme, the Chancellor recently announced £200 million for an ‘outside-in’ approach that will see full fibre broadband rolled out in the hardest to reach rural locations at the same pace as the rest of the country. The Borderlands, Cornwall, and Welsh valleys will be amongst the first areas to be targeted.

More information on the Gigabit Voucher Scheme, including details on how businesses can apply can be found here

Monday, 5 November 2018

CQC Update Equally Outstanding Learning Modules

A year ago the CQC published Equally Outstanding, a resource which shows how a focus on equality and human rights can improve care quality – even in times of financial constraint.

One year on, they have updated Equally Outstanding with a new e-learning module,
extra case studies from outstanding providers
and an updated pdf version based on feedback.

These resources are designed to help people working in health and social care to:
  • understand the different reasons why a focus on equality and human rights can improve care quality
  • make the case for equality and human rights in quality improvement work
  • learn from providers who have worked on equality and human rights to deliver outstanding care
  • reflect on the common success factors in outstanding providers using equality and human rights to improve care
  • think about how a focus on equality and human rights can help meet challenges in times of financial constraint

Why pay attention to equality and human rights?

The Ethical Case

Paying attention to equality and human rights improves care as it gives people the outcomes they want.  Human rights cover the FREDA principles of:
  • fairness
  • respect
  • equality
  • dignity
  • autonomy
Outstanding providers have tackled this by putting better outcomes for people at the heart of their service development.

Person-centred care is essential because it is based on respect and autonomy meets individual needs so helps achieve equality.

The Business Case

  • There is a link between equality and inclusion for health and social care staff and quality of care.
  • Improving workforce equality can reduce costs by reducing staff turnover, absenteeism and disciplinary action.
  • A diverse workforce adds value to the organisation.
  • For people using the service, addressing equality and human rights can both improve the quality of care and save costs. For example: sending information in appropriate formats or languages could reduce missed appointments; environmental adaptations in social care services can increase autonomy; welcoming, easily accessible services can lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment.  
  • The CQC sees links between quality ratings and how providers perform on equality and human rights.

The Economic Case

A focus on equality and human rights can save the country money.  For example: ill health, or a deterioration in people’s health, can be prevented if health inequalities or barriers to accessing services are tackled; ill health leads to lower productivity and higher welfare costs so services can help enable people to participate socially and economically.

The Legal Case

Considering equality and human rights is often a legal requirement.

CQC regulations are designed to ensure that people using services have their human rights upheld.

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 gives specific human rights protection to adults who may not be able to make particular decisions.
Service providers must comply with equality legislation

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Autumn Budget Highlights for SMEs and the Self Employed

If you missed the budget yesterday here are the highlights for small businesses and the self-employed...

Threshold For VAT Registration

The Chancellor has frozen the point at which you have to be VAT registered at £85,000 until 2022.

Help For Apprenticeships 

The number of companies offering apprenticeships fell dramatically following the introduction of burdensome co-investment costs for small firms who want to bring young people into the workplace. The Chancellor announced they will be dropping the proportion of apprenticeship training costs footed by small firms from 10 per cent to 5.  

Employment Allowance

The Employment Allowance is a vital incentive that’s helped more than a million small firms create jobs, increase pay and invest over the last year alone. The Government has decided to keep the allowance in place, directing it towards the small employers where it has the most impact. 

Training for the Self Employed

The Chancellor has responded to calls for greater funding for training within the self-employed community and announced the development of a £10 million self-employment training pilot scheme in Manchester. 

New Enterprise Allowance

The New Enterprise Allowance programme will be continued. The initiative has helped more than 100,000 unemployed people start firms. 

Start-Up Loans Company

The Government is extending funding for this crucial part of the British Business Bank. 

Small Business Rate Relief

Small businesses on our high streets that cannot get Small Business Rate Relief will be delighted with the significant discount for the next two years, which on average will help these businesses to the tune of almost £2,000 each, but potentially up to around £16,000 off small businesses facing the biggest bills.

Fuel Duty Freeze

The fuel duty freeze will also provide welcome relief for small firms who rely on road transport, particularly as the cost of petrol has surged over the last year.

Improvements to the Road Network

Nine in ten small businesses say a properly funded road network is important to their success. The £420 million of new funding dedicated to tackling the scourge of potholes is an important intervention. 

Talking about the budget, Mike Cherry, Federation of Small Businesses National Chairman, said “This is the most small-business-friendly budget that this Chancellor has delivered. He has listened to our requests across many areas of tax and public policy, putting him firmly on the side of Britain’s small businesses.

“On the tax front, small firms up and down the country will be pleased to see the VAT threshold frozen for two years. FSB was credited in the speech for our campaign on this, stopping an over-reach which would have created a mountain of bureaucracy and a tax-hike for more than a million businesses. I look forward to seeing further innovative changes to VAT post-Brexit.

“Small businesses on our high streets that cannot get Small Business Rate Relief will be delighted with the significant discount for the next 2 years, which on average will help these businesses to the tune of almost £2,000 each, but potentially up to around £16,000 off small businesses facing the biggest bills.

The decision to protect and refocus the Employment Allowance means that small firms will use the £3,000 of help to increase staff hours, improve pay and meet the rising costs of the National Living Wage, boosting jobs and productivity.”

Thursday, 25 October 2018

No System for Continuous Improvement Contributes to CQC Placing GP Practice into Special Measures

A Croydon GP practice has been rated as Inadequate overall and placed in special measures by the Care Quality Commission.

Denmark Road Surgery, which looks after 6,200 patients, was rated Inadequate for being safe, effective and well-led. It was rated Requires Improvement for being caring and responsive, following the inspection in August 2018.

Key Concerns

  • There was no effective system to ensure learning and improvement after things went wrong. 
  • There was no effective system to ensure that all staff received the training and support requires for their roles.
  • Patients found it difficult to get through to the practice by telephone. 
  • There was little or no evidence of improvement following complaints. 
  • There was insufficient leadership in some areas of practice governance, particularly related to safety and the management of staff.
To keep practising the surgery must now improve systems to ensure care and treatment is provided in a safe way to patients and must establish effective ways to establish good governance in accordance with the fundamental standards of care.

The practice has also been advised to improve the recording of patients with caring responsibilities, improve arrangements for managing confidentiality around the reception and improve the uptake of cancer screening.

Professor Ursula Gallagher, Deputy Chief Inspector, Primary Medical Services, said: “I am concerned that the Denmark Road Surgery is rated Inadequate overall and must be placed in special measures, which will give it access to support that should help it to improve.

“People who use the service should be reassured that the service will be kept under review and if needed could be escalated to urgent enforcement action. Where necessary, another inspection will be conducted within six months, and if there is not enough improvement we will move to close the service by adopting our proposal to remove this location or cancel the provider’s registration.”

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Government Crackdown on University Grade Inflation

Student grades will be one of the key criteria universities will be measured against for the new national university rating system. This has led to concerns within the government that universities may be tempted to be generous when grading papers.

The Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF) will rate universities with gold, silver or bronze scores based on a number of criteria including their overall provision, student experience, teaching quality and whether courses are sufficiently stretching enough – the government is also piloting a subject-specific version of it.

Announcing a second year of pilots to move subject-level TEF a step closer, Sam Gyimah, Minister of State (Universities and Science), has confirmed the new pilots will also look at grade inflation, with TEF panellists reviewing evidence to see whether universities are taking a responsible approach to degree grading and not awarding excessive numbers of firsts and 2:1s. It means a university’s provider-level rating of gold, silver or bronze will take their approach to tackling grade inflation into account.

Grade inflation will be an important feature of the criteria considered alongside how a university is stretching its students through course design and assessment, and through their ability to develop independence, knowledge and skills that reflect their full potential. 

This is one of the first measures taken by the government to tackle grade inflation, with the plans confirmed in the government’s response to the subject-level TEF consultation.

In the last five years alone, figures from the Higher Education Stats Authority show the proportion of graduates who gained a first-class degree has increased from 18% in 2012/13 to 26% in 2016/17.

Universities Minister Sam Gyimah said "When you look at what makes our universities so prestigious, it comes down to the value of our degrees – they open up a huge range of opportunities and the chance to step into a rewarding and highly-skilled career.

The value of those degrees is threatened by grade inflation and that is a problem for students, employers and the universities themselves. These new measures will look at how we can protect our globally recognised higher education system by discouraging universities from undermining the reverence a degree qualification from the UK commands."

Friday, 19 October 2018

MPs Call For a Costed 10 Year Plan For Social Care

MPs sitting on the Public Accounts Committee have called for a costed 10-year plan for social care to developed to sit along side the government's 10-year plan for the NHS.

There is widespread consensus that integration and joint working is the right way forward for the health and social care system to deliver the best and most effective outcomes for people and their families.

Financial pressures and an ageing population have both increased the need for joined-up working, with local authorities reducing real-terms spending on adult social care by 5.3% between 2010-11 and 2016-17, while the number of people in England aged 85 and over rose by 28% between 2006 and 2016.

The committee recognised that there are examples across England where integrated working has been successfully applied. But it is a long way from being in place everywhere, with a range of longstanding legal, structural and cultural barriers hindering the pace and scale at which change can happen.

There has been a lot of talk within government over how to support and accelerate the integration of health and social care. In the past 20 years alone, there have been 12 white papers, green papers and consultations, and five independent reviews and consultations.

However, the Government still lacks an effective overall strategy or plan to achieve its long-held aim to integrate these two sectors.

In their latest report the committee concluded "The renaming of a Government department is a sign of intent but with local authorities squeezed there is no realistic prospect of progress.  Without this, people risk not getting joined-up, co-ordinated care that they need and risk getting poorer outcomes."

Public Accounts Committee Chair Meg Hillier MP said "The time for warm words and wishful thinking is over. If Government is serious about delivering the benefits of integrated health and social care, it must act to make it happen.

Without this action, the array of outputs over the past two decades – consultations, reviews, Government papers – will never be matched by improved outcomes for service users.

For this reason we urge Government to set out a costed 10-year plan for social care to go alongside its proposed 10-year plan for the NHS.

Social care has suffered long-term underfunding and it is unacceptable that councils, under considerable financial pressure and facing growing demand for care services, must wait until 2020 for clarity.

Government must also step up efforts to break down barriers to integration across the country.

Its departments and agencies need to work together more effectively to support the roll-out of best practice, as well as the leadership necessary to drive change at local level.

There remains a wide gap in pay and career structure between people who work in the NHS and those in social care, whose workforce suffers from low pay and low esteem.

As I have said previously, social care is skilled work that transforms people’s lives. It could and should be a source of national pride.

It is vital that the Government’s workforce plan addresses these concerns as a positive step towards achieving its aim of integrating health and social care.”

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

A Tale of a Paramilitary Sexual Predator Wins 50th Man Booker Prize for Fiction

Last night Anna Burns won the 50th Man Booker Prize for Fiction with her novel, Milkman.

Anna is the first Northern Irish author to win and the 17th woman since the prize began in 1969.

Burns, 56, who was born in Belfast and lives in East Sussex, drew on the experience of Northern Ireland during the Troubles to write Milkman. Her first acclaimed novel, No Bones, was also set in this period. She saw off competition from two British writers, two American writers and one Canadian writer.

Talking about the award Kwame Anthony Appiah, 2018 Chair of judges, said "None of us has ever read anything like this before. Anna Burns’ utterly distinctive voice challenges conventional thinking and form in surprising and immersive prose. It is a story of brutality, sexual encroachment and resistance threaded with mordant humour. Set in a society divided against itself, Milkman explores the insidious forms oppression can take in everyday life."

Set in an unnamed city, Milkman focuses on middle sister as she navigates her way through rumour, social pressures and politics in a tight-knit community. Burns shows the dangerous and complex outcome that can happen to a woman coming of age in a city at war.

The Telegraph described the novel as ‘viciously funny’, praising Burns for her ability ‘to paint a colourful social scene’. Meanwhile, the Irish Times wrote that Burns has created a novel that is ‘an impressive, wordy, often funny book and confirms Anna Burns as one of our rising literary stars’.

Milkman is published by Faber & Faber, making it the fourth consecutive year the prize has been won by an independent publisher. Faber & Faber has the second highest number of winning titles of any publisher, with six winners that include: Something to Answer For (1969), Rites of Passage (1980), Oscar and Lucinda (1988), The Remains of the Day (1989), True History of the Kelly Gang (2001), Vernon God Little (2003).
Royal Mail is issuing a congratulatory postmark featuring the winner’s name, which will be applied to millions of items of stamped mail nationwide for six days from 17 October. It will read ‘Congratulations to Anna Burns, winner of the 2018 Man Booker Prize’.

On winning the Man Booker Prize, an author can expect international recognition, plus a dramatic increase in book sales. In the week following the 2017 winner announcement, sales of Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders increased by 1227%. Bloomsbury has to date sold just under ¼ million copies globally across all formats, 70% of those sales coming after the win.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Plans for a New Masters Degree in Immersive Storytelling Announced

£10 million Industrial Strategy funding has been awarded to a new creative industries centre, which will build UK skills in immersive tech.

The Centre for Immersive Storytelling will be based at Royal Holloway University's Surrey campus. Its aim is to ensure that the UK’s creative workforce has world-leading skills in the use of virtual, augmented and mixed reality technologies.

It is being funded by UK Research and Innovation through its £33 million audience of the future programme, which forms part of government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

The centre will be run by the National Film and Television School (NFTS) and Royal Holloway University.  The bid was supported by high-profile people from the creative industry, including Sir Lenny Henry, Asif Kapadia, Georgina Campbell, Sarah Gavron, Steven Moffat, Sue Vertue and Alex Garland.

The centre will offer creative training and research programmes in immersive storytelling, initially to screen professionals.  They will be able to take part in experimental labs, workshops, placements and courses through the centre, which will also support and co-fund real immersive productions.

In the longer term, the centre will offer master’s degrees across a range of immersive specialisms.

Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries Margot James said "From watching live theatre productions in the cinema to apps which allow you to scan and identify artworks on gallery visits, immersive tech is opening up a huge range of exciting new possibilities.

We are determined to be the best place in the world to start and grow a digital business, and by backing this new centre we will help our world-class creative talent captivate the audiences of the future."
The centre will commission 60 productions that will develop the UK’s immersive sector. Organisations across the UK will be selected to lead the projects.

Jon Wardle, Director of the NFTS, said "It is our aim to make immersive another success story for UK plc’s world-leading screen industries, by enabling our storytellers of film, TV, games and theatre to exploit this new medium.

We intend to place diversity at the heart of our endeavours, ensuring that the future of immersive storytelling is one that reflects the full breadth of the UK’s creative talent."

Friday, 5 October 2018

Proactive and Inclusive Approach to Risk Management Leads to Outstanding CQC Rating

A Westminster surgery has been rated Outstanding overall - for a second time - by the Care Quality Commission.

The Doctor Hickey Surgery has been rated Outstanding for being caring, responsive and well-led. It was rated Good for being safe and effective, following an inspection in March 2018.

The surgery looks after approximately 2,300 homeless people in Westminster. Clinicians provide a wide range of medical services including the management of substance misuse, alcohol abuse and mental illness. It has been providing services to homeless people for 30 years.

Inspectors were impressed with the service's culture, embedding risk management into every role:
  • The practice had clear systems to manage risk so that safety incidents were less likely to happen. When incidents did happen, the practice learned from them and improved their processes. 
  • A proactive approach to anticipating and managing risks to people who use their services was embedded and was recognised as the responsibility of all staff.
  • The practice routinely reviewed the effectiveness and appropriateness of the care it provided. It ensured that care and treatment was delivered according to evidence-based guidelines.
  • The continuing development of the staff’s skills, competence and knowledge was recognised as being integral to ensuring high-quality care. Staff were proactively supported and encouraged to acquire new skills and share best practice.
  • The practice had a clear vision which had quality and safety as the top priorities. High standards were promoted and owned by all practice staff with evidence of team working across all roles.
  • There was a strong focus on continuous learning and improvement at all levels of the organisation. 
  • There was a fully embedded and systematic approach to improvement. 
  • Improvement was seen as the way to deal with performance and for the organisation to learn.

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Government Announces New Measures to Help SMEs

The Business Secretary Greg Clark has announced a series of new measures to back businesses and entrepreneurs, support workers and ensure every part of the country benefits from the government’s modern Industrial Strategy.

More Protection for Small Businesses

The government will strengthen the Prompt Payment Code with a new tough and transparent compliance regime.

A call for evidence will be published later this week which will consider the best way to ensure company boards put in place responsible payment practices throughout their supply chain, including whether all company boards should give one of their non-executive directors specific responsibilities for the company’s prompt payment performance.

The Small Business Commissioner will join the Prompt Payment Code’s Compliance Board to support his role in tackling late payment.

Reacting to the plans the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) National Chairman Mike Cherry said “Late payment is the biggest challenge affecting small businesses and it is good to see the Government getting serious about this issue.

“The voluntary Prompt Payment Code is not working when it allows signatories like Carillion to pay on terms of over 120 days, so we want to see a new tough and transparent compliance regime being proposed. Involving the Small Business Commissioner Paul Uppal with the Code is also right as that shows a more joined-up approach to this difficult issue.

“Further, it is a positive step that central government will set an example – paying 90% of undisputed invoices from small and medium-sized businesses within five days.”


The government has announced plans to ensure that tips left for workers will go to them in full.

While most employers act in good faith, in some sectors evidence points towards poor tipping practices, including excessive deductions being made from tips left by customers.

New legislation, to be introduced at the earliest opportunity, will set out that tips must go to the workers providing the service.

This legislation will ensure workers get the tips they deserve and give consumers reassurance that the money they leave in good faith to reward good service is going to the staff, as they intended – ensuring that hard work is rewarded.

Proposals to Help Parents and Carers in the Workforce

While many companies are increasingly embracing flexible working and the benefits it brings, some employees face barriers in raising this issue with their employers.

The government will consider creating a duty for employers to consider whether a job can be done flexibly, and make that clear when advertising.

Greater Transparency on Parental Pay

The government will consult on requiring employers with more than 250 staff to publish their parental leave and pay policies, so job applicants can make informed decisions about whether they can combine the role with caring for their family.

While many employers go further than the legal minimum for parental leave and pay, very few publish their policies openly. Applicants must ask prospective employers what the position is which many are reluctant to do for fear of discrimination.

Progress Towards a Local Industrial Strategy for the West Midlands

In consultation with regional partners, the local Industrial Strategy for the West Midlands will harness its distinctive strengths to unlock greater growth and earning power across the region’s cities and places. 

The West Midlands Local Industrial Strategy will provide a long-term plan for alignment of local and national decision making to increase productivity and deliver an economy that works for all. This will include how the automotive and wider transport cluster, the life science cluster, and their associated supply chains and infrastructure, will drive the UK’s response to the Future of Mobility Grand Challenge and the AI and Data Grand Challenge.

Friday, 28 September 2018

Kings Fund Concludes CQC Work is Having a Positive Impact but There is Room for Improvement

The Kings Fund has been reviewing the effectiveness of the Care Quality Commission (CQC)’s ‘Ofsted-style’ inspection and rating regime.  Their report concludes that the system is a significant improvement on its predecessor but that there is room for improvement.

The research, carried out by The King’s Fund and Alliance Manchester Business School between 2015 and 2018, examined how the CQC is working in four sectors – acute care, mental health care, general practice and adult social care – in six areas of England.
The new regime for assessing the performance of health and care services was the centrepiece of the then government’s response to the Francis report into the failures of care at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust. 

The new approach was seen as a significant improvement on the system it replaced, which had been widely criticised following several high-profile failures of care.

The report found that the impact of the inspection regime came about through the interactions between providers, CQC and other stakeholders not just from an individual inspection visit and report. It suggests that relationships are critical, with mutual credibility, respect and trust being very important. The report argues that CQC should invest more in the recruitment and training of its workforce, and calls on providers to encourage and support their staff to engage openly with inspection teams.

The report highlights a number of areas for improvement in CQC’s approach to regulation. It cautions that the focus on inspection and rating may have crowded out other activity which might have more impact. It recommends that CQC focus less on large, intensive but infrequent inspections and more on regular, less formal contact with providers, helping to drive improvement before, during and after inspections.

The evaluation found significant differences in how CQC’s inspection and ratings work across the four sectors it regulates. Acute care and mental health care providers were more likely to have the capacity to improve and had better access to external improvement support than general practice and adult social care providers. The report recommends that CQC thinks about developing the inspection model in different ways for different sectors, taking into account these differences in capability and support.

The researchers also analysed data on A&E, maternity and GP services to see if CQC inspection and rating had an impact on key performance indicators but found only small effects. There was also little evidence that patients or GPs were using ratings to make choices about maternity services.

The ‘risk-based’ system using routine performance data which CQC used to target inspections was found to have little connection to subsequent ratings. The report suggests the CQC use a wider range of up-to-date data to develop a more insightful way of prioritising inspections.

The CQC is now implementing a revised strategy for regulation which addresses some of the issues raised in the report. The report welcomes their new focus on developing stronger, improvement-focused relationships with providers and system-wide approaches to regulating quality.

Ruth Robertson, report author and Senior Fellow at The King’s Fund said "We found that CQC’s approach works in different ways in different parts of the health and care system. When CQC identifies a problem in a large hospital there is a team of people who can help the organisation respond, but for a small GP surgery or care home the situation is very different. We recommend that CQC develops its approach in different ways in different parts of the health system with a focus on how it can have the biggest impact on quality."

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

New and Returning University Students Urged to Get Meningitis Vaccine

First-year university students need to be vaccinated against meningitis, which could be mistaken for ‘freshers’ flu’ or a hangover, and puts their lives at risk.

Students are at particular risk from the disease due to mixing closely and living with new people who may unknowingly carry the meningitis-causing bacteria.

Latest figures show there were a total of 748 cases of meningitis in England in 2016/17. These figures include 225 cases of an aggressive form of meningitis called Men W, which has killed one in three teenagers. Meningitis can also cause septicaemia (blood poisoning).

Those who recover from meningitis can be left with serious long-term health problems, such as amputation, deafness, blindness, epilepsy and learning difficulties.  But, with early diagnosis and anti-biotic treatment, most people make a full recovery.

One in four 15 to 19-year-olds carry the meningococcal bacteria – the most common cause of bacterial meningitis in the UK – in the back of their nose and throat, compared to one in 10 of the UK population, which puts them at greater risk.

The bacteria is spread by prolonged close contact – such as coughing, kissing or sneezing – with a person carrying the bacteria.

Early symptoms of meningitis can be similar to flu or even a hangover, and may be mistaken for other common illnesses. They include headache, vomiting, muscle pain, fever and cold hands and feet.

A rash of tiny red pinpricks may also develop once septicaemia has set in. This rash does not fade under pressure – for instance, when gently pressing a glass against it.

Students showing symptoms of the disease should not wait for a rash to develop before seeking medical attention as meningitis can develop suddenly and progress within hours.

New and returning students are being urged to get up to date with meningitis vaccinations before the new academic term starts or as soon as they arrive at university.

Overall, anyone up to the age of 25 is strongly advised to get the vaccination, whether starting college or university, or not.

Dr Shamez Ladhani, Consultant Paediatrician at Public Health England, said “We know that colleges and universities can be hot spots for the spread of meningitis and septicaemia. First-year students especially are at increased risk of meningitis and septicaemia if they are unvaccinated – which makes sense when they spend large amounts of time with new people in confined environments such as university halls.

“Thanks to our MenACWY vaccine programme, we saw a significant decline in MenW cases among 18-year-olds in the first 12 months after the programme was introduced. More importantly, for the first time since 2009, we are now seeing a decline in the total number of Men W cases across England.

“We need eligible people to keep getting the vaccine every year to ensure that this downward trend continues. We encourage students to check with their GP that they are up to date with their MenACWY vaccination before term starts – it’s never too late to protect themselves and their friends from such highly infectious diseases.”

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Business Views on Post Brexit Trade Agreements Sought by Goverment

Members of the public and businesses can now have their say on the UK's prospective, post-Brexit trade agreements.

In 6 month’s time, the UK will have the opportunity to begin negotiating, signing, and ratifying Free Trade Agreements with trading partners across the globe. 

In preparation for this, the UK Government is consulting with members of the public, businesses, trade experts, and any other interested organisations to help inform this work.

These agreements could:
  • enable increased trade and investment
  • secure access for UK exporters to the key markets of today and the future
  • give consumers access to a greater range of products at lower prices
  • make the UK more innovative, competitive and prosperous.
There are 4 online consultations:
At the launch event International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said "These consultations are about how we position ourselves as Global Britain. To build the export markets, investment opportunities and trading relationships of the future.

Trade affects us all – whether it is through the prices and availability of product on our supermarket shelves, to the resources available for our public services, to the jobs and investment on which we all rely."

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

CQC Local System Review Programme Expanded

The CQC has written to local system leaders in six local authority areas where they will be undertaking new or follow-up reviews exploring how older people move between health and adult social care services.

Formerly requested by the Secretaries of State for Health and Social Care and for Housing, Communities and Local Government; this further tranche follows on from the first round of reviews, covering 20 local authorities.

The CQC will be reviewing and reporting on three new areas by the end of December 2018:
  • Staffordshire
  • Leeds
  • Reading

They have also been asked to choose three local system areas, from those looked at in 2017/18, to follow up on progress made.  The three follow-up areas are:
  • Stoke-on-Trent
  • York
  • Oxfordshire

Ian Trenholm, our Chief Executive, said “This further request by Government is testament to the work we have done understanding the local pressures and challenges across health and care systems.

“As the ‘Beyond Barriers’ report laid bare, our intention is that this next round of reviews will provide an important picture of what is working well; the barriers that may be preventing local people and organisations from working together effectively; and, most importantly, the impact this has on those who depend on health and care services.

“We look forward to sharing and building on the local good practice we have seen so far, for the benefit of the people that local authorities and health organisations support.”

Thursday, 13 September 2018

CQC Backs DHSC's Drive to Improve Staff Training For Those Supporting People With Learning Disabilities

The government has announced a series of measures to address the inequality of life expectancy between people with learning disabilities and the wider population.  Proposals will be consulted on with views being sought from people who have experience of learning disabilities, NHS and social care providers and the general public.

Plans for increased awareness training for health and care staff who work with people with learning disabilities are at the heart of the proposals and could cover:
  • relevant legislation
  • making adjustments to the way care is provided
  • how to provide care that helps people reach their full potential
The measures recognise a need for better awareness among health and care staff about making reasonable adjustments to the way that care or information is provided to people with learning disabilities.

Other measures announced include:
  • sharing the learning from the named social worker pilot, which explored one-to-one support for people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health needs
  • plans for a long-term study of the impact of integrated community support for people with learning disabilities
  • testing and developing a quality-of-life standard for people with learning disabilities that can be used to measure the effectiveness of support
In response to the announcement, Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care, said “‎The Annual Report of the Learning Disabilities Mortality Review Programme published earlier this year laid bare the ‎wholly unacceptable situation that people with learning disabilities die, on average, 15 to 20 years sooner than people in the general population. Change is overdue and desperately needed as people with learning disabilities and their families have long been telling us.

“The Government's measures are welcome and the focus on training for health and care staff is vital. We do see lots of great practice in services but more action is required to address the many issues faced by people with learning disabilities ‎as they encounter health, care and support services – including negative, dismissive attitudes; a lack of dignity and respect; and poor understanding of their needs and wishes.

“We will continue to play our part in identifying where improvements are needed in the delivery of good, safe person-centred care as well as holding providers to account to deliver on these improvements. But everyone in health and social care, including commissioners and providers, needs to take seriously their responsibilities to work with people with learning disabilities, their families and carers, so their rights to have a happy, healthy life are properly supported."