Archives for March 1998

New chief for NHS Estates

Headlines, PublicNet: 30 March, 1998

Kate Priestley has been appointed as the new Chief Executive of NHS Estates. She succeeds John Locke who left the Agency at the end of August 1997 to become Chief Executive at Property Advisers to the Civil Estate, an Executive Agency of the Cabinet Office.The prime function of NHS Estates is to provide advice and professional services on management of the substantial NHS estate with building, decommissioning and estates management strategies. The Agency operates within a budget of some £10 million annually and is required to cover these costs through its business activities. The Agency’s principal clients are the NHS Executive, Health Authorities and NHS Trusts.

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Power for London Mayor proposals

Headlines, PublicNet: 27 March, 1998

The White Paper setting out the Government’s proposals for the Mayor and 25 member Greater London Authority has been unveiled by deputy Prime Minister John Prescott. He described a radical institution that would give London the means to solve its problems and maximise its potential. If the Referendum on 7 May produces a ‘Yes’ vote from the 5 million voters the new Mayor will take up office in 2000.The role envisaged for the Mayor is spokesperson for the whole of London; planner, taking a broad overview and co-ordinator making London organisations more effective. The new authority would take responsibility for spending on police, fire, transport, economic development, the environment and planning. It would be given control of the current budget £3.3b. The Mayor would initiate proposals and the assembly would scrutinise them. There will also be a new London Development Agency to implement the Mayor’s economic and regeneration strategy. Similar agencies are due to be established in all regions of the UK and they are part of an overall plan leading to a form of regional government.

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Benchmarking for performance in Executive Agencies

Headlines, PublicNet: 25 March, 1998

Next Steps Executive Agencies are being urged to compare themselves with private sector organisations, the wider public service and overseas organisations. Dr David Clark, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, who presides over the Office of Public Service, believes that this is one way in which they can search out best practice which might help to improve the quality and efficiency of services. In doing this they will be able to take full advantage of the potential released by continuing advances in information technology.Benchmarking is a well tried technique in agencies. A pilot project was launched in June 1996 to test whether the European Business Excellence Model could be used to identify best practice and highlight areas where organisations can learn from each other. Some 30 agencies, employing 200,000 people took part in the pilot. The results showed that agencies scored well in customer satisfaction, policy, strategy and management of financial resources. They scored less well in leadership and human resources. The use of the Business Excellence Model has been extended to other agencies.

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Stakeholder power for health service staff

Headlines, PublicNet: 23 March, 1998

NHS Staff are to be empowered by having a greater say in improving patient services in the health service. A task force made up of nurses, doctors and a porter will advise Ministers on how greater involvement the one million staff can contribute to raising standards.Health Minister Alan Milburn said the task force would play an important role in unlocking the untapped potential in the NHS. He is looking to them to find ways in which front line staff can work with local managers to improve the way care is delivered in 1200 hospitals.

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Preparing for regional government

Headlines, PublicNet: 20 March, 1998

The decks are being cleared for regional government. Nine Regional Development Agencies are to be set up by April 1999 to develop and implement regional economic strategies. The Agencies will co-ordinate the activities of other bodies such as local authorities and Government regional offices. The north west region, for historic reasons, had two Government offices based in Manchester and Liverpool. It has been announced that, although a presence will be maintained in both locations, the offices will merge to form a North West regional office. The new combined office will be opened by October in time for the establishment of the shadow Regional Development Agency. This now means there will be a one to one relationship between Government offices and the Agencies throughout the UK.The other development that will ultimately lead to a form of regional government will be the setting up of voluntary Regional Chambers which will bring together elected representatives from local authorities and other regional partners. The relationship between the Voluntary Chambers and the Agencies has been set out in some detail and it is clear that Agencies will be required to consult the Chambers on their corporate plans and to be open to their scrutiny.

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Contributions Agency to merge with Inland Revenue

Headlines, PublicNet: 18 March, 1998

The Contributions Agency, an executive agency of the Department of Social Security, is to merge with the Inland Revenue in April 1999. Most of the agency’s 8,000 staff will join the 50,000 strong Inland Revenue, but there will be about 200 job losses.The aims of the merger are to give a better service to businesses and improve the effectiveness of compliance measures. There will also be some efficiency savings.

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Local Government Management Board facing axe

Headlines, PublicNet: 16 March, 1998

A task group looking at how the LGMB relates to the Local Government Association has produced proposals for scrapping the Board. When the LGA was launched in April 1997 as the successor to the separate local authority organisations it changed the dynamics of the local government scene which involves 2 million staff with a pay bill of £34b and some 22,000 elected councillors . Before this change, the LGMB was the sole ‘representative body’ for councils with across the board funding and governance. The LGMB has an £18m budget and 250 staff and when it was formed in 1991 there was little choice in giving functions such as: employee relations; management practice and policy related programmes to the Board. Now the LGA speaks with a single voice for all councils and has a responsibility for policy and management issues.The review task group has produced a consultation paper with options for reallocating the responsibilities. They believe it will be possible to deliver more for the same budget. None of the options envisage retaining the LGMB. The thrust of the paper is that where there is overlap between the Board and the LGA, those responsibilities should be transferred to the latter. The residual work of training and development and employee relations would be carried out by an arms length agency. A further option is to have a separate agency for employee relations.

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Patient power in drive to modernise NHS

Headlines, PublicNet: 13 March, 1998

Health Minister Alan Milburn believes that restoring public confidence is the key to modernising the NHS and this involves empowerment of patients. He said: “It is the public’s health service. And it has to respond better to public views. I want to see the NHS opened up to greater public scrutiny and patient involvement than ever before.”This move to patient empowerment represents a significant challenge and a major change in culture. The internal market demanded a degree of secrecy with decisions taken behind closed doors. The message from Mr Milburn now is that “The NHS needs to listen more. The new NHS will reward openness.”

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Bright future for outsource leader

Headlines, PublicNet: 12 March, 1998

The Capita Group, which is the leading provider of outsourced human resource services in the UK, is expecting to benefit from Government initiatives to improve services. Local and central government markets form the core of its business.Rod Aldridge, Chairman and Chief Executive of the Group said: “We are well positioned to support the drive to find new solutions to central service provision and our advice and participation is being actively sought in a number of areas, including welfare reform and education.” He added that the Best Value initiative in local government will encourage continued outsourcing.

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Technology for better government on display

Headlines, PublicNet: 11 March, 1998

Information technology that will be used by government in the future has gone on display in Manchester as part of a European conference on Better Government. It gives a glimpse of how the next century might look with people dealing with government from their own homes, their offices and in public places.Digital TV will give access to government services and instead of going to a Natwest Bank to use the experimental system to advise departments about a new business start up, it will be possible to do it from home. Touch screen kiosks on display are being used in trials around the country. It is planned to install them in shopping centres, libraries and post offices giving people the opportunity to renew passports and driving licences and deal directly with officials in remote offices about a whole range of issues.

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