Archives for September 2000

DSS STARTS MODERNISATION OF IT SERVICES

Headlines, PublicNet: 29 September, 2000

The Department of Social Security has chosen ARCWAY as the preferred bidder for a contract to provide a network and office services for headquarters and local Benefit offices throughout the UK. ARCWAY is a consortium headed by BT that includes Bull Information Systems Ltd and Sema Group UK Ltd.A major weakness of the department’s IT systems is that different benefits are processed on different computers which do not talk to each other. One knock on effect of this is that staff in local council offices responsible for payment of housing benefit have extreme difficulty in verifying claims. It is estimated that the annual loss from fraudulent housing benefit claims is 900 million pounds. The proposed network and office services will make the verification of claims for all benefits simpler and quicker.

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CREDIT CARDS TO SPEND NEW HOSPITAL BUDGETS

Headlines, PublicNet: 29 September, 2000

An initiative is being launched to improve the environment of hospital wards with the creation of new budgets for ward sisters and a trial of bank-style credit cards. Ward environment budgets will be worth a minimum of 5,000 pounds in 2001/02 with 2500 pounds being made available for the remainder of the current financial year.The budget can be spent on whatever the nurse managers’ consider will best enhance patient care or improve the working lives of staff. This includes improvements and repairs to the ward itself, medical and non-medical equipment, and consumables. The one restriction is the budgets cannot be spent on staff pay costs, or other staff related costs, such as training.

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NEW TECHNOLOGY TARGETS TO SUPPORT NEW SCHOOL STANDARDS

Headlines, PublicNet: 28 September, 2000

New targets to reduce the number of children who share a computer in school have been set to support higher standards in primary and secondary schools. The targets for 2004, which use a 1998 baseline, are to reduce sharing in secondary schools from one computer to nine children to one to five and in primary schools to reduce from one computer to eighteen to one to eight.The new computers will be used to raise standards across the board and not just for teaching Information, Communication and Technology skills. New technology will be brought into everyday lessons and enhance teaching in traditional subjects such as Maths, English, History and Geography. Computer learning has an impressive record in raising basic skills – in one study a literacy class packed over five months of progress into just one month when new technology was brought into lessons.

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MODERNISATION BOARD FOR HEALTH SERVICE

Headlines, PublicNet: 28 September, 2000

A Modernisation Board for the NHS has been set up to steer the 10 year Plan announced last July. Membership of the Board will include doctors, nurses, managers, people from the RCN, UNISON, the BMA and the medical royal colleges. There will also be representatives from patients groups and frontline staff.Other announcements made by Health Secretary Alan Millburn include pledges to create 7000 extra beds and build 100 new hospitals by 2004 and to make progressive cuts in maximum waiting times for hospital treatment from eighteen months to three months.

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ALCHEMY: TRANSFORMATION TO SERVICE EXCELLENCE

Abstracts, PublicNet: 28 September, 2000

Antonacopoulou E, Kandampully JThe Learning Organization, (UK), 2000 Vol 7 No 1

Start page: 13. No of pages: 10

Argues that the widespread recognition of the importance of employees in delivering high quality service to customers has shifted the focus of the debate concerning service quality from the tangible components of service (the product) to the intangible, i.e. the way that the product is delivered. Examines this shift, focusing on the role of employees in delivering the level of service which will gain the company advantage over its competitors. Suggests that employees can only make a personal difference to service quality if they are empowered to do so. Considers how this empowerment can be achieved, discussing how employees can be given the necessary encouragement to work creatively, and the ability and motivation to do so. Illustrates this with examples of US firms that have achieved this. Concludes that learning is central to empowerment and the achievement of service excellence, and points to the overlap between this analysis and the concept of the learning organization.

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THE GOVERNANCE NARRATIVE

Book News, PublicNet: 27 September, 2000

By R A W RhodesThe author provides a personal interpretation of the key findings of the Economic and Social Research Council’s Whitehall Programme. It tells the distinctive story of ‘governance’ – of fragmentation, networks, unintended consequences and diplomacy – challenging the dominant, managerial account of change in British government since 1979. He presents a view of the world in which networks rival markets and bureaucracy as ways of allocating resources and co-ordinating policy and its implementation.

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ELECTRONIC DETERRANT TO YOUTH CRIME

Headlines, PublicNet: 27 September, 2000

Electronic tagging, pagers and voice verification systems will be used in a scheme to check on the whereabouts of some 2500 persistent young offenders in a scheme to be launched in April 2001. It is estimated that about 25% of youth crime is committed by 3% of young offenders and targeted monitoring is thought to offer the prospect of cost effective crime reduction.Electronic tagging will allow checks to be made twice daily on the whereabouts of young offenders. Some offenders will be provided with pagers which will automatically remind them to call in. Calls will be recorded automatically and the voice verification system will be programmed only to accept calls from the offender.

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CALL FOR RETHINK OF INSPECTION ROLE

Headlines, PublicNet: 27 September, 2000

The increasing use of inspection to drive up performance of public services has led to an alliance of organisation in the health service and local government to call for a rethink of the inspection role. The Institute for Public Policy Research, the NHS Confederation, the Local Government Association and the Improvement and Development Association believe that inspection can play a more effective role in the Government’s proposals for public sector reform, but a culture change is needed for this to happen.The issue has become important because the inspection business is expanding rapidly. The Best Value inspection of local government was introduced recently and the NHS Plan proposes a comprehensive inspection regime for the health service.

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RESEARCH TO FIND WAYS TO END DIGITAL DIVIDE

Headlines, PublicNet: 26 September, 2000

A research centre is to be created to investigate the impact of new technology on society and spearhead the government’s drive to end the digital divide. The target to put all local and central government services on line by 2005 holds benefits for those who can make use of them, but it will create inequality for others.The centre, which will be funded by the Department for Education and Employment, will bring together individuals to form an expert body in the development, review and use of Information Communications Technology research nationally and internationally. It will carry out a programme of research, review and analysis designed to build up a comprehensive database of knowledge.

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NHS PLAN FAILS TO TACKLE HEALTH GAP

Headlines, PublicNet: 26 September, 2000

The 10 year Plan for improvement of the health service announced in July 2000 has been criticised by Julia Neuberger, Chief Executive of the Kings Fund. She claims that the Plan will not bridge the gap between the rich and the poor.Most of the initiatives to tackle health inequalities are short term and are mainly at the margins of the health service. Some groups of people appear to have been forgotten. The Government’s disappointing proposals on long-term care funding and its focus on preventing ill health among people under 75 leave older people out in the cold.

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