Archives for December 2001

THE ETHICS CHALLENGE IN PUBLIC SERVICE: A PROBLEM-S0LVING GUIDE

Book News, PublicNet: 24 December, 2001

Carol W. LewisEthics in public service is a hot topic in today’s headlines. This detailed guide provides public managers with the practical tools and techniques they need to make ethical choices in the ambiguous pressured world of public service. The book shows how applying ethical principles can be a powerful means of clarifying and resolving complex problems in an even more complex world.

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BOOST FOR ONE STOP GOVERNMENT SHOPS

Headlines, PublicNet: 24 December, 2001

The one stop government shop pilot running at more then 280 Post Offices in Leicestershire and Rutland was given a boost by the announcement of support from the Department of Trade and Industry for the proposed Universal Banking Service. The new Post Office Bank is an essential feature of plans to give postmasters the role of Government General Practitioners similar to that of a medical GP. They will act as a gateway to a wide range of government services and help customers use on-line facilities.The decision to support the bank means that when the use of pension and other benefits books is ended in April 2003 with the switch to electronic payment, some 16 million customers will continue to collect their benefits payments in cash at Post Office branches. Customers will have the choice of using a Post Office card account, a basic bank account or their existing account.

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WATCHDOG CALLS FOR BETTER MANAGEMENT OF DAY SURGERY

Headlines, PublicNet: 24 December, 2001

The Audit Commission has found that many NHS Trusts could improve the way they manage day surgery. It estimates that an additional 120,000 patients could be treated each year if the poor performing trusts came up to the standard of the best performers. Inmproving performance would also mean shorter waits for patients, outcomes at least as good as for the same procedures carried out as inpatient cases, and reduced costs for the health service.The auditors identified clinicians’ preferences for inpatient surgery as a barrier to more efficient use of resources. While some trusts treat 80 per cent of inguinal hernia patients as day cases, others treat none in this way. There are also wide variations in staff productivity between trusts performing the same operations in similar circumstances. In general it was found that productivity was higher in the larger day surgery units and this was attributed better quality management.

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CASH BOOST FOR LOCAL E-GOVERNMENT

Headlines, PublicNet: 21 December, 2001

Local councils in the UK, regardless of their size, will each receive 200,000 pounds in April 2002 to help them deliver improved services using new technology. They will also receive the same amount in the following two years, but only if they can demonstrate that they have made good progress and used the first tranche of money to good effect.The recently published Local Government White Paper Strong Local Leadership sets out a vision of partnership working, both between local councils and with other bodies in the private, public and voluntary sectors. The DTLR is seeking further evidence of how partnerships will contribute to delivering joined up, e.enabled services and details will be announced in the New year about additional funding that will be made available to partnships.

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RESHAPING THE TEACHING PROFESSION FOR THE 21ST CENTURY

Headlines, PublicNet: 21 December, 2001

A working party is being set up to discover how the teaching profession can best respond to the radical changes taking place in education. The key stakeholders who have been invited by Education Secretary Estelle Morris to take part include the teaching unions and employers, UNISON, OFSTED, the General Teaching Council, the National College for School Leadership and the Teacher Training Agency.The announcement earlier this month of the launch next September of ‘Curriculum Online’ makes clear the Government’s intention to transform learning in schools. The service will be the world’s first partnership between the Government, leading public/private broadcasters and innovative software producers to provide materials for every curriculum subject. It will bring new learning materials to teachers and pupils’ fingertips, enabling learning to become more flexible.

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THE CHANGING PUBLIC SECTOR: A PRACTICAL MANAGEMENT

Book News, PublicNet: 20 December, 2001

By Malcolm ProwleThe book gives a basic introduction to the recent changes in public sector organizations, particularly in the areas of strategy, finance, human resources, marketing, quality and information systems. It also outlines possible future developments.

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E-PROCUREMENT PILOTS GO LIVE

Headlines, PublicNet: 20 December, 2001

Accenture, Biomni and CapGemini Ernst & Young have launched pilot projects as part of the Office for Government Commerce e-procurement research programme. The purpose of the e-pilots contracts, which will run until 31 July 2002, is to establish government as an intelligent customer and successful user of e- procurement. They will look at key areas affecting the implementation of e-procurement processes for both government and supplier market places. On the government side this will encompass areas of business change and process efficiencies within government, whilst on the supplier side it will address the needs of the supplier base and e-system solution providers.Accenture, working with software partners Ariba and Epylon, will be implementing “buyn@w” on an Application Service Provider basis to the National Assembly for Wales, and providing a separate “Enterprise” basis for the Police IT Organisation.

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SUBSIDISED HOMES SCHEMES FOR KEY PUBLIC SECTOR WORKERS FAILING TO DELIVER

Headlines, PublicNet: 20 December, 2001

Subsidised schemes that provide a low-cost foot on the home ownership ladder for key public sector workers and others are being rapidly outstripped by demand. In Greater London, where the problem is more acute for teachers nurses and social care staff, some 41,000 applications were received in the last year from a whole range of eligible applicants, but the number of low-cost home ownership properties funded by the Housing Corporation was 1,300.Research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has revealed that demand for low-cost home ownership is particularly strong in areas where market prices are high. This includes schemes such as ‘Homebuy’, where would-be owners are helped to purchase properties with a subsidised loan, and ‘shared ownership’, where homes are part-purchased and part-rented.
The Foundation in its report ‘Swamps and alligators: The future for low-cost home ownership’ is critical of local authority decision-makers who it claims often fail to recognise the benefits of making shared ownership, and other low-cost schemes part of the mix when considering new housing developments in their area. By focusing on the immediate requirement for rent-only accommodation among households on their waiting lists, they neglect the strategic need to create sustainable, mixed-income communities.

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GATE ZERO LAUNCHED TO LIMIT MAJOR PROJECT DISASTERS

Headlines, PublicNet: 19 December, 2001

The Gateway review system introduced earlier in the year for all major complex central government procurement projects across construction, IT and property management, has been supplemented by a business test. Projects must now meet all the criteria in the Gate Zero test before they can proceed to the Gateway. The Gateway is made up from five stages in the project process, starting with the business case through to identifying benefits.Gate Zero is a technique which tests the viability of projects at inception. The benefits claimed are that it ensures firm user and stakeholder support, that the project is in line with government strategy
and that resources are actually available. Failure to address these issues in the past has contributed to the many project disasters.

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PATIENT NUMBERS MASSAGE REVEALED

Headlines, PublicNet: 19 December, 2001

Some hospitals that cannot meet the target of treating all patients within 18 months are manipulating records to enhance their performance. The National Audit Office, which carried out a selective audit of a limited number of hospitals, found that false information about waiting time had been produced by nine NHS trusts. This would indicate that the malpractices revealed by the auditors are fairly widespread. It is estimated that some 6000 patients were affected and in some cases their condition may have deteriorated during the longer wait.The auditors found evidence of deliberate manipulation over as much as four years at some hospitals. Record manipulation was the most widespread practice and this was achieved by using a two list system. Different criteria were used for excluding patients from the ‘official list’ which provided the database for the performance information In some cases patients were only added to the official list one month before they were treated. In another case only urgent patients were included. Another hospital simply excluded patients from the list when they passed the 18 month wait time. Because offering a patient an appointment, rather than actually carrying out the treatment, legitimately met the waiting time rule, one hospital offered appointments at short notice and when they knew patients would be on holiday. . Amending patient records, for example about date of treatment, was another device use to conceal actual performance.

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