Archives for December 2nd, 2003

MORE POWER TO THE PATIENT

Headlines, PublicNet: 2 December, 2003

A new health watchdog, Patient and Public Involvement Forums, has started the job of monitoring and reviewing health services from the patient’s perspective. The Forums replace the Community Health Councils which for 29 years have protected the interests of health service patients. The Councils mainly operated reactively by investigating complaints. It is planned that the Forums will take a proactive approach and give the public a voice in the decisions that affect their health. The new arrangements mean that patients will now be involved in policy and implementation from the very top of the NHS through the Modernisation Boards right through to the grass roots level.The wider role of the Forums will include making unannounced visits to premises including those of GPs, dentists and pharmacists. They will be able to ask for any information relevant to their functions. Forums will be given a general power to refer matters of concern to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee of the local council.

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ROAD MAP TO LOCAL PUBLIC SERVICE PAY

Headlines, PublicNet: 2 December, 2003

The Treasury expects public service organizations to update their pay and workforce strategies over the coming months to reflect the local pay policy announced by Chancellor Gordon Brown in his last Budget Statement. In the Statement he made it clear that because the public service accounts for around a fifth of the economy, it has a pronounced effect on whether the private sector is able to operate efficiently. The remits of key public service departments and agencies are being amended to increase the amount of regional and local pay flexibility across the public service labour market. Guidance from the Treasury on how to achieve this aim notes that the degree of regional and local flexibility of public service pay is less than in the private sector. It makes it clear that there should be closer links between pay setting and local labour markets.Although national pay bargaining within the civil service, health, education and other areas will remain, ‘local positioning’ will have to be built into the national pay arrangements. There is a wide range of options below national level ranging from regional differentiation at the coarsest level to individual service provider units at the opposite end of the scale. The Guidance makes it clear that the choice of pay model will depend on the circumstances, including the stage of implementation of local pay and the quality of information available to make decisions. Because of the need for simplicity and practicability it is likely that there will be few differentiations, possibly defined by localities or by a number of localities grouped into one or more zones covering the country as a whole according to the cost of living and labour market characteristics.

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CARING AND COUNTING

Features, PublicNet: 2 December, 2003

By Tracey Reynolds, Claire Callender and Rosalind Edwards The authors set out to identify the impact of mothers’ employment on family and relationships and this they do. They also discovered that what happens while mothers’ are at work is hugely important in relation to what happens at home. They offer suggestions for family-friendly workplace policies and practices.

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