Archives for January 16th, 2004

WHAT IS THE FUTURE FOR TELEHEALTHCARE?

Headlines, PublicNet: 16 January, 2004

Telehealthcare and telemedicine have the potential for bringing radical change to health and social services. Bringing patients and clinicians together through an electronic link gives the opportunity to completely re-think how services are delivered. Efficiency and innovation are put forward as reasons for developing telehealthcare, but patient’s voices are almost absent from the debate. A team from the Centre for Health Services Research, at the University of Newcastle, wants the views of patients and consumer advocacy groups, as well as professionals in the various fields, on what is needed from this area of innovation.The application of telemedicine systems to clinical practice in the NHS is driven by the thrust of modernisation but it remains contentious, constrained by ideas about the evidence-base for health care provision. The clinical techniques that must be deployed are relatively underdeveloped, and the technologies through which they are mobilised are themselves unstable. Regardless of this reality, all health authorities are now required to develop an ICT strategy that includes the application of telemedicine to local problems. To aid this process, the team are examining issues of innovation, risk and governance in the development of policy and practice in the application of these technologies.

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THINK TANK CALLS FOR CULTURAL SHIFT IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Headlines, PublicNet: 16 January, 2004

The overview and scrutiny process introduced in 2002 as a vital part of the political management changes in local government, is not having the impact the Government expected. A report by the New Local Government Network concludes that overview and scrutiny is not yet embedded in the culture of all local councils, but it is working well in some cases. Even where a council is positive about the new decision making structures, the function can still lack the backing needed to make it effective.The role of overview and scrutiny committees is to scrutinise the Executive’s polices and the policy implementation and to suggest improvements. The research reveals that this is presenting a challenge to councils who are not required to implement the process in any prescribed way. The lack of prescription gives freedom to experiment and innovate, which has benefited a number of councils. The negative side is that this gives powerful executives and party groups the opportunity to frustrate the process and prevent change. The result is that the scrutiny function is struggling to emerge as a rigorous element of the new political management arrangements.

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