04 April 2008
The Housing and Regeneration Bill has been amended to ensure that the new social housing regulator will have to consult the Charity Commission before it imposes compulsory standards on charities that provide housing. The commission has been warning that, unless the Bill was amended, the independence of charitable housing providers could be undermined and they might be forced to undertake activities that conflicted with their charitable status. Rosie Chapman, the Charity Commission's director of policy, welcomed the government's change of heart, saying the amendments would 'have no impact on the effectiveness of the new regulator'.
Junior doctors are being required to work extra hours, often without pay, because of gaps in rotas, the British Medical Association has said. A BMA survey of trainee doctors revealed that three in ten are working on a rota with at least one vacancy. The association is blaming the inflexibility of the new medical training system for the problem and warns that it could be detrimental to patient care. Ram Moorthy, chair of the BMA's junior doctors' committee, said: 'It's fundamentally wrong for junior doctors to be pressured into working excessive hours. This was a problem that employers and the government could and should have foreseen, and it's unfair that doctors are having to prop up rotas without being paid for it.'
Nick Hardwick has been reappointed chair of the Independent Police Complaints Commission, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has announced. Hardwick has been chair since the IPCC was established in 2004, overseeing the recruitment and training of independent investigators and casework managers. A survey showed that almost two thirds of people have heard of the IPCC, and of those, the majority (88%) thought they would be treated fairly if they made a complaint. Hardwick said the figures showed that, despite the controversial nature of its work, the IPCC had maintained or improved public confidence.
The auditor general for Wales, Jeremy Colman, has urged local authorities to improve risk assessment and performance measurement to continue the development in public services. In a report from the Wales Audit Office on whether local authority services are improving, published on March 31, Colman said: 'While there is evidence of improvement and no significant change in the risks local authorities are facing… the challenge is to move beyond an approach based largely on risk reduction and put the emphasis firmly on effective performance management.'
The King's Fund charity has said the expansion of Patient Choice in the NHS from April 1 will not necessarily result in better services. In a report published on March 28, the fund says that patients need to have the necessary information to assess quality. Policy fellow Ruth Thorlby said: 'Free choice is not going to result in a rapid change in the quality of hospital services. Only if more people are aware of choice, patients and GPs are willing to shop around, and information on the quality of services is available, is there a potential to drive improvements.'
Cornwall Partnership NHS Trust has been released from the special measures regime after a Healthcare Commission report said it had made substantial progress in addressing failings in services for people with learning disabilities. The trust had been under the regime since July 2006 after a report highlighted 'years of abusive practices'. But it has managed 'a fundamental change in the services', said commission chief executive Anna Walker. Health Secretary Alan Johnson said: 'Systems are in place to measure improvement and it is important that the rate is sustained.'