06 November 2008
The opening of Heathrow airport's Terminal 5 was 'a national embarrassment', MPs on the Commons transport select committee said in a report published on November 3. The MPs said that more than 23,000 bags went missing and more than 500 flights were cancelled on March 27 as a result of 'a catalogue of failings'. This included a fractious relationship between British Airways and the airport's owner BAA. Committee chair Louise Ellman said: 'What should have been an occasion for national pride was in fact an occasion of national embarrassment.' Better preparation and more effective joint working would have avoided 'the chaotic scenes', the MPs said.
The number of people being funded by their local authority to live in residential or nursing care homes has fallen by 4% over the past year, but more people are being funded to live independently at home, statistics for 2008 have shown. The NHS Information Centre released Community care statistics 2008: supported residents (adults), England on October 30. This said two-thirds of councils had met a government target to support 34% of people 'intensively at home', referring to those who were either supported at home or in residential care, by March 2008.
The CBI business lobby has said partnerships between companies and universities are 'critical to maintaining UK competitiveness'. In a report, Stepping higher, the CBI said universities should market themselves by running courses on employers' premises, while business should look to work with higher education to design relevant training programmes. David Eastwood, chief executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, said universities were already drawing on their unique strengths and expertise to give businesses the capability they needed. However, there was more that could be done to make it easier for partnerships to develop.
A £330m programme to enhance the ability of England's fire and rescue services to respond to terrorist attacks and natural disasters was hampered by poor management following its launch after the September 11 attacks in 2001. This resulted in delays and significant cost overruns, the National Audit Office has said. In the report, New dimension: enhancing the Fire and Rescue Service's capacity to respond to terrorist and other large-scale incidents, published on October 31, the NAO also said an £867,200 fraud in the programme went undetected for nine months. Management
of the programme had improved recently, the NAO found, but weaknesses such as uncertainty around the roles of national co-ordinating bodies needed to be addressed.
Health minister Ben Bradshaw has announced proposed changes to the GP quality incentive scheme, the Quality and Outcomes Framework. Under the proposals, announced on October 30, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence would in future oversee the annual process of reviewing clinical indicators. 'We want to ensure that GP practices continue to deliver more improvements to patient care, and the system needs to evolve to support practices in achieving even better outcomes for patients,' Bradshaw said.
Up to £5m is to be committed to promoting new ways to encourage community participation in planning, Communities Secretary Hazel Blears has confirmed. The new grants are part of a government drive to put communities in control, strengthen active citizenship and give people more say over local services. Too often decisions became contentious because of the perceived lack of public involvement, which left under-represented groups frustrated and disenchanted, Blears said.