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Government response to Francis Inquiry – PRimage comment

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

The government’s response to the Mid-Staffordshire NHS scandal has been dribbled out gradually but today we heard the extent of what will follow. It appears that we will see peer-reviewed regulation Ofsted-style ratings for hospitals, a “duty of candour” for NHS providers to their patients and a new training regime for nurses to ensure they practise the basics of caring for patients for at least a year before they nurse anyone.

As a specialist healthcare communications consultancy, PRimage has been reviewing the Government’s initial response to the Francis inquiry.  The response to the inquiry starts by setting out a five-point plan to “revolutionise” the care people receive from NHS and putting an end to failure.  Judy Viitanen believes that the Government has made a positive start to ensure that from now on compassion, dignity and respect will now be at the forefront of patient care.

Of course there is the growing groundswell of public opinion that says that the only thing that will prevent more such horrors as Mid Staffs is stripping power from producers and giving it to patients …. What’s your view?

The response focuses on these key issues: Preventing problems; Detecting problems quickly; Taking action promptly; Ensuring robust accountability, and Ensuring staff are trained and motivated.

Here are the key recommendations from the executive summary:

Preventing problems

At local level, commissioners will work with hospitals to identify and tackle poor care.

  • A chief inspector of hospitals will look into the culture of hospitals, driving change through fundamental standards and national ratings.
  • To ensure that paperwork, box ticking and duplicatory regulation and information burdens are reduced by at least one third.
  • A single national hub − the Health and Social Care Information Centre − will be collecting information; with a duty to seek to reduce information burden on the service year on year.
  • Professor Don Berwick is to work with NHS Commissioning Board (to be known in future as NHS England) to ensure a robust safety culture and zero tolerance of avoidable harm is embedded in the DNA of the NHS.

Detecting problems quickly

  • Chief inspector of hospitals to make assessments based on judgements as well as data.
  • They will become the nation’s whistle-blower.
  • The chief inspector will make an assessment of every NHS hospital’s performance, drawing on the views of inspectors, commissioners, local patients and the public.
  • The inspectors will be specialists not generalists.
  • They will oversee “comply or explain” approach. Good or best established practices that benefit the patients are expected to be used across the hospitals; otherwise a valid explanation needs to be given.
  • The Care Quality Commission will have the power to conduct ratings. It will work with Nuffield Trust to develop these proposals further.
  • Chief inspector to ensure there is “single version of the truth” − single assessment that fully reflects how hospitals are performing, not just targets but also things that matter to patients.
  • “Friends and family” test will be vital component of the ratings.
  • There will be new chief inspector of social care. They will be charged with rating care homes and local care services.
  • Information about hospitals will not be limited to aggregated ratings but it will be possible to drill down to information at a department, specialty care group and condition-specific level.
  • As a starting point, NHS England will extend transparency on surgical outcomes from heart surgery to cardiology, vascular surgery, upper-gastro intestinal surgery, colorectal surgery, orthopaedic surgery, bariatric surgery, urological surgery, head and neck surgery and thyroid and endocrine surgery.
  • Tough penalties and perhaps additional legal action for organisations that are found to be massaging truths or concealing truths about their performance.
  • A statutory duty of candour on providers.
  • A ban on clauses intended to prevent public interest disclosures.
  • A review of best practice on complaints.

Taking action promptly

  • The CQC (with NICE commissioners, professionals, patients and the public) will draw up a new set of simpler fundamental standards which make explicit the basic standards beneath which care should never fall.
  • A new time-limited three-stage failure regime. At the first stage, commissioners will work with the hospital board.
  • In the second stage, if commissioners fail, the CQC will call Monitor or the NHS Trust Development Authority to take action.
  • In the final stage, the chief inspector will initiate a failure regime, if problems still not resolved.

Ensuring robust accountability

  • The CQC will refer criminally negligent practices, identified by the chief inspector, to the Health and Safety Executive for them to consider criminal prosecution.
  • Barring failed NHS managers, with a system based on the barring scheme for teachers.

Ensuring staff are trained and motivated

  • Healthcare assistant training before nursing and other degrees.
  • Every student who seeks funding for nursing degrees should first serve up to a year as a healthcare assistant (this scheme will be piloted first).
  • Camilla Cavendish is reviewing how to best ensure healthcare assistants can provide safe and compassionate care.
  • Chief inspector will ensure that employers meet their registration requirements that all health and care support workers are properly trained and inducted before they start caring for people.
  • A programme will be initiated by NHS Leadership Academy to encourage new talent form clinical professionals and from outside of the NHS into top leadership.
  • An elite fast-track programme and an MBA-style programme to ensure clinicians with a talent for leadership are supported.
  • Frontline experience for Department of Health staff

Welcome to PRimage

Friday, February 1st, 2013

Bill Gates once said, “If I was down to my last dollar, I’d spend it on public relations.”

That’s quite an endorsement for the value of PR.

If you want to make 2013 the year that your company or product maximises the value of strategic and results-led PR, we can help.

PRimage offers you fresh ideas and a wealth of experience. Our experience spans most industries – and we offer specialist insights in health, well-being, property and social media.

Our social media marketing services cover daily management of your business Facebook page(s), Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and company blog postings – all strategically structured to work in synergy to increase brand awareness. We maximise our three decades of public relations and marketing experience and our 360-degree deep immersion in social media to help connect ideas, trends, products and people!

New for 2013 is our PR & Marketing Package for Start-ups – aimed at new companies who need to get their budding business and products off to a healthy start.

Download our credentials presentation to learn more about our services and how PRimage create the buzz to help you stand out and get noticed!

Judy Viitanen and the PRimage team are sure your business will benefit from our cost-effective services and client-orientated approach.

When you’ve reviewed our presentation and you’re ready to find out more, please contact us for a free consultation.

PRimage PP Credentials

Budget Basics – The Budget 2012: Changes That Will Affect You

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

So …. After all the speculation and hype, George Osborne has finally revealed all. The draw down of Afghan operations has given the Chancellor a £2.4bn bonus.

Tax
Income Tax
  • Personal allowance will rise by an extra £1,100 in April 2013 in addition to the increase to £8,105 already scheduled for this April.
  • This means you’ll be able to earn £9,205 before you pay any tax.
  • The 50% ‘high earner’ tax rate will be lowered to 45% from April 2013.
National Insurance
  • The plan to merge Income Tax & National Insurance is still likely to go ahead.
Tax for pensioners
  • The age-related additional personal allowance will be phased out to leave a single personal allowance that applies to all.
  • This will be rolled out from April 2013 and, according to Osborne, no one receiving a pension will lose out because of it.
VAT
  • Loopholes in the VAT system will be closed to reduce tax avoidance.
  • The current VAT exemptions on food, children’s clothes, books and newspapers will not be affected.
Tax statements
  • Personal tax statements will be sent to all taxpayers.
  • These will set out your average tax rate for the year, how much tax and NI you’ve paid in total and how this has funded both public spending and public debt.
Corporation tax
  • Corporation tax will be cut by 1% today in addition to the 1% reduction scheduled for April – together this will take the UK rate of corporation tax to 24%.
  • Two further cuts are scheduled for next year so by 2014 UK corporation tax will be reduced to 22%.
  • To ensure these cuts don’t benefit the banks the bank levy rate will be increased to 0.105% next January.
Other tax
  • Capital gains tax on residential properties owned by companies will be introduced.
  • A cap on tax relief for high earners will be introduced in April 2013. This means anyone that claims upwards of £50,000 in tax relief will be limited to receive a maximum of 25% of their income.
  • A general tax avoidance rule will be introduced to tackle tax evasion, details of which will be set out next year.
Benefits
Child benefit
  • The child benefit cut for higher rate tax payers will stay but changes have been made.
  • Those earning less than £50,000 will get to keep child benefit.
  • Those earning more than £50,000 will have their child benefit payments reduced by 1% for every £100 they earn over the £50k threshold.
  • Those earning more than £60,000 will not receive child benefit payments.
Housing
Affordable housing
  • The Get Britain Building scheme that extends funding to companies that build new houses will be upgraded to encourage affordable property development.
Stamp duty
  • Individual-owned residential properties worth over £2 million will be liable for 7% stamp duty.
  • The stamp duty rate will increase to 15% for residential properties that are bought by a company.
  • The government will investigate retrospective stamp duty charges for residential properties already owned by companies.
Armed forces
  • An extra £100 million will be used to improve accommodation for those in the armed forces.
  • Members of the armed forces serving overseas will also benefit from 100% council tax relief.
  • This will be funded by a £2.4 billion saving on the cost of operations in Afghanistan.
Planning permission
  • Next week the government will publish an overhaul of planning regulations that should make applications for planning permission far simpler.
Alcohol & Tobacco
Alcohol
  • There will be no change to taxation on alcohol.
Tobacco
  • Duty on all tobacco products will rise by 5% above inflation at 6pm tonight.
  • This will increase the cost of an ‘average’ pack of cigarettes by 37p.
Transport
Fuel
  • There will be no additional changes to fuel duty.
  • The Fair Fuel Stabiliser will still apply so fuel duty will go down when the cost of fuel rises and increase when fuel prices fall.
Road tax
  • Vehicle Excise Duty will increase by inflation only.
Trains
  • Rail links to the North of England will be improved.
  • The London underground and train network will be extended.
Flights
  • Additional airports may be built in the South East of England.
Employment & Education
Employment
  • Local authorities will be given the flexibility to introduce local pay rates for civil servants whose pay freezes end this year.
  • This is to bring public sector pay in line with wages available in the private sector.
  • There will be investment in manufacturing with the aim of doubling UK exports.
  • New Enterprise Zones will be introduced in Scotland, Wales and Ireland.
Education
  • A scheme that extends Enterprise Loans to young people to start and grow their own businesses will be piloted later this year.
Pensions
State pension
  • A single rate, contribution-based pension that pays a minimum of £140 will be introduced for future pensioners in the next Parliament.
  • Plans for an automatic review of the state pension age will be published this summer.
Entertainment
Sunday trading
  • Sunday trading laws will be relaxed for eight consecutive Sundays from 22nd July to coincide with the Olympics.
Broadband
  • Ultrafast broadband will be rolled out in 10 of the UK’s biggest cities.
  • A number of smaller cities will also benefit from ultrafast broadband speeds.
  • Improvements will be made to broadband connection speeds in rural areas.
Entertainment industry
  • UK companies that produce video games, animation or high end TV programmes will be eligible for tax relief.
  • A new gambling duty on games machines will be introduced.

HAPPY 2012! Love and best wishes from Judy Viitanen and PRimage

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

☆¸.•°*”˜˜”*°•.¸☆ ★ ☆¸.•☆☆¸.•°*”˜˜”*°•.¸☆

In 2012….I hope the kindness you’ve given to others returns many times to you.
May you have the hindsight to know where you’ve been,
The foresight to know where you’re going,
And the insight to know when you’re going too far.
May hope, love, and warmth be in your heart’s possessing,
And may the New Year bring you and yours many blessings.
Happy New Year!

Judy Viitanen

Health Bill – PRimage comment

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

PRimage has heard that on the day that the British Medical Association votes to launch a public campaign which calls for the withdrawal of the Government’s controversial Health Bill, a survey of 500 GPs shows 85% said they had not been reassured by the government’s response to the listening exercise, with a further 62% saying their support for the reforms has not been altered by the changes to the Health Bill.

We were interested to see that many of the GPs concerns centered on the areas that as a healthcare lobbyist, Judy Viitanen believes are the very real and inherent issues around the Bill – such as increased bureaucracy in the NHS, the impact on patient care and the cost of the re-organisation.  What are your views?  We’d love to hear them.

Pessimism on both sides of the pond? PRimage comment

Friday, July 15th, 2011

In the UK we are going through tough times, but Americans are deeply pessimistic about the future, according to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll – over 63% believe that their country is on the wrong track.

We found this an interesting article and viewpoint on the dynamics across the pond: This Is No Time for Games – WSJ.com http://t.co/gt6tfTB

PRimage has read that a rule of thumb in presidential polling is that when the “wrong track” number is in the “60s,” the incumbent’s prospects for re-election are sharply diminished.  Watch this space!

Taking politics to the people …. PRimage loves this!

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

 

The ‘joys’ of political canvessing! …..

Budget 2011 – PRimage Comment: Not bad, given the circumstances!

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Spent time this afternoon trying to assess the Budget announcements …. And overall, our view at PRimage is: ‘not too bad, considering the circumstances’. The eye-catching Budget headlines are, of course, on fuel and corporation tax. Nice to finally see a little bit of light relief for the motorists of this country!

As the owner of a small business, Judy Viitanen was especially interested in the announcements relating to business – noted George Osborne signalling his desire to merge National Insurance and income tax. Osborne is ideologically a fiscal conservative, and this move paves the way for a low-tax future, by convincing Brits they pay too much tax!

Osborne also announced the Government’s Plan for Growthhttp://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/ukecon_growth_index.htm?dm_i=3QN,E7KN,K8LG6,14ROS,1 – a package of measures aimed at supporting private sector investment, enterprise and innovation. This includes measures to increase the competitiveness of the UK tax system; reduce the burden of regulation; and increase incentives for business investment.

Key measures in the Budget for businesses include:

  • A reduction in the main rate of corporation tax by a further one per cent. From April 2011, the rate will be reduced to 26 per cent with further yearly reductions of one per cent until 2014 when it will reach 23 per cent;
  • New Controlled Foreign Company rules to allow groups based in the UK to compete more effectively with those based overseas;
  • The abolition of 43 tax reliefs whose rationale is no longer valid – following recommendations from the Office of Tax Simplification;
  • Dropping existing proposals for specific regulations which would have cost business over £350m a year;
  • £100m for local authorities to repair potholes caused by the cold winter weather;
  • Increase the rate of R&D tax credits for small and medium-sized enterprises from 175 per cent to 225 per cent by April 2012;
  • 21 new Enterprise Zones, to focus growth in specific parts of the UK;
  • Fuel duty will be cut by one penny per litre from 6pm on March 23. The April 2011 inflation-only increase in fuel duty will be deferred to 1 January 2012; the April 2012 increase will be implemented on 1 August 2012;
  • A further increase to the income tax personal allowance for under 65s of £630 to £8,105 in April 2012;
  • Additional work experience placements and additional apprenticeships for young people;
     
  • Help for homeowners facing difficulties by extending the temporary changes to the Support for Mortgage Interest Scheme for an additional year and providing £250m to support first time buyers to purchase a new-build property.

Prescription charges in England increased – PRimage comment

Friday, March 4th, 2011

PRimage is not happy that as from April 1st the Government is to increase prescription charges for patients in England by 20 pence to £7.40 per item! This is in contrast to the decision this week by the Scottish Parliament to abolish charges for patients north of the border …

As a specialist healthcare lobbyist, with in-depth knowledge on the issues surrounding the system of prescription charges, Judy Viitanen has long believed that the current system in England is totally unfair and needs reviewing. PRimage have consistently lobbied and supported the well-argued case for a total abolition of prescription charges: it is an important issue that has growing public support. In our opinion, free prescriptions are a long term investment in improving health. Free prescriptions should be seen as a long term investment in improving health – and would be beneficial for those with poorer health and in particular those with long term conditions.

Pharmacy’s place in the new NHS

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

For anyone involved in the UK community pharmacy and pharma industry sectors, Judy Viitanen recommends checking out the useful and directional guide on the NHS reforms by the trade journal, C&D.  PRimage found it very helpful in understanding the bodies that will influence community pharmacy in the new NHS.  You can find the guide on the C&D website.

www.chemistanddruggist.co.uk