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May 2022
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Bright Initiative: Global data for good Initiative expands support for the UK’s National Data Strategy with new partnerships

  • Bright Initiative has joined the UK Government-backed Data Skills Taskforce to help tackle the UK’s data skills challenges
  • Initiative also set to begin work with members of the UK Parliament on an inquiry investigating issues around governance and ethics in data and Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • New collaborations complement ongoing support for UK Government officials delivering the country’s National Data Strategy (NDS) and take the number of worldwide Bright Initiative partners past 500.

The Bright Initiative, a global programme and organisation by Bright Data that uses public web data to drive positive change, is stepping up its support for the UK’s National Data Strategy (NDS) with two new major partnerships. Already part of the NDS Forum, which the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) established to drive the Strategy forward, the Initiative is now set to provide industry-leading expertise, insight and data-collection capabilities in support of work looking at skills and ethics.

Significantly, the Initiative has joined the Data Skills Taskforce. Backed by the UK Government, the Taskforce brings together figures from industry, the public sector, academia and others to share knowledge and develop innovative solutions to meeting the UK’s data science and AI skills needs. As a member of the Taskforce the Bright Initiative will play a vital role in ensuring that action is taken to guarantee the skilled workforce needed to meet the NDS aim of establishing the UK as a pioneering data economy.

The Initiative will also work with members of the UK Parliament on an Inquiry looking at issues around ethics and governance with data and AI. The Initiative is to join with cross-party members of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Data Analytics to look in depth at how regulation and policy can keep up with the fast pace of technological change. The Inquiry will gather evidence and carry out research over the coming months towards publishing a report later this year, The Bright Initiative will help guide the process as a member of the Inquiry’s steering group.

These new partnerships build on the work that the Bright Initiative has done to support the NDS over the past year, which has included facilitating discussions among industry figures and education institutions and advising Government officials developing plans to implement the Strategy. The Initiative also recently published ‘Unlocking net-zero’ – a white paper looking in detail at how data can be used to tackle the climate emergency, the focus of one the NDS Forum’s workstreams.

The news means that the Initiative has now passed the significant milestone of having 500 active partnerships with a wide range of organisations around the world, including NGOs, NPOs, academic institutions & public bodies. All are now enjoying the benefits of pro-bono access to Bright Data’s leading data technology and expertise, in line with the Initiative’s mission to use the power of web data to improve the world.

Or Lenchner, CEO of Bright Data – the industry leading web data collection platform that powers the Bright Initiative, said:

“I’m delighted to expand the Bright Initiative’s support for the National Data Strategy with these exciting new partnerships. As a founding member of the NDS Forum we know that collaboration across multiple sectors and industries is key to unlocking the full power of data. Industry, policymakers and civil society organisations all have a role to play in shaping the right policies, developing the skills base and ensuring that data is effectively utilised in addressing society’s most vital needs. That’s why we’re so pleased to welcome these new partners to our worldwide programme.”

Going waterless could cut public sector urinal running costs by more than half at the same time as slashing CO2

Vortex triple seal valve (TSV)

Public sector organisations could more than halve urinal running costs, at the same time as slashing CO2, by switching to waterless urinals. The findings, announced by Smarti Environmental to coincide with Water Saving Week 2022 (23-27 May), show that savings of over £1,200 are possible for every three urinals retrofitted with waterless technology.

The dramatic cost-savings are possible with the installation of Smarti Environmental’s latest product, the newly launched eco-friendly Vortex triple seal valve (TSV), which has been designed to cut urinal water bills by over half, at the same time as dramatically lowering carbon footprints, eliminating bad urinal smells, blockages and eradicating the spread of infections caused by flushing urinals.

The smart-tech, eco-friendly, retro-fit Vortex valve ends the need for water in urinals, saving on average 100,000 litres of clean water and 105kg CO2 per urinal, per year. It also prevents airborne infections caused by spray during flushing, which has been shown to spread 500,000 germs per inch, per flush, landing on skin, surfaces and clothing, spreading viruses including Covid-19, influenza and norovirus.

The Vortex TSV, which fits 98% of all urinals, enables businesses to retain their existing urinal bowls while cutting annual running costs by over 50%, compared to conventional water-flush alternatives.

Based on average water bills across the UK, Smarti Environmental’s Vortex valve provides an annual saving of circa £630 on a typical bay of three urinals supplied by one cistern, rising to a saving of up to circa £1,230 in the South West.

Confirmed as the fastest flowing waterless urinal solution on the market, the fully recyclable, British-manufactured, hygienic one-way multi valve system, traps all odours so that the foul drain smells become a thing of the past.

The Vortex valve also accelerates the flow of urine down into the drainpipe, and includes an eco-friendly bio-block enzyme ring and integrated bio-tablet which breaks down uric acid and bio film proteins during use, making the urine PH neutral – a world first! This means less energy is required in sewerage treatment processing, reducing environmental impact. When the enzyme ring depletes, it turns from blue to clear, ready to be replaced using a simple non-touch key change-out system.

Combined with Smarti Environmental’s SteriKleer enzyme in-pipe pipe-pods, the Vortex multi-valve solution actively lubricates sewerage pipes, breaking down all biofilms and uric salts in pipework to prevent blocked pipes.

With the absence of water, calcium build-up caused by a chemical reaction between water and urine cannot occur. This ends the all-too-common experience of bad drain smells, floods and overflow when water-flush urinal pipes become calcified and back-up. Importantly, this prevents expensive and entirely avoidable plumbing and maintenance costs often experienced by public sector bodies.

Using 100% environmentally friendly enzyme technology – including its 24-hour odour and bacteria suppressing SteriKleen surface spray – Smarti Environmental technology also eliminates the need for harsh bleaches, cleaning fluids or drain un-blockers, further enhancing its environmental benefits to customers and cutting costs.

Commenting on the launch of the all-new Vortex TSV Valve, Kimberley Hill, New Business Development Manager at Smarti Environmental, the UK’s leading waterless urinal business, said: “In the public sector, clean, fresh-smelling and free-flowing urinals that don’t get blocked by uric salt build-up and biofilms, really matters. Members of the public and staff remember the good, the bad and the ugly.

“Fitting waterless Vortex TSV triple seal valves guarantees an end to foul-smelling urinals, but more than that, it allows you to share the environmental benefits that going waterless brings; a fact that tax-payers increasingly look for, appreciate and remember, especially as the world moves to Net Zero status.”

Kimberley added: “We’re committed to helping the public sector cut carbon and costs through the adoption of the waterless urinals. That’s why this Water Savings week, we are pledging to offer public sector bodies with 100 or more urinals under their management, a free washroom trial for 3 months, and free installation of our retro-fit waterless valves. Smaller public sector organisations can benefit too, as our waterless technology brings overall running costs down by more than 50% compared to the cost of running conventional flushing urinals.”

As part of the Vortex TSV valve offer, Smarti Environmental undertakes a free site survey, identifying the current amount of water used and projected savings. For the trial, urinal drainage pipes are checked and, if in need of replacement, are installed at no cost within the fully serviced package option. Cisterns are removed and waterless valves fitted, all typically in just one day, minimising down-time.

Visit for more information or call 01392 311 202 for a no obligation washroom survey and quote.

Veteran homelessness rising sharply warn leading charities

Local authorities and housing providers being asked to ‘think veteran’

Charities providing support to former members of the Armed Forces have seen a rise in the number of homeless veterans seeking their help over the past two years. With further increases expected, they’re asking local authorities and housing providers to identify veterans and steer them towards the support they’re entitled to.

The group of 12 charities, including the Sir Oswald Stoll Foundation (Stoll), Alabaré, Haig Housing, Help for Heroes, RAF Benevolent Fund and Housing Options Scotland, attribute the increase to the impact of the pandemic and the rising cost of living. Since March 2020, some organisations report a 50% jump in veterans who are either homeless or at risk of homelessness coming to them for support. Many are also seeing a growing number of people with mental health issues, particularly PTSD and depression.

The charities say help to find appropriate housing is available for former members of the Armed Forces, but people are missing out because they aren’t identified as veterans. The group is now backing the No Homeless Veterans Campaign, which calls on local authorities, housing providers and other homelessness services to ensure they identify veterans, include them in housing strategies, and help them find suitable housing as quickly as possible.

Richard Gammage, CEO of Stoll, which is coordinating the No Homeless Veterans Campaign, said: “Some former members of the Armed Forces, especially the most vulnerable, were already struggling before the pandemic. Now with the knock-on effects of Covid-19 and the cost-of-living crisis beginning to bite, we’re seeing a steep rise in veterans experiencing homelessness and in people with more severe and complex needs. We’re concerned that without action, the situation could get much worse.”

The charities say that despite the Government’s recent efforts to end rough sleeping, the pandemic has exacerbated the problem.

Andrew Lord, CEO of Alabaré, said: “During the pandemic, the Everyone In initiative was a monumental collaborative effort that saw rough sleepers housed in hotels and other protections for renters put in place. As a result, many lives were saved. But now we’re seeing existing challenges such as social isolation, anxiety and stress becoming even worse than before, and the progress made is falling away.”

The No Homeless Veterans Campaign says a more coordinated approach between local authorities, housing providers, homelessness charities and veterans’ organisations is needed. This would ensure veterans don’t continue to slip through the net.

One man who experienced this is Terry. For more than 20 years, he served in the Army and the Reserves, including in Bosnia and Iraq. He left in 2018 after being diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer. “Because I had been renting before I was admitted to hospital, I lost my property – so when I was discharged from the hospital, I became homeless. The local authority didn’t help. They were told I was a veteran, and that I was in very bad shape – but still, I ended up going straight from hospital to a homeless shelter.    

“I was so ill. I needed a stable home where I could get better and rebuild my life. Luckily, I was put in touch with Stoll. They helped me with housing straight away. I know local councils are stretched, but we need to be doing more to help veterans. Every local council should be proactively trying to find homeless veterans and help them into housing, as per the Armed Forces Covenant. And whenever someone comes to them for help to get out of homelessness, they should be asking whether they are a veteran. Without that more people like me will just fall through the net – and veterans deserve better than that.”

Tim Stockings, CEO of Haig Housing, said: “The Armed Forces Covenant states that anyone who has served should face no disadvantage and that veterans who are especially vulnerable should be prioritised for support. Most veterans do make a smooth transition from military to civilian life, but it is too easy for them to end up homeless.”

The No Homeless Veterans Campaign, which is led by the Cobseo (Confederation of Service Charities) Housing Cluster, is renewing efforts to equip local authorities and housing providers to ‘think veteran’ with a range of free toolkits and training. On 17 May it hosted an event at the House of Lords to brief MPs and other stakeholders. The Campaign is coordinated by Stoll, in partnership with Homeless Link and the National Housing Federation, and it is funded by the Forces in Mind Trust.


Goupil Utility Vehicles to take centre stage on Bradshaw stand

The UK’s leading manufacturer of industrial electric vehicles, Bradshaw, is set to exhibit its range of Goupil utility vehicles at one of the industry’s leading trade shows, ITT Hub on Stand No: A332

The two-day show, which takes place on the 11th/12th May at the Farnborough International Exhibition & Conference Centre, will bring together the latest innovations and technologies for the bus, coach, truck and van sectors – with Bradshaw showcasing its products which will help meet the industry’s pressing sustainability ambitions and targets.

Goupil G6

Bradshaw will be exhibiting its extensive range of Goupil utility vehicles to enable businesses and organisations to make their last-mile distribution and overall operational needs more sustainable and environmentally friendly.

Part of the Polaris family, Bradshaw’s Goupil range offers an adaptive and versatile solution to its customers’ needs and day-to-day processes which will be showcased on its stand.

All vehicles within Bradshaw’s Goupil range are equipped with lead-acid or lithium batteries and each can be tailored directly to the customer’s requirements.

At the show, Bradshaw will be showcasing their G2 and G4 vehicles – with the former vehicles featuring box van and cage tipper bodies. All vehicles are 100 per cent electric and produce zero-emissions, making them a sustainable, environmental and cost-effective solution to local authorities, industrial sites, resorts and last mile delivery companies.

As all-electric compact road utility vehicle, the G2 range offers an ideal solution for customers who have multiple sites which are connected by public highway. Available with pick-up, cage and van bodies, the G2 has been expertly designed to transport payloads of up to 600kg, whilst retaining small and compact size for convenience of use.

The Goupil G6 offers operators total flexibility

With an operational range of between 27 to 62 miles the G2 range has a payload of between 415 to 533kg and 78 to 596kg depending on the chosen model.

Visitors will also be able to see a Goupil G2 vehicle on LEX Autolease’s ‘Future Van Hub’ located next to Hall 1.

The G4 road vehicles on offer include pick-ups, vans and waste collectors, all designed to transport people and equipment for a variety of different applications. With an operational range of 68 miles and maximum speed of 31mph, the G4 range are equipped with an array of body types to cater to the customer’s specific requirements and feature a safe and secure cabin and both left- and right-hand drive options.

This year Bradshaw will be exhibiting the G4 with an innovative offering – a salt spreader attached on its rear provided by Peacocks Salt, showcasing the versatility of the vehicle and its many applications and uses.

With eleven different variations to choose from the G4’s greater payload offers an ideal electric vehicle for many stop-start and last mile applications and is ideally suited to low-emission zones, whilst still delivering optimal performance and low vehicle operating costs.

Ramsy Labassi commented: “Bradshaw Electric Vehicles is delighted to be back at the ITT Hub at which we can showcase our extensive Goupil range, as well as its many uses.

“Visitors will be able to see first-hand our G2, G4 and G6 vehicles which provide an ideal alternative to traditionally powered utility vehicles.

“With many organisations, businesses and local authorities placing more emphasis on environmental sustainability, the Goupil electric vehicles provide customers with the prospect of not only vastly improving their environmental footprint, but in turn enhancing operational performance and lowering their vehicle operating costs as well.

“As we understand that each customer will have different needs, Bradshaw also offers a bespoke tailor-made service to cater directly to the customer’s ever-changing requirements – as shown by our collaboration with Peacocks Salt to facilitate a salt spreader on the back of our G4 vehicle.”

Anne Cooper joins the Highland Marketing advisory board

Anne Cooper

Well-known digital nurse leader @AnnieCoops looks forward to joining a leading forum for debate on the big issues shaping health tech and the digital health industry

Highland Marketing has welcomed a digital nurse leader to its advisory board of NHS IT professionals and health tech industry experts.

Anne Cooper, known as @anniecoops to her many social media followers, has joined the expert group that acts as a forum for the discussion of issues affecting digital health, and provides advice to the agency and its clients.

Anne helped to develop the NHS’ first, nurse-led telephone helpline, NHS Direct, and went on to hold senior positions at the Department of Health Informatics Directorate, NHS England, and NHS Digital.

She retired as deputy clinical director and chief nurse at NHS Digital in 2018 and turned her attention to consulting and supporting SMEs with a social remit.

She is chair of Ethical Healthcare Consulting CIC and works with Thrive by Design a multi-disciplinary team hosted by Leeds and York Partnership NHS  Foundation Trust who specialise in inclusive co-design projects and programmes.

She is also a non-executive director of the Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust. Anne acknowledged that with so many calls on her time, she thought carefully before agreeing to join the Highland Marketing advisory board.

However, she said: “I wanted to be involved because of the quality of the people on the board. I wanted to stay connected to some of the big brains in the industry, to have the chance to debate the issues of the day with such a knowledgeable and influential group, and to have some fun in the process.

“I love talking to people and I’m convinced it’s the only way to get a real understanding of the challenges that are facing healthcare and the role that technology can play in addressing them.

“I see the advisory board as a think-tank or sounding board for doing that, and for helping Highland Marketing and its clients to positively shape the health tech industry so it can deliver the innovation the NHS so badly needs.”

Jeremy Nettle, chair of the Highland Marketing advisory board, said: “As the health and care system emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic, it is facing a new set of challenges; from addressing waiting lists to implementing new models of care.

“The advisory board meets regularly to discuss these challenges and to make a frank assessment of how digital policy and the health tech industry can contribute to addressing them.

“Anne’s experience as a nurse and long-standing advocate for technical innovation will add a valuable dimension to our discussions. We’re looking forward to some robust debates and some frank advice about how to shape the digital future.”

Susan Venables, founder and client services director at Highland Marketing, said: “We have watched and admired Anne’s work for many years, and we’re delighted to have found an opportunity to recruit her to the advisory board.

“Our longstanding ambition is to find ‘health tech to shout about’ and to tell people working in health and care about digital ideas, companies and products that can transform services for the better.

“Anne will bring a new perspective to our industry, the advice we give to our clients and the communications that we develop on their behalf. We’re very much looking forward to working with her as the NHS moves into a new phase of digital development.”

The Highland Marketing advisory board meets regularly to discuss issues around healthcare IT. It also acts a sounding board for the agency’s content, marketing and PR teams and for strategic clients.

How to comply with new sanctions prompted by the conflict in Ukraine By Barley Laing, the UK Managing Director at Melissa

Barley Laing – UK Managing Director at Melissa

The invasion of Ukraine has resulted in a large number of new sanctions by many countries against leading politicians, businesspeople, and entities in both Russia and Belarus.

The UK has been one of a number of states leading the way in imposing sanctions, and as the fighting continues the number of those being sanctioned by the British government is increasing fast.

For those in the public sector, and in fact any sector, it’s not easy to keep up with the plethora of sanctions being announced – which they are legally required to adhere to.

The best way to ensure compliance with sanctions is by having access to sanctions lists, also called watchlists. For a long time these lists have played a vital role in ensuring those in the public sector effectively undertake know your customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) checks when onboarding people to use their services. The lists have also been used to run regular cross-checks against those on their existing databases.

Failing to properly assess for sanctions could see public sector organisations facing hefty fines. Also, they are likely to experience significant brand damage resulting from the negative publicity associated with providing services to someone who’s been sanctioned.

To ensure compliance with the new sanctions triggered by the conflict in Ukraine a best practice approach to KYC and AML is essential.

  • Source sanctions data from trusted global sources

The most important first step to ensure adherence with the latest sanctions data is to obtain an up-to-date sanctions list. Ideally, it’s accessed as part of an automated tool that collects and synthesises sanctions data from a wide range of trusted sources worldwide, such as governments, regulators, and credit agencies. It should also continually scan for updates and deliver them in real-time. This way it’s possible for the organisation to provide a smooth user experience for those signing up for services – something many people expect in the digital age. Taking an automated approach is also a much more efficient and accurate way to deliver sanctions checks. Undertaking manual checks, for example using search engines, could leave your organisation exposed to sanctions breaches and the associated cost in fines and to your reputation, quite apart for the large cost of employing staff to carry out such checks.

  • PEP screening

It’s not enough to solely have access to sanctions data. Organisations must obtain politically exposed persons (PEP) data from around the world as part of a wider best practice approach to sanctions checks, KYC and AML compliance. A PEP is defined as ‘an individual who is or has been entrusted with a prominent public function’ and it is ideal to screen for them in the early stages of any onboarding activity. Along with PEPs those in the public sector require access to details of relatives and close associates (RCAs) of PEPs, as well as those sanctioned. It’s because there is a tendency for these groups to be involved in or drawn into crime. In the UK, financial organisations have a legal requirement to undertake enhanced checks of both domestic and foreign PEPs.

  • Adverse media checks are vital
    Monitoring the latest news and alerts in real-time, not only for those facing sanctions, but also PEPs and anyone else who could have potential negative regulatory, financial, or reputational consequences to their organisation, is essential. Compliance teams must remain up to date on any new information regarding the status of those using their services. This requires organisations in the public sector to augment their standard sanctions and PEP screening process with checks on adverse media and negative news. These tools scan the global news media, sourcing information on those with new sanctions against them, and where legal cases are pending.
  • Sanctions training for compliance staff
    Suitable training and guidance must be provided for compliance staff who are on the front line when it comes to acting on the sanctions data. As well as having a clear understanding of the latest sanctions measures, they must know how to handle those individuals that are impacted by the sanctions.
  • Systems and controls
    Are your organisation’s onboarding and payment screening platforms able to act on those who have been sanctioned? And once these individuals have been detected in your database, do you have the systems in place to block transactions and quickly freeze funds? Identifying those who have been sanctioned is only half the battle. The next stage requires having processes in place to immediately act on this information.
  • Undertake a broader approach with automated identity verification

An automated tool that in real-time sources those on disparate sanctions lists, including PEPs and RCAs, works well as part of a more comprehensive approach to automated KYC and AML operations. This includes using electronic identity verification (eIDV) that can cross-check user-provided details against reputable data streams to ensure they are who they say they are in real-time. Additionally, when onboarding, implementing document scanning with optical character recognition (OCR) and machine readable zone (MRZ) technology enables those in the public sector to instantly and accurately determine the authenticity of the ID documents provided online. Because these operations are seamlessly integrated into the onboarding process, the user journey remains smooth and friction-free.

The large number of new sanctions prompted by the conflict in Ukraine highlights why the public sector must have access to continually updated real-time sanctions data, including data on PEPs and RCAs, from governments and regulators worldwide. With automated functionality, these lists can be easily used in conjunction with automated eIDV and document scanning technology for an accurate, quick, and cost-effective KYC and AML process.

For more information about Melissa and how our identity and document verification services can help you prevent fraud please visit: Melissa, email: or call: 020 7718 0070.

LGfL to bolster public sector online defences in response to National Cyber Security Centre alert to act now following Russia’s attack on Ukraine

“LGfL-The National Grid for Learning is set to bolster public sector online defences in response to the National Cyber Security Centre’s alert to act now following Russia’s attack on the Ukraine,” says John Jackson, CEO, whose organisation has stepped up its cybersecurity resilience package to include monitoring, identification, sandboxing1 and the eradication of ever-evolving threats from phishing attempts, malware, hacks, viruses and ransomware. LGfL has provided services to the public sector over many years and is approved by the governing bodies for the Public Service Network (PSN) and Health and Social Care Network (HSCN) to provide secure access to systems across the public sector, including central government systems.

Newly appointed as the only UK Platinum Partner for Malwarebytes, LGfL is using its significant group buying power to supply public sector bodies cybersecurity solutions at significantly discounted prices.

LGfL is also able to offer:

• Endpoint Protection (threat prevention)
• Endpoint Detection and Response (threat prevention, monitoring, sandboxing1, isolation, and rollback2)
• Endpoint Protection for Servers (threat prevention for servers)
• Endpoint Detection and Response for Servers (threat prevention, monitoring, sandboxing, isolation, and rollback for servers).

Using its Malwarebytes OneView console, LGfL will also be able to give third party support organisations (PSOs) greater visibility and control over what is happening across multiple sites. It will also be able to provide full information on licences issued/used through its OneView Portal.

For further information on LGfL’s cybersecurity resilience packages please contact Gareth Jelley at LGfL’s Cybersecurity Centre of excellence via

1. Sandboxing works by keeping potentially malicious programs or unsafe code isolated from the rest of the organization’s environment. This way, it can be analysed safely, without compromising the operating system or host devices. If a threat is detected, it can be removed proactively.

2. Rollback – rolling back changes to restore a computer to its previous state.

Increasing children in care – the causes, the problems, and the solution

Danny Wilson, head of children’s residential at Bedspace

By Danny Wilson, head of children’s residential at Bedspace

Before the pandemic, Local Authorities in England were already under significant pressure, as budget cuts made the increasing number of children being put into care difficult to manage. Following nearly two years of Covid restrictions and lockdowns the problem has been exacerbated.  Now, new analysis predicts that the number of children in care in England could reach almost 100,000 by 20251. This increase will represent a 36 per cent rise in a decade, putting unprecedented pressure on already struggling Local Authorities. Ultimately, the people who will feel this increase most are the vulnerable children in care. The systemic problems that are causing this increase, and the issues created once they are in care, need to be addressed before we reach crisis point.

Why are more children being put into care?

In the past ten years, large cuts to the social care sector have had a huge impact on children. The Local Government Association has proposed that councils in England need £2.7bn more in funding for children in social care by 2024-251. However, as it stands decisions are being made based on what will cut costs, instead of what’s in the best interest of the children who need support. These short-term money saving decisions are leading to more children being put into care and are and causing further problems down the line.

Budget cuts have led to Local Authorities cutting spending on preventative measures, and as a result support for some vulnerable families has decreased. The closure of early intervention support measures, such as community hubs for struggling families, has meant that more vulnerable children are reaching crisis point. Obviously, this negatively impacts the lives of these children, but in the long-term removing this early intervention also costs Local Authorities more, as many children will move into care as a result.

 What does the children’s care sector look like now?

As well as the lack of preventative measures there are several other issues that need to be addressed in the children’s care sector.

In my opinion the biggest is lack of forward planning or matching when putting children into care. Short-sighted decisions by Local Authorities, including children being placed in any available home across the country, regardless of where they are from, has led to poorly matched placements which can result in difficult or dangerous incidents and disruption. In worst cases, children who have been taken out of the family home in emergency situations are being placed alongside other children who have similarly been taken out of a crisis. Children coming out of these situations are likely to experience high levels of emotional trauma, and so being placed together in an unfamiliar environment increases the risk of them becoming violent or running away. These incidents not only have a detrimental impact on the child’s wellbeing and future development, but also have knock-on effects for the other children in the home.

Finally, in addition to poor planning, the low budgets Local Authorities are dealing with mean that they are unable to provide the same level of service once a child is put into care. Despite councils increasing budget in the past two years, and eight in 10 councils in England overspending in 2019/2020, the impact of long-term budget cuts mean there’s still not enough funding to provide appropriate care and deal with the ever-increasing demand.2

The pressure relating to cost of placements in children’s homes means that at age 16, children are often rushed into moving on to cheaper alternative accommodation before they are ready. This focus on costs, rather than the child’s wellbeing and the support they need, can undo the progress that a child has made up until that stage. It is well known that the ‘cliff edge’ from children’s homes to adulthood can result in very poor outcomes. The only way to make this process easier to provide intensive support around transitions, or integrated services that enable continuity in order to ensure  children to develop successfully.

The rapidly increasing number of children being put into care needs urgent attention. Across a backdrop of austerity and the ongoing impact of the pandemic, young people across the UK are already struggling with increased mental health issues, difficulty building relationships, and are finding it more challenging to find job opportunities. The impact of these challenges for children in care, who do not have a consistent environment or family support proves an even heavier burden.

 What can we do to solve the problem?

Firstly, to prevent the rapid increase in the number of children in care, there needs to be a reconsideration of the way decisions are made within Local Authorities. Even with limited budget, decision makers need to invest now in support services within the community to prevent vulnerable children reaching the point where they end up in care. Although investing in support services may seem like a large outgoing, in the long term it not only benefits vulnerable children, but it is also more cost effective for Local Authorities. Housing one child in a children’s home costs approximately £4000-£4500 a week,  so investing in preventative measures now is well worth it down the line.

Secondly, is it essential that there are carefully thought-out planning processes in place to match children to the best homes for them and the community, if they are put into care. This planning and risk assessment is especially important before taking children out of crisis situations, as these children are most at risk.

We need to see wider variety of organisations providing residential care homes. Currently, a third of residential care homes are provided by the 10 biggest organisations in the country3, due to the current approach around planning and buying property that favours large corporations. There needs to be a change in this process within the sector to allow smaller organisations to enter the market.  Different providers will have different approaches to care. Having a more varied range of providers and more competition in the sector, will not only increased standard of care, but will lead to a diversity of ideas that will support the long-term improvement of the sector.

Finally, and most importantly, it is essential that children’s homes provide a family-like and supportive environment for the children that live there. Children in care must have care pathways that provide a safe and ongoing transition into other areas of support. Providers should work with Local Authorities to constantly review placements and provide a flexible provision of much needed support for these vulnerable children.

For the benefit of both the Local Authorities and the vulnerable children in our communities, we need to act now to solve what is becoming an ever more pressing issue.

Why Complex Public Sector IT Needs Full-Stack Observability

By Sascha Giese, Head Geek at SolarWinds

Organisations across the public sector are embracing digital transformation, and as a result, IT infrastructure is becoming more complex. On top of significant levels of legacy hardware and software to manage, the addition of various cloud-based services means IT professionals are looking after a diverse set of technologies—from the most current and advanced systems to those in use for many years.

As a result, IT teams must split their time and resources across disparate technologies. To stay in control, many now rely on a variety of management and monitoring tools. Though these tools help them maintain performance and reliability, the quest for simplification means service silos can develop based on the various monitoring capabilities available.

Indeed, the widespread piecemeal monitoring strategies seen across organisations can create major operational blind spots, and on a practical level, they can cause delays in resolving problems and failures. Looking ahead, the danger is IT pros will eventually find it’s no longer possible to fully focus on infrastructure and service modernisation because the complexity inherent in monitoring their existing systems gets in the way.

So how can public sector technology teams balance their digital transformation priorities against the need to deliver effective monitoring across their IT estate? The answer lies in the implementation of full-stack observability, which is designed to deliver an end-to-end monitoring service without the familiar silos and disruptive complexity.

From Monitoring to Observability

Traditional infrastructure and application monitoring tools capture and process telemetry data to allow IT organisations to understand the current state of each relevant component. This then enables teams to understand where systems are operating normally, whether they’re performing outside their normal parameters (or are completely offline), and how the status of each is changing at any given time.

This traditional approach to monitoring tends to focus on a specific network, cloud, or infrastructure component. Ultimately, the role of these tools is to help technology professionals identify and resolve minor and serious problems as soon as possible.

Specifically, these tools employ metrics-oriented dashboards to help IT pros evaluate telemetry data against manually or statistically defined thresholds. Though this provides invaluable insight across public sector organisations, the tools can’t provide cross-domain correlation, service delivery insight, information about operational dependencies, or any useful sense of predictability.

This creates a problem because modern systems are increasingly built around complex multi-cloud environments and increasing levels of telemetry data, meaning there’s an accompanying shortfall in the monitoring insight available.

In contrast, observability goes beyond traditional monitoring by measuring the internal states of systems in their entirety. By offering a more holistic view—from end-user experience to server-side metrics and logs—IT teams can immediately overcome the limitations of their legacy monitoring tools.

Whereas monitoring aggregates and displays data to help assess whether systems are operating as expected, observability draws on these insights and metrics and compares this information with expected outcomes and objectives. This allows IT pros to understand the state of their infrastructure and applications and allows them to eliminate silos.

Observable Improvements

Observability also offers IT organisations scope to improve performance, availability, and digital experience on a continual basis—all while embracing the complexity of today’s increasingly distributed hybrid and cloud tech strategies.

Moreover, full-stack observability isn’t just about IT monitoring, performance, and problem-solving. By delivering actionable insights and intelligence—combined with capabilities such as machine learning and artificial intelligence for IT—it can be applied to historical metrics, logs, and trace data at a huge scale and in real time.

This also helps professionals across ITOps, DevOps, and security teams deliver consistent and well-performing services focused on meeting the needs of users with continuous improvements in productivity and experience.

The bottom-line impact is users, employees, and customers alike get better-performing, more reliable systems to meet their varied needs. This is particularly important for public sector organisations focused on the delivery of digital transformation projects, where minimising complexity is often among the key strategic priorities when modernising systems.

As digital transformation continues apace across focused public sector projects and entire departments alike, observability is increasingly key to enabling the kind of proactivity these systems require to maximise uptime and performance. In this digital-first era, expectations are high, and public confidence in online services will—to a significant degree—depend on how well they perform.

Trusts to HIMSS5 by December 2023: will they make it this time?

Sajid Javid – Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

Health and social care secretary Sajid Javid has announced a new target to complete the digitisation of the acute sector. The Highland Marketing advisory board discussed the approach being developed by NHS England’s transformation directorate, and the challenges to making it work. 

In the first week of February, the Health Service Journal reported that it had seen a PowerPoint presentation of the digital plans being drawn-up by NHS England’s transformation directorate, which is absorbing NHSX and NHS Digital.

The magazine revealed that the directorate wants to see the “universal adoption of electronic patient records” as part of its “foundational vision” and that it wants clinical decision support to become “the norm” for all clinicians.

Just a few weeks later, health and social care secretary Sajid Javid told the HSJ digital transformation summit that he is setting new targets for the adoption of EPRs in England. He said he wants 90% of trusts to be at Level 5 on the HIMSS EMRAM maturity model by December 2023, with the other 10% well on the way to deploying an EPR.

A shift in NHS digital policy

This is a significant shift in focus. The Highland Marketing advisory board held a debate on the future of EPRs last year, because it felt as though NHSX wasn’t particularly interested in completing the digitisation of hospitals.

 Yet there have been signs that something like this announcement has been coming. In retrospect, the most significant move was made last March, when NHS England announced that it was making Tim Ferris its director of transformation.

Ferris used to lead the Massachusetts General Physicians Organisation, which in 2016 agreed a $1.2 billion deal for Epic. In October, reported that Ferris had been suggesting an even bigger deal: a contract with Epic for a single, national EPR for the entire NHS.

While that was always unlikely, NHSX went on to announce a reboot for the digital aspirant programme that was interesting in two ways. First, Digital Aspirant Plus or DA+ focused on EPRs, and not on the departmental, e-obs, and AI systems that have received digital aspirant funding in recent years.

Second, DA+ comes with central support to procure an EPR and ‘buddying’ support to deploy one. At one level, this looked like a bid to learn the lessons of the global digital exemplar programme, which the National Audit Office has judged a success.

On another, it looked like a bid to give the centre more control over the systems being chosen. Shortly after HSJ reported on Javid’s target, it reported that NHS England has been sending out forms asking integrated care systems about their plans to ‘converge’ local EPRs.

So, twenty years after the National Programme for IT was launched, it looks as though the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England are going to have another go at getting EPRs into every trust, and that they want to do some market shaping in the process.

How much ‘convergence’?

When the Highland Marketing advisory board met towards the end of February, members debated whether the push would work, and the pros and cons of ‘convergence’.

Chair Jeremy Nettle suggested that it looked as though the centre would still like to see Epic everywhere. “The way things are forming up, with the integration of NHSE, X, and D, and the latest announcements, it looks like they’d like a Henry Ford offer: you can have any colour of EPR you like, as long as it’s black!”

However, the reality on the ground is that the landscape is too messy for this to happen. Nicola Haywood-Alexander, system chief information officer at NHS Lincolnshire, pointed out that EPRs are only used by acute trusts; mental health and community providers have their own systems, as do GPs, and they’re not going to rip them up and take them out.

“We’re all discussing what the definition of ‘convergence’ is going to be, and the utopian answer might be ‘one system’ across an ICS, but the pragmatic answer is going to be ‘data’ and systems that allow data to be exchanged with each other,” she said.

Even in the acute sector, trusts that have achieved a high level of digitisation using a mix of single supplier EPRs and other systems, or ‘best of breed’ approaches, are also unlikely to undo the work they have done. But for the large minority of trusts that are still mostly paper-based, adopting the EPR or approach of another member of an acute group, a neighbour, or the majority of trusts in its ICS area, should make sense.

Andy Kinnear, who retired from the NHS after 30-years and now works for Ethical Consulting, said: “In some areas, trusts have been deliberately difficult with their EPR choices. We can all think of cities in which there are three or four trusts and they’ve refused to use a single instance of an EPR, because they think it will make it harder to merge them.

“Any attempt to tackle that kind of behaviour is going to be a good thing, so we can get on with sharing data to do what we’re meant to be doing, which is creating better services for patients.”

The challenges: deployment

If Whitehall and NHS England do use DA+ and the new EPR target to encourage acute trusts to ‘converge’ on systems at an acute group or ICS level, the NHS will end up with a smaller number of single-system suppliers.

As Matthew Swindells pointed out in a recent Highland Marketing interview, that was one of the intentions of the GDE programme, so recent developments can be seen as taking the health service back to where it was before NHSX arrived on the scene. However, Kinnear pointed out that it won’t be enough to guarantee that NHS trusts will be at HIMSS 5 on target.

“We shouldn’t underestimate how hard it is to deploy,” he said. “Fewer products will make your provider landscape a lot more manageable, but it doesn’t make your trust landscape more manageable. Every trust will have its own way of doing booking, or managing transfers from A&E or whatever, and you have to get into all of that.”

Time and leadership

The advisory board identified two additional challenges to getting the 20% of trusts that are still mostly paper-based over the line: timescales and leadership. As Kinnear pointed out: “No matter how many times we’ve tried to do this in England, we’ve failed, and one reason is that we keep announcing new approaches and failing to see them through.

“As soon as it gets tough, we change the national leadership and start again. I think that if we’d stuck with the NPfIT  – ok, perhaps not NPfIT, but certainly the GDE programme – we’d be there by now.

“I remember talking to the leaders of the GDE programme when it launched [in 2016], and they said: ‘The Treasury won’t give us the money to put EPRs into the entire NHS, because it doesn’t think we’ll manage to deploy. So, we’re going to do a few trusts, to prove that we can do it, and then we’ll go back to the Treasury, and ask for the millions and millions required.

“And they were going along, but then Matt Hancock arrived [as health and social care secretary] and it all changed [as Hancock set up NHSX]. Every IT programme seems to last about three years, but it takes a year to get the programme together, and a year to do the procurement, and at least two years to deploy: so we never see things given enough time to get the job done.”

Targets, money, action?

On the leadership front, the board noted that NHS IT programmes tend to coincide with NHS reorganisations; and NHS reorganisations inevitably end up with good, experienced people leaving the service.

Haywood-Alexander said there are signs that this is happening now, as acute trusts form acute groups or integrated service providers and clinical commissioning groups make way for ICSs, but neither put chief information officers on their boards.

“We all spend a lot of time dealing with the system, and if you’re doing it from a position in which you feel you’re not being valued, it’s very tough,” she said. Again, Kinnear agreed: “I used to work for a shared care record, and I got put into a commissioning support unit [when primary care trusts were abolished in order to set up CCGs].

“But lots of people just gave up and left the NHS at that point, and that contributed to CCGs having a very difficult birth. They just didn’t have the leaders and the experts that they needed to be successful. And now we’re seeing the same thing happening again.”

Entrepreneur Ravi Kumar said this was a real worry. “At the start of the Covid pandemic, there was real progress on IT, and we all hoped that it would be maintained,” he said. “Instead, there seems to be a gap at the top.

“Sajid Javid and Tim Ferris are saying some interesting things, but I wonder if they always agree with each other. Even if they do it will take time for the new relationships between the Department [of Health and Social Care] and NHS England the new transformation directorate to bed in.

“It’s important to have a consistent message, but it looks like we might not get one for twelve months. While that happens, more people will leave the frontline. That’s bad, because all the good things we saw being done during Covid was done by strong people with the drive to make it happen.”

Déjà vu all over again

Nettle drew some positive conclusions from the discussion. Yes, he said, “there is an element of déjà vu about these proposals” but the hope has to be that the NHS’ central bodies, local IT leaders and industry have learned from what has gone before.

If nothing else, he pointed out, in the 20 years since NPfIT was launched, there has been widespread buy-in to the idea that technology matters. “Both healthcare providers and industry have learned so much over two decades, and there is a genuine commitment to the idea that delivering healthcare is dependent on sharing good quality and timely data with those who need it to make operational and clinical decisions.”

However, Kumar summed up some of the board’s concerns about whether current politics and organisational changes could still derail the latest attempt to digitise the NHS. “The danger is we could end up in a situation where there is a target, and money, but there isn’t the strong leadership to make it happen,” he said.

Sportsafe’s longstanding working relationship with ESPO continues

Wayne Fowler – Sportsafe Service, Repair and Maintenance Engineer ESPO accreditation

Sportsafe have been working closely with ESPO for over 20 years, and the company’s uninterrupted delivery of gymnasium and fitness equipment maintenance services is set to continue as they retain their position on ESPO framework 107.

Framework 107, Inspection and Maintenance of Indoor

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SolarWinds Launches Comprehensive Observability, Empowering Customers to Accelerate Digital Transformation

Integrated solution enables IT agility, productivity, and actionable intelligence for organisations of all sizes and industries, wherever they are on their modernisation and cloud migration journeys

SolarWinds (NYSE:SWI), a leading provider of simple, powerful, and secure IT management software, announces the launch of SolarWinds® Hybrid Cloud Observability, built on the SolarWinds Platform. The SolarWinds Platform

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Trueman Change are delighted to announce the launch of their new change methodology, derived from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic – The Trueman Change Way. This is a people-first approach, created from the lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic and implemented into change accelerator programmes to ensure transformation can continue to happen faster and


Blackpool Teaching Hospitals goes ‘live’ with CCube Solutions’ EDRMS to deliver digital records and enhance patient care

50,000 paper files already scanned and made available electronically to clinicians

CCube Solutions announces today that Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has implemented its electronic document and records management system (EDRMS) to store legacy and day-forward paper medical records as part of a substantial investment to deliver digitally-enabled care.

The EDRMS project

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Letter from the Prime Minister to Lord Wolfson

A letter from the Prime Minister to Lord Wolfson, that has just been released.


Blowing The Full Time Whistle on Cartel Behaviour

Victoria Preece

By Victoria Preece, Compliance Director – allpay Limited

“Competition law compliance is not always given the attention that it deserves. I would like to see anti-competitive behaviour taken as seriously by UK businesses and boards as the risks around bribery, fraud, health and safety and cybercrime.” Lord David Currie, Chairman, Competition and

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Local authorities that own or operate electricity generation like solar, wind, gas and combined heat and power (CHP) have got just four weeks left to apply for funding to help them update their generation equipment. The deadline for applications is Tuesday 10 May 2022.

The funding is part of the Accelerated Loss of Mains Change



A new scheme that local authorities can invest their Local Authority Delivery Scheme (LADs) and Home Upgrade Grant Scheme (HUGs) budgets in has received backing from British Gas and So Energy.

Neil Marshall – director of external affairs – Effective Energy Group

Developed by Nottinghamshire-based, Effective Energy Group, Help4Homes goes further than some


Seven areas of UK under serious water stress

Can government and public sector organisations do more to protect national water supplies?

Smarti Environmental, the UK’s leading waterless urinal provider, is urging government and public sector organisations to play their part in the battle against needless water wastage following World Water Day and the Environment Secretary Minister Rebecca Pow’s call for the greater adoption

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Manx Care delivering smart and efficient patient care

Manx Care, Isle of Man were looking for solutions to replace an outdated legacy paging system that resulted in failed and delayed messaging impacting emergency response, with a modern progressive method of communication.

To address this challenge, Manx Care embarked on a project with Alcidion to deploy Smartpage Clinical, with a view to introduce Smartpage

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