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Maternity tech launched to help NHS measure and enhance safety 

Health tech provider C2-Ai has formally launched a new ‘observatory’ system to help hospitals gain a better understanding of risks, outcomes and safety within maternity and neonatal services.

Announced at the annual NHS ConfedExpo, the new system will equip hospitals and frontline teams with a detailed picture of individual health trajectories for women, and the performance of maternity units.

Known as the ‘Maternity & Neonatal Observatory’, the system is based on a highly regarded AI-backed risk methodology already used in the NHS, and in top hospitals around the world, to measure safety and performance, highlight hidden risks in healthcare, and safely manage waiting lists.

By shining new light on outcomes for mothers and babies, it will help healthcare providers to proactively identify and address areas of concern early within maternity services, before they escalate or become systemic problems.

Frontline clinical teams will also be better informed about specific risks and care requirements for individual women, including any specialised support needed to ensure favourable outcomes.

Dr Mark Ratnarajah, a practising NHS paediatrician and UK managing director for C2-Ai, said: “Maternity services have come under close scrutiny in the public eye. By working closely with partners in the NHS, we will provide capabilities that can alert healthcare providers to challenges at the earliest of stages. And they will have new analysis to help them to demonstrate quality to regulators, maternity incentive schemes, and the outside world.

“Insights needed to achieve this can often be buried within data held in disparate places. We can now decode that complex clinical data, and unearth intelligence needed to support a learning environment. In addition to current evaluations of compliance with processes, services will have a new means to help them understand, interrogate, and enhance outcomes on an almost continuous basis.”

Early adopters within the NHS are expected soon, with maternity teams in trusts across several regions having already provided positive feedback on the observatory’s capabilities.

The system works by calculating and comparing in-detail observed outcomes for women and babies, in relation to expected outcomes for those individuals. Tailored for the acuity level of each maternity and neonatal service, the observatory uses AI and machine learning algorithms, widely proven in the NHS and internationally, to assess a total of 47 clinical factors. It takes into account case-mix adjusted maternal and neonatal clinical outcomes, impacts from social determinants of health such as ethnicity and deprivation, and comorbidities.

Maternity services are then able to visualise in granular detail where they may need to focus attention. The same system then allows providers to track if policy changes and quality improvement measures put in place have led to improvements.

Healthcare providers will be better equipped to identify patterns – for example the prevalence of sudden or unexpected increases in complications. They will be able to carry out deeper root cause investigations into adverse events. And they will be able to use insights to support accurate reporting on performance to regulators, and NHS Resolution’s Maternity Incentive Scheme.

Significant gains are also expected in tackling maternal healthcare inequalities. Research released in 2022 revealed maternal mortality rates to be four times higher for women from black ethnic backgrounds, compared to white women, and nearly twice as high for Asian women. Women residing in the most deprived areas also experienced higher maternal mortality rates. The findings were published in a report from Birthrights (1), which also examined inequalities in risks facing babies, including stillbirth, injuries, and brain damage.

Combined analysis of community care, and maternity and neonatal outcomes, made possible through the Maternity & Neonatal Observatory, is expected to support healthcare providers’ ability to measure progress in tackling such inequalities, including in NHS England’s Core20PLUS5 programme on narrowing healthcare inequalities.

Stephen Mackenney, CEO for C2-Ai, and a former head of quality, safety and clinical governance in the Department of Health, said: “New insights available through the Maternity & Neonatal Observatory, can help services to react to immediate challenges, and to proactively forward plan. This has the potential to support strategies at national, regional and local level, to help healthcare providers to focus training, to personalise care for individual women, to plan resources across healthcare systems, and to develop policy, based on evidence of what delivers the best outcomes for people receiving care.

“Healthcare providers are working tirelessly to improve quality and safety. I look forward to seeing our technology support them in their mission to enhance care in the maternal services so many people rely on.”

Solving the public sector productivity puzzle: why connectivity holds the key

By Anne-Marie Vine-Lott, Director of Health, Vodafone UK

Anne-Marie Vine-Lott

Restoring public sector productivity is a national priority.

Recent ONS figures reveal productivity levels in the public sector considerably worsened in late 2023 – especially across healthcare and education – and to this day remain 6.8% lower than pre-pandemic levels.

The Office for Budget Responsibility believes returning to pre-pandemic productivity levels could save £20 billion a year – improving public service quality and reducing the burden on taxpayers. But how can we go about achieving this goal?

I strongly believe that safe, reliable, world-class connectivity is key for transforming public sector productivity and ultimately citizens’ experience. Each part of the public sector has its own challenges, but our breadth of experience and the flexibility of our technologies mean that we can innovate at a pace that works for all stakeholders, whether we’re talking about NHS patients and staff; students; citizens working with councils; or public services of any kind.

They all stand to benefit from top-tier connectivity and the roll-out of 5G.

Harnessing technology in healthcare

In healthcare, connectivity has a direct impact on patients’ abilities to access services, their experience navigating their care; and their ability to self-manage their health if they have a long-term condition.

Connectivity, whether mobile (4G/5G) or fixed, public or private, is fundamental for accelerating the adoption of new and existing technologies that facilitate these improvements. It’s why having the right underlying connectivity in place in every hospital and GP practice is key for them to run as efficiently and productively as possible – and we have already started to see what a connected healthcare ecosystem could look like.

In A&E departments across the country, Vodafone has partnered with eConsult Health to roll out eTriage  – a self-registration system which is helping reduce waiting times and improve patient safety. Through the self-registration process, eTriage collects patients’ medical histories to quickly identify those that need medical attention most urgently, as well as reducing the general waiting time for emergency treatment. Overall, it makes waiting rooms safer, helps reduce workforce challenges, and means patients get seen more quickly.  

It’s clear that hospitals need a network that can keep up with the growing demand from doctors and patients for faster, more accurate information. The latest technology can also help free up much-needed resource for time-poor and under-pressure healthcare workers.

Helping educators adapt to hybrid teaching

We all witnessed how vital it was for students and teachers to stay connected during the pandemic. Back then, it was hard to grasp the long-term impact on schools, universities, and students.  

Now, recent figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) show that the lingering effects of lockdowns on education threaten to wipe £700bn off the global economy, potentially stunting growth for decades.

It’s essential, therefore, to ensure educators can deliver to their full potential in the post-pandemic hybrid teaching environment – so those students learning remotely can benefit just as much as those attending in-person.

Through Connected Education, Vodafone is helping educators with this new hybrid learning norm: helping them take smart, simple steps forward to deliver online education experiences seamlessly.

Using Vodafone’s ultra-low latency 5G network, we ensure that collaboration is still a key element of learning – even when not in the same room. With our partner Sensing Feeling, we provide many institutions with Emotive Sensing, to monitor the mood of the “room” during seminars. And with our scalable cloud Contact Centre as a Service system, we help universities across the UK remain productive in student recruitment, clearing, and student wellbeing.

Looking after local government

Local governments, who are working tirelessly to ensure services run smoothly against a backdrop of limited funding and increasing demand for services, need the best connectivity.

When COVID struck, Barrow Borough Council had to quickly adjust their ways of working. They worked with Vodafone and Centrality to safely integrate Microsoft’s suite of solutions, beginning with a cloud-readiness assessment to tailor the support to the council’s specific needs. This ensured a seamless transition to Microsoft 365, which the council still uses today for secure, collaborative, efficient operations.

In Kingston, we helped with a different, but equally significant issue: keeping the town clean from fly-tipping. Currently, financial pressures faced by councils means that local household waste and recycling centres (HWRCs) have to close – which inevitably leads to increased fly-tipping. With Vodafone’s Smart Wireless Camera, which supplies authorities with live surveillance of illegal dumpings, Kingston Council can now allocate their already limited resources, more effectively – and have seen a reduction in fly-tipping by 80% on average.

Transforming our public sector is within our reach. By making carefully considered investments in establishing smart, digital foundations we can support the adoption of new and existing technologies as well as collaborating with businesses who can offer the connectivity tools and expertise needed, we can restore our public services and unlock the productivity puzzle together.  

The need to modernise secure content communication approaches

By Tim Freestone, chief strategy and marketing officer, Kiteworks

The sheer number of cyber-attacks in recent years puts the inadequacy of current systems into sharp focus. Alas, many public sector organisations are still using decades old legacy, homegrown technologies to manage the storing, transfer, and sharing of data. Although this approach has historically been adequate, it can no longer keep up with the growing cyber threat landscape. This is why the UK Government has initiated a new cyber security strategy that focuses first on establishing resilience within the public sector.

Tim Freestone

Government organisations must take responsibility for securing their daily operations, communications, and data activity. In government, data is consistently being moved, shared, and collected, both internally between departments and externally with third parties. Keeping this data safe throughout its communication lifecycle is essential to the reliable functioning of national services and the protection of people’s privacy. Whether it is patients’ personal health information or mission-critical data, any breach can cause serious disruption.

The need for cyber resilience

As of 2023, the UK was the third most targeted country in the world for cyber-attacks. Because of this, cyber resilience is a necessary cornerstone of the UK’s strategy for national resilience. The Government Cyber Security Strategy for 2022-2030 recognises that the cyber security landscape is evolving, and that its approach to resilience must evolve with it. The government has been tasked to lead by example for the nation’s private sector. It is, therefore, imperative that central government departments set the standard for robust, trustworthy, and compliant data and communication security.

Cyber threats across the public sector are on the rise. Between 2020 and 2021, 40% of cyber incidents managed by the National Cyber Security Centre targeted the public sector. Ransomware attacks on the NHS saw patient data fall into the hands of malicious actors, and several local councils were locked out of their systems due to ransomware attacks. These incidents not only result in significant costs, but the increased vulnerability of critical national infrastructure, government organisations, and other public sector services also puts sensitive and mission-critical data at risk.

Unfortunately, as technology develops, malicious actors are leveraging new and more sophisticated techniques to circumvent data security. The problem is that many government departments continue to rely on homegrown solutions and legacy systems that are no longer fit for purpose. The IT solutions being used for secure content communication, such as email systems, data transfer and file sharing, have reached the end of their lifecycle. Not only can they not develop as this new strategy needs them to do, but they are introducing an increasing number of risks and exploitable vulnerabilities.

Unique challenges

As the backbone to countless public services, central government organisations have some unique challenges to consider when it comes to secure data communication and the solutions they need to achieve it.

Firstly, is the risk brought on by interagency communication. Central government organisations have a long supply Sensitive PII data chain, both internally and externally. This introduces many more potential areas of risk, such as emails falling into the wrong hands or files being accessed by malicious parties when being shared. In addition, these communications are often happening across different channels, creating silos which further add to the risk of a breach.

Secondly, is the need for service assurance. Mission-critical services, such as emergency weather responses or national security, rely on high-volumes of data to function properly. It is essential that this data is not disrupted when being collected, transferred, or processed.

Then there is the sensitivity of the data itself. People-facing services, such as healthcare, handle vast amounts of sensitive data. This must be stored in compliance with regulations like GDPR. Unfortunately, it remains a prime target for attack and so must be strongly protected to deter attacks and prevent accidental leaks

More needs to be done

Plenty of progress has been made to improve the UK’s position to meet these challenges. However, there is a lot more to do. Government organisations need to look at two pillars. Firstly, to build a united defence and secondly, to build resilience and be empowered to manage their own cyber risks. This will lead to them reducing vulnerabilities and risks while improving visibility over activity, strengthening the security surrounding content communication, and building processes that align with regulatory compliance requirements. In doing so, organisations must consider solutions that can scale as threats evolve and that can be integrated across organisations – or that are highly interoperable and compatible.

A turning point

Government organisations have reached a turning point. They must take the leap to re-evaluate and reinvent their secure data communication solutions before the capability gap between them and potential adversaries grows too stark.

Thankfully, help is at hand. There are secure file and email data communications platforms on the market that are built to enable central government organisations to meet modern data security requirements. Such a Private Content Network empowers agencies to share sensitive content internally and with third parties by email, file sharing, file transfer, and other channels at the highest levels of security, governance, and compliance.

Chubb Joins the Lancashire Skills Pledge: Committing to Community Engagement and Employment Excellence in Blackburn

Chubb Fire & Security is proud to announce its recent commitment to the Lancashire Skills Pledge, solidifying its role as a leading employer in the Blackburn community, where its UK headquarters is located. By joining this vital initiative, Chubb underscores its dedication to nurturing local talent and enhancing employment opportunities across the region.

The Lancashire Skills Pledge, which recognises organisations actively contributing to skill development and employment opportunities, now counts Chubb among its esteemed network of over 400 businesses. As part of this pledge, Chubb is committed at empowering individuals and fostering a skilled workforce that can meet the challenges of tomorrow.

As a new member, Chubb has been awarded a Skills Pledge certificate and a member badge – symbols of its dedication to community development. These emblems represent Chubb’s promise to inspire, upskill, and create pathways for career advancement within the local community.

Kirsty Brooks, Director of Employee Experience and Development at Chubb commented on the partnership, saying, “By signing the Lancashire Skills Pledge, we reaffirm our commitment to the professional growth of our employees and to the broader Blackburn community. We are excited to play a central role in shaping a future where everyone can access the opportunities they need to succeed.”

Chubb’s engagement with the Lancashire Skills Pledge is an opportunity to showcase its ongoing learning initiatives and successes in community involvement.  This partnership is especially significant as Chubb continues to strengthen its presence in Blackburn. This strategic move enhances Chubb’s workforce capabilities and enriches the company’s community ties. The Skills Pledge aligns perfectly with Chubb’s goals to provide meaningful employment opportunities and be an active participant in Lancashire’s economic development.

Chubb is looking forward to making a lasting impact and fostering an environment where every individual has the opportunity to thrive. To find out more about Chubb’s opportunities in the region and throughout the UK, please visit www.chubb.co.uk/jobs.

Why standards are key to building trust in AI

There is considerable excitement about the potential of AI to deliver more accessible, efficient, and high-quality healthcare; alongside concern about data privacy, bias, and how these new tools will be used in clinical practice.

The key to realising the benefits and addressing the concerns is the adoption of standards for the development and implementation of AI by manufacturers and their customers. And the good news is that standards are both available and developing rapidly, says Dean Mawson, clinical director and founder of DPM Digital Health Consultancy.

There’s considerable interest in the potential uses of AI in healthcare at the moment; but there is also concern about the possible risks that it could pose.

Challenges include questions about data privacy and algorithmic bias, how we can make sure that AI tools are subject to robust validation and testing processes, and how to make sure they are used safely in a clinical setting.

Dean Mawson

To address these issues, manufacturers will need to be transparent about their data models and the way their algorithms are trained and validated. There will also need to be more education and training for the people who procure and use these tools.

Building trust

However, that will only take us so far. Manufacturers are, understandably, keen to protect their intellectual property – and some AI operates as a ‘black box’ around which we can only see inputs and outputs.

At the same time, busy healthcare organisations, clinicians and patients need to understand the fundamentals, but are never going to be experts in such a complex area. So, how do we secure the adoption of AI in this environment, and make sure its risks are properly managed?

The key is going to be ‘trust’ which the Oxford English Dictionary defines as: ‘a firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something’. And one way in which other sectors, from airlines to engineering and med tech, build trust is through regulation.

Few people in the world really understand how a plane is built or a nuclear power plant operates. Instead, we trust they are safe because they are highly regulated, and operate to well understood, international standards.

Standards for AI in healthcare

Since the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw a rapid acceleration in the take-up of health tech of all kinds, there has been growing interest in standards for AI in healthcare.

In the UK, the starting point is DCB0160 and DCB0129, which date back 15  years to a programme to encourage health tech vendors and their customers to take a ‘safety approach’ to the design, development, deployment and use of digital health systems.

DCB0160 requires trusts to risk assess any customisations and reconfigurations, to determine whether they are good to go live and DCB0129 requires vendors to carry out a risk assessment on their product.

Both should be very familiar, as compliance with these standards is mandatory under the Health and Social Care Act 2012. Then, we have BS ISO/IEC 30440 and BS ISO/IEC 42001.

These are international standards developed by experts from 50 countries, led by the British Standards Institution, and they provide a validation framework and a management system for AI in healthcare.

BS ISO/IEC 30440 is designed to help manufacturers to risk assess medical technology using machine learning and to mitigate any hazards found. While BS ISO/IEC 42001 is designed to help organisations to create a management system to implement and govern this technology effectively.

User friendly – up to a point!  

The BSI and its experts have worked hard to make these standards user-friendly. For international standards, they are written in lay-person’s terms and come with examples for some of the clauses, indicating how to apply them.

Even so, it’s been recognised that adopting these standards is not straightforward, and the University of York has been commissioned to develop a safety assurance framework to help manufacturers and deploying organisations.

This is underpinned by an established process known as the assurance of machine learning for use in autonomous systems, or AMLAS. Effectively, the University is working out how to apply this to healthcare.

Challenges to using standards in practice

So, we have some standards for the development and deployment of health IT systems generally and AI tools specifically, and the start of a structure for applying them, but there’s no doubt that we are at the start of a journey.

As we learn more about AI in healthcare, we’re going to need to revise the standards and review our governance arrangements; and that’s a positive; it’s how we move forward.

Despite this, there are obstacles on the road. Because these standards support a safety approach, they apply to both manufacturers and healthcare organisations (and also clinicians and patients, who have their own part to play in using and interpreting these tools safely).

In theory, that means the cost of compliance should be borne by both manufacturers and users; but in practice there is considerable push-back from healthcare organisations against being asked to pay for something that is not mandatory.

Mandation may be coming. The UK government has a roadmap for the development of an effective AI assurance ecosystem, and the healthcare AI standards are part of it.

The EU has also adopted landmark legislation to create a legal framework for the development and adoption of AI, that covers data quality, transparency, human oversight, and accountability; and manufacturers who operate beyond the UK are not going to be able to ignore it.

Time for a proactive approach  

We also need to make sure that healthcare organisations are proactive about using these standards and set-up to work with them.  

That means making sure they have well trained, competent, clinical safety officers in place, but also making sure they are working within safety management systems that include everyone, from board to ward, in the design, development and deployment process.

I’m planning to write more about this later in the year. Meantime, the key point is that this is all about trust. If we want to build a healthcare AI industry in the UK, we need trust. If we want organisations (and the clinicians working in them, and the patients relying on them) to benefit from that industry, we need trust.

Raising awareness of the standards that are available for the development and adoption of digital health systems and AI tools is vital because they give us a structure and process on which to build that trust.

Everybody can see what has been done to make sure the development and deployment of these new technologies is ethical and clinically safe, and that will build confidence in the ability of AI to deliver a more accessible, efficient, and high-quality NHS.

Dean Mawson: Is a registered nurse working in London with an interest in clinical safety going back almost two decades. He is clinical director/founder at DPM Digital Health Consultancy, a company that providers regulatory compliance services to digital health manufacturers and health organisations.

Somerset NHS Foundation Trust works with Oleeo to streamline recruitment

NHS trust is adopting new recruitment software to streamline processes, improve experience for managers and candidates, and address equality, diversity and inclusion

Somerset NHS Foundation Trust is working with Oleeo to help to support its recruitment processes and deliver a better experience for recruitment managers and candidates.

The trust, which employs 14,000 people across two acute hospitals, 13 community hospitals and a range of community, primary care and mental health services, is planning to go-live with the new recruitment, applicant management, and reporting software in May.

This will help managers to use the system to recruit around 1,800 people every six months by creating job adverts that work for a diverse pool of potential applicants, including more personalised information for candidates, and creating better data on what is working.

Iain Reed, who works for the recruitment team at Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, explains: “Like other NHS trusts across the country, we face an ongoing challenge in recruiting the nurses and other colleagues to meet the demand for our services.

“We want to change the way we approach recruitment and we’re pleased to be working with Oleeo to develop some really innovative ideas to achieve this.

“Using Oleeo’s ATS software means we will be able to send candidates a video to show them all the things that are great about working here. We also want to improve equality, diversity and inclusivity across the trust.

“The new system will give us better data on which groups we are recruiting from, as well as automated features, to make sure that our managers are supported in writing adverts that don’t inadvertently exclude anyone from the hundreds of career paths we have to offer.”

Oleeo was founded in 1995, and it now delivers technology and talent acquisition support to more than 400 employers globally.

In the UK public sector, its software is used across central and local government and by 70% of police forces. Oleeo is also working with four NHS organisations, making Somerset NHS Foundation Trust its fifth health service client.

Samir Khelil, director at Oleeo, said: “As a company, we have been doing what we do for 27 years, and that is helping to transform the way that employers recruit. We want to do the same for the NHS, working with organisations like Somerset that want to collaborate with us to adjust the status quo.

“We don’t just want to work with people who want to keep doing things the same way. We want to transform what they do, and Somerset are completely aligned with achieving this.”

The Oleeo software will enable the trust to speed up recruitment by automating aspects of the recruitment process and giving managers and candidates access to dashboards that show where responses or checks need to be completed.

Taunton, Somerset

The trust was also looking for more flexibility to adapt the system for its needs, for a better user experience for managers and candidates, for better data, and for better support for its diversity, equality and inclusivity team.

The Oleeo solution has diversity built into its product stack, from a tool to pick up terms that could have an adverse impact on applications, to reporting tools that can help recruitment teams identify groups that are not coming forward in response to ads and adjust processes in response.

Iain Reed added: “There are around 350 different careers paths at our trust, from doctors, nurse and allied health professionals, to porters, cleaners and clinical coding and many in between.

“We put a lot of emphasis on training because we don’t want to lose good colleagues, but that makes it extremely important to get that initial recruitment right and that is what Oleeo will help us to do. We absolutely have the ambition to say: this is the way everybody should recruit to the NHS.”

Oleeo’s off the shelf solution is fully integrated with the NHS Electronic Staff Record and with NHS Jobs, and the company is keen to work with NHS customers as they come on board to create additional features to support them.

Is ‘smart health tech’ solving the right problems for the NHS?

We need to focus on solving the right problems with technology, and facilitate better conditions, in order to improve smart healthcare adoption at scale in the NHS, writes Dr Paul Deffley, chief medical officer for Alcidion.

Where would you position the NHS in relation to other countries, when it comes to the adoption of innovative technologies to support patient care?

Dr Paul Deffley

Recent research from Newsweek and Statista, which ranked the world’s top ‘smart hospitals’, placed its first NHS trust at position 72 on the list.

This finding caught the attention of delegates at March’s Digital Health Rewired 2024 conference, who were surprised by the extent of the seemingly faster pace of smart technology on the other side of the Atlantic.

Notably, led by the Mayo Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic, and Massachusetts General Hospital, more than 100 US healthcare organisations hold a heavily dominant presence on the list of 330 hospitals. So why have they been successful, and should this mean anything to the NHS?

An opportunity to reflect and learn? Moving beyond pockets of innovation

Newsweek’s global ranking is of course only one piece of research, unlikely to comprehensively represent technological deployments at every level of healthcare.

Although a further 21 UK sites receive mentions further into the ranking, I would suggest that there are great examples of smart healthcare in the UK, to which the league table doesn’t do justice.

Yet adoption of many innovative technologies that can positively impact patient care, still tends to happen in pockets in the NHS, often in the form of pilots that struggle to scale and deliver impact more broadly.

There has been much purported around the role of smart healthcare for decades – a promise that still holds much excitement. But progress at-scale often remains hindered.

As someone who has worked in clinical leadership and CCIO roles in NHS providers,  commissioning and system transformation, before working directly in the health tech industry, I remain passionate that obstacles can be removed and sizeable benefits consistently realised. 

With that in mind, Newsweek’s research offers a reflection point on ways to boost effective use of innovative technologies available today to the NHS, by understanding what has worked for peers around the world.

What are the barriers we need to overcome?

Heart failure is one clinical priority that could be better served by smart technology. Evidence, that has now existed for many years, has shown that remotely monitored heart failure patients realise better outcomes.

In many cases patients on remote monitoring pathways are less likely to be admitted to hospital, more likely to comply with medication, and can be less likely to suffer complications or death as a consequence of heart failure.

Yet, many patients in the UK still have no access to remote patient monitoring, despite an urgent push for such approaches during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The problem in creating ubiquitous access to such services is not the technology itself, or evidence of efficacy – both of which can be surfaced. So, what is needed?

Back to our smart hospital exemplars – whilst highlighting AI, robotics, digital imaging, and telemedicine as standout areas hospitals have excelled in, the ranking doesn’t detail recipes for success.

Speculatively though, a panel discussion I was involved with at the Rewired conference, suggested possible answers, that might lend lessons for better adoption in the NHS.

Are we solving the right problems?

Dr Lia Ali, a clinical advisor to NHS England’s Transformation Directorate, told the conference that for smart health tech to be successful, it first needs to solve a problem.

This might sound obvious. However, technology vendors often still build functionality without understanding the problem they are trying to solve.

In the US, many smart hospitals are likely to have been successful because they have used technology to respond to a problem that has both a patient and commercial level benefit. These are in essence commercial organisations that need to manage profit and loss sustainably. Failure to do so can have significant impact, or worst-case scenario they might cease to exist.

That is not to say they aren’t driven by patient outcomes. But this overt commercial driver means that hospitals are often willing to take organisational risk and invest to achieve new models of care that can and have unlocked benefits.

This is less inherent in NHS behaviour. However, a different version of the same driver facing NHS organisations is productivity.

Karen Kirkham, chief medical officer for Deloitte, told the conference that demand continues to outstrip capacity, and that investment in traditional models of care will not meet rising pressures. This is a global phenomena, irrespective of funding models.

A commercial message might not land well within a social institution like the NHS. But it ultimately has the same need as US counterparts: to effectively manage increasing demand within a constrained resource environment without compromising patient safety.

Smart health tech needs to deliver on productivity if we are to see increased uptake in the UK. That might mean enabling earlier intervention, either within a hospital or a healthcare system, to reduce risks of complication, and prevent patients presenting with more severe and demanding conditions downstream.

It might mean investment in patient flow – again within hospitals and across settings. A recent flow deployment in Australia saw a 13% reduction in length of stay – solving problems for busy clinicians, for patients who want to be at home, and for stretched healthcare systems that can gain new intelligence on where they need to deflect pressures and improve support.

It might mean rethinking virtual care and remote monitoring, and remodelling pathways to improve our ability to manage risk in the community.

And it might also mean addressing common causes of inefficiency and patient safety concern. For example, technology has recently been launched to address a widespread systemic problem of volumes of patient results not being acknowledged – with implications for delayed care and ineffective use of billions of pounds worth of tests.

Creating the environment for smart healthcare

Creating the right conditions for success also means recognising that new approaches take time.

I’ve practised as a doctor for more than 20 years. I understand the tremendous value in just seeing patients: pattern recognition, observing them, witnessing behaviours from the moment they leave the waiting room.

In a new virtual care environment, we don’t have face-to-face collaborative conversations with patients to guide judgement. If we ask doctors to make decisions on remote monitoring data and patient reported surveys – that is significant change.

We design these approaches for good reason, but we cannot underestimate the transformation that goes alongside it. We need to make sure that we do not over focus on the technology, and leave people behind: both staff and citizens.

Expansion is more like gardening than blueprinting

Advancing from a sea of pilots to widespread mainstream adoption of smart tech is also about more than blueprinting.

Successful smart hospitals are not just a process to be transferred: a desire to cookie cut, to blueprint and scale, will fail unless we observe the true breadth of elements needed.

We need iterative approaches, and clinical leadership to articulate change and overcome bumps and challenges.

Effective technology adoption means listening to the problems of patients and of clinical teams, who might not be interested in the lofty ideals of smart healthcare.

For successful adoption, there is a need to observe, monitor and treat smart healthcare as a living programme. Just as different approaches to gardening work in one location but not another – in healthcare we are dealing with unique environments that must be understood.

Sustainable and Social Impact of Ethical Development

As the North West of the UK sees more regeneration and development, groups like Integritas Property Group (IPG) are offering a beacon of sustainable development in recently undeveloped cities; sharing a commitment to building communities that not only thrive in the present but also for generations to come, instilling a sense of confidence in the long-term sustainability of their projects.

The heart of ethical development lies in a process that ensures every aspect of its projects embodies sustainability, from conception to completion. Liverpool, a city currently undergoing significant development and redevelopment, is a prime example of how developers can contribute to the creation of thriving communities. Ethical developer Integritas Property Group, with several projects in the city, strategically integrates sustainability strategies into every phase of development. This approach, starting with the careful selection of project sites and active engagement with local stakeholders, fosters a sense of community ownership from the outset. Through comprehensive environmental impact assessments, developers can evaluate potential consequences, paving the way for informed decision-making.

For ethical developers, sustainable principles guide every decision, with a particular focus on building design. Residential buildings and renovation projects are all centred around sustainable design and construction, adhering closely to established guidelines. Energy efficiency is a top priority, with features such as insulation, triple-glazed windows, and LED lighting, all contributing to a reduced environmental impact of development. These features not only benefit the environment but also enhance comfort and affordability for residents, making sustainable living a reality.

The commitment to renewable energy is also high on the agenda. Integrated solar panels and heat pumps will be installed across properties to reduce the carbon footprint and future-proof the developments against rising energy costs. Unlike fossil fuels, which are subject to price fluctuations and geopolitical risks, renewable energy sources offer long-term price stability. Investing in renewable energy systems for new buildings can provide a hedge against future energy price volatility, offering predictability and financial stability over the building’s lifespan.

Sustainable building materials, of course, play a pivotal role in the projects, as a focus on low-carbon materials, sustainably sourced timber, and recycled metals lessens the environmental impact of such big projects and construction. By prioritising the use of more ethical materials, it can be ensured that these buildings promote not only environmental sustainability but also occupant health and well-being. Sustainable building materials are typically designed to be durable and long-lasting, with properties that resist degradation, rot, and pests. Investing in high-quality, durable materials can prolong the lifespan of the building, reduce maintenance requirements, and minimise the need for frequent replacements, saving both time and money in the long run.

Water management and conservation are equally important, with innovative strategies like rainwater harvesting and greywater recycling minimising consumption. Installing water-efficient fixtures helps empower residents to play an active role in conservation efforts, fostering a culture of sustainability within communities.  Compliance with these regulations is essential for avoiding penalties and legal liabilities. Implementing robust water management practices can help buildings meet regulatory requirements and demonstrate environmental responsibility.

The commitment to sustainability doesn’t end with new construction; developers are now also recognising the potential for impact in existing buildings, where thoughtful retrofitting can unlock significant energy and cost savings. Through comprehensive audits and tailored plans, new life can be breathed into older structures, bringing them in line with modern sustainability standards. This can be done with cutting-edge technology, such as improved insulation and window replacements to smart heating controls and renewable energy systems. If leveraging the latest innovations, building construction can maximise efficiency and minimise waste, ensuring that communities remain at the forefront of sustainability long into the future, providing a sense of reassurance and confidence in the long-term commitment to sustainable development.

The sociability impact can also be around supporting employment and the level of influence that a development has on a community. Based in Liverpool, Integritas Property Group, is committed to sourcing local workers and companies to work on these projects. This not only enhances the employability level of the area, giving locals employment for the duration of projects (which can range from one year to five years plus), but when creating many communities across a city, this is then creating a whole new employment pool for the area, offering local people ongoing work as more project and more communities under the brand develops.

An ethical approach to building and development is a great way to build new communities, and this can be defined by a commitment to sustainability and social impact. Whether this be from the careful selection of project sites, the integration of renewable energy, or the retrofitting of existing buildings. Through innovation, collaboration, and a relentless pursuit of excellence, projects like these are shaping communities and will continue to benefit areas for years to come.

Why project management training and software solutions are vital for local government

By Sophie Brown, Commercial Director of Flowlio

As a project-management training and software company, working within central and local government, social housing and with SMEs, we see organisations faced with similar challenges and having to deal with the same issues, again and again. These include a disjointed approach to delivering change and transformation projects, people working in silos and inconsistency in the way projects and new tech are introduced into everyday work.

In few sectors is this truer than in local government. With increasingly stringent regulatory standards, the recent council elections and a possible new national government just months away, the need for effective project delivery and change management is a top priority.

By following some key principles, investing in people and using strong software solutions, many common project-management challenges can be overcome. Projects can realise the true potential their creators had in mind for them, they can save time and money, boost staff engagement and efficiency, and deliver better outcomes for the public.

We have recently completed a huge piece of work for a local authority based in the North West, who were embarking on a Cloud- migration programme. Firstly, they engaged us to review the project. They then asked us to help design and support the implementation of a new target operating model. This involved the establishment of new ways of working and crucially setting up a PMO to support the delivery of the council’s strategic plan. We trained the team in project management fundamentals, sharing our knowledge and providing tools to ensure that future projects are delivered efficiently and result in the best outcomes for the council and the public. Our work with the council has been a very good example of how to establish excellent project-management practices in local government and other organisations.

An important place to start, for an overall idea of your ability to deliver projects, is an in-depth governance review. It’s important to look at issues such as the way projects are established, managed and closed out, as well as how staff communicate, ownership and accountability within projects, and measuring and realising the benefits and outcomes that are expected to be delivered.

It’s vital to look at your team’s skills to make sure they are able to not only work on a project, but implement the outcomes on an everyday basis. We look particularly at project managers’ skills and how they are able to communicate the aims and actions needed for a successful result. We also look at staff perception of projects, to make sure it aligns with senior leaders’ visions.

Our analysis of all these issues combines to give our clients a holistic view of whether their projects are achievable or in trouble.

It’s also crucial that there is a clear business case for doing a project, with a golden thread back to organisational objectives. This ensures alignment and makes sure time and resources are used effectively, not wasted, and that the project remains on a critical success path.

Organisations must always look for the points at which a new project may overlap with other pieces of work or affect existing processes. You should ensure that there is good engagement between key stakeholders and so that no one is left confused or disgruntled and economies of scale can be achieved.

One of the key problems we see, particularly when helping with a technology project, is that outside companies often have their own methodology and project managers and are very focused on simply installing a piece of tech or other solution in an organisation. What gets missed is engaging the workforce on the benefits of the new tech and training them to use it. It’s a mistake to simply get IT teams to sort out a project and the tech provider to deliver it, without much other joined-up company thinking. If the staff aren’t ready for it or fully onboard with it, it is likely to be a massive failure.

Another vital aspect of project management, that many organisations don’t fully get to grips with, is transitioning the project into business as usual. If a new project feels dumped onto employees, without careful and transparent integration, it creates chaos, duplication of effort, people not working as a team and pointing the finger at each other, when things go wrong. Suppliers, too, must be fully made aware of how a new way of working fits in with them.

Working with clients we can tie all the various factors together to make sure that any project has a high success factor within any public sector organisation.

After the implementation of the new target operating model for our council client, our training has equipped the team with the key tools needed to self-manage projects sufficiently going forward. These include stakeholder mapping tools, planning tools, budget trackers and risk and issues management tools.

Public sector organisations need to make sure that everyone involved in the delivery of projects is trained in a methodology, like Flowlio’s, so they don’t work in silos, overlapping and bumping up against others’ efforts and creating risk for an organisation and the people they employ and serve.

Flowlio’s Ofqual government-accredited training course and our new end-to-end SaaS solution give people an overview and visibility on projects, right across the board. There are no hiding places for people not performing or engaging with an initiative.

People must have the right tools to develop and implement projects. They need to be prepared for any potential changes in work methods. Giving staff the tools they need to deliver successful projects is vital, we’ve seen many projects fail due to inadequate systems and information not being available, poor audit trails and single points of failure. It’s important to get access to the right information, in one place, and have a high-level overview and a detailed view of project performance. Our SaaS solution provides just that and more, it’s an enterprise-wide solution with end-to-end workflow and alerting, enabling teams to deliver joined-up change projects.

Having the right tools and systems enable people to do things quickly, because they strip out bureaucracy. They help avoid mission creep and allow project teams to deliver and close projects effectively.  Our portfolio manager and performance dashboards provide visibility and transparency of project performance, helping senior leaders to make informed decisions, and Flowlio’s benefits recognition tool clearly shows senior leaders the worth of an initiative.

Project management can be a costly headache in large, complicated public sector bodies. But with software and training solutions from companies like Flowlio, it doesn’t have to be.

For more information about Flowlio’s project-management SaaS, training solutions visit www.flowlio.co.uk

Lincolnshire County Council streamlines both long and short-term highways maintenance with Confirm enquiry forms

Summary:

  1. Lincolnshire County Council (LLC) needed to improve and expedite its operational and financial highways management processes, from initial defect reporting through to completion confirmation of the final repair.
  2. Over five years, the council saved more than £1.5m after using Confirm to replace old office systems.
  3. The council also saved more than £3m of non-cash related savings due to improved efficiencies of its operations.
  4. The use of Confirm Connect enables highways inspectors’ maintenance teams to spend longer in the field, without returning to the office between jobs to complete paperwork.

Case study:

Highways Officers can allocate resources to each reported issue while having insight into ongoing and future projects.

Lincolnshire County Council has reported both time and resource savings when carrying out maintenance and repairs since adopting the new reporting system, from Brightly, a Siemens company.

Richard Fenwick

The enquiry form system, within Brightly’s Confirm asset management solution for local government, allows Highways Officers in Lincolnshire to address reports made by the public by creating forward planning briefs (FPB).

FPB lists are automatically updated in the system, which streamlines the resource management process and ensures that issues are resolved in a timely manner.

How it works

Members of the public in Lincolnshire are able to report road-related issues – for example, potholes, flooding or a fallen tree – to the council. Highways Officers in Lincolnshire County Council can then create FPBs to set up a job for each reported issue. FPBs enable job timeframes and budgets to be allocated to a job and the system issues task orders to contractors who will execute the repairs. FPBs also enable the council to efficiently store vast amounts of information about jobs in a centralised system, including where and when they are taking place, and the completion status.

Richard Fenwick, Head of Highways Asset Management at Lincolnshire County Council, explains: “When a job gets raised, we calculate target costs for our service team. When the job is completed, we can look back and compare the estimate against what it ended up costing.”

He adds that when a FPB has been set up, an action officer (for example, a Highways Officer) is assigned, and they can set and update the job status according to its progress.

Confirm’s enquiry form system allows jobs to be viewed and filtered according to their status, date, priority level and electoral division, and it provides a visual map view showing the location of upcoming projects. Job information, as well as the map, can be viewed by all users of the system within the council, for example, Highways Officers. It can be shared with teams within the council who are not linked to the highways management team, as well as external parties, such as contractors, thanks to Confirm’s capability to integrate with numerous other software such as Power BI.

New and improved approach

Lincolnshire County Council started using Confirm for its asset management in 2010 and a few years ago, it rolled out the FPB system to centralise information about ongoing and future jobs, as well as improving collaboration.

Fenwick explains: “Before we started using enquiry forms for our ongoing and future schemes, job information was stored in spreadsheets – typically one per team. This meant that within a certain area, the Programme Leader for carriageways, the Surfaces Treatments Manager and the Highways Manager would each have a spreadsheet of schemes. If a local manager wanted to know what was happening in that area, they would have to ask and review each of those spreadsheets.”

The new approach, he says, is more efficient and consistent, saving the council more than £1.5m over five years.

It ensures that only one job per issue is reported, rather than duplicates. For example, if a pothole is reported and an FPB is created for it, officers and contractors will see it in the system and will be aware that it’s being resolved.

“The more areas using one source of truth, the better,” says Fenwick.

Efficiency first

The new system hugely saves on time, because officers and/or contractors in the field can view and update jobs on-site – with a phone or tablet, for example – and seamlessly move between jobs, rather than having to report to an office after each one to update relevant paperwork. The map view also enhances the logistics of repairs by enabling jobs to be addressed in order, based on proximity. For example, pot holes can be repaired from East to West of a route, rather than in no particular order.

Fenwick says: “We’ve had examples of people reporting a pothole in the morning and it’s been repaired before the end of the day. In cases like that, a Highways Officer was working in close proximity to the reported issue; they’ve been instantly notified of it and have been able to take care of it later that day.”

Fenwick says a key benefit of Confirm is its capability to be tailored to meet the needs of Lincolnshire County Council’s highways management team. Indeed, this particular system was purpose-built to enable better monitoring of current and future jobs, as well as related resource planning, yet other local authorities in the UK are using the software differently.

Fenwick says: “It’s a tool that is flexible enough to be shaped around the needs of us and our contractors. It’s a comprehensive, data-driven solution with a user-friendly interface that enables information to be viewed and extracted easily.”

Looking forward, Lincolnshire County Council is working with Brightly to enhance the system by enabling it to show logged jobs as far three years in advance. This will enable Highways Officers to better manage their resources – including budgets – across longer time periods.

Ultimately, by continuing to respond to reports in a timely and cost-efficient manner, Lincolnshire County Council is further improving the public’s trust in its capabilities, while a facilitating safe, thriving community.

Do you want to revolutionise your asset management? Click here to learn more 

OggaDoon shares success from work with MOD and Logiq Consulting on the Secure by Design launch

OggaDoon, the leading Bristol-based PR agency, has shared highlights from their time working with the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and Logiq Consulting where they provided marketing and PR services to launch Secure by Design, UK Defence’s new approach to cyber security risk management. The collaboration saw OggaDoon research and produce a complex marketing and communications strategy to initiate cultural and behavioural change. This was followed through execution across the MOD generating substantial awareness and recognition and recall of Secure by Design, as project teams and leads adopted the new approach to reduce cyber vulnerabilities and increase resilience to attacks.

Secure by Design in Defence is the latest element in the UK Government’s adoption of early cyber risk identification and protection across its departments. For UK Defence and its supply chain, this heralds a purposeful shift from accreditation to ongoing self-assessment, moving cyber risk management into daily habitual activity. Secure by Design in Health, Secure by Design in Consumer Connectable Products and Secure by Design in the Cabinet Office are Government-led programmes that build towards a cyber-secure future for the UK.

OggaDoon was appointed in early 2022 to build a marketing programme that would reach people across all levels by utilising a multi-channel, multi-layered approach using shared key messages adapted to segmented audiences. With the MOD being a complex organisation with many levels and a myriad of stakeholders, information needed to be clear in catering to both military and civilian personnel to deliver awareness of this transformational shift in the organisation’s approach to cyber security.

Running alongside the development of the Secure by Design process, tooling and governance led by Logiq Consulting, the marketing communications plan was curated with audience engagement, research and testing over 15 months before the launch in July 2023. The launch and subsequent campaign combined strong, persistent internal communications and marketing, with external PR and media coverage as well as third-party event participation.

Internal to the MOD’s large headcount, OggaDoon, supported by Logiq Consulting, delivered regular communications including Lunch and Learns, Defnet articles, Secure by Design portal content, and weekly and monthly newsletter contributions. These were augmented with Defnet blogs, Town Hall sessions, an MOD-wide All Hands briefing, an All Questions session, an episode for the Cyber Confident podcast, 5+ case studies, 5+ fact sheets, 12+ articles for internal magazines/platforms, participation in internal cyber and security days, and a MODNET splash screen amongst other activities. OggaDoon was instructive in the inception of the Secure by Design portal (produced by Logiq Consulting). The Bristol PR firm also created the Secure by Design Working Comms Group which brought together communication leads from across the Frontline Commands and Top Level Budget holders.

Caroline Macdonald, CEO of OggaDoon, said:

“We used our experience of working with complex organisational structures to deliver effective marketing and communications for the launch of Secure by Design. It was a complicated process, keeping in mind the multiple organisations within the MOD and the sheer number of people employed.

“Following the initial launch, we continued to maintain the concentrated awareness marketing as we progressed throughout the organisation. At the same time, we started to deliver specific messaging about the finer details of Secure by Design, while adapting our content to suit the type of audience groups we were targeting.

“It’s been fantastic to see MOD teams and the UK Defence supply chain across all levels embrace this dynamic change. For over 15 years, we have helped public sector organisations and primes to implement change management using effective marketing and communications that connect with their intended audiences. Sometimes it can feel like an impossible task, yet it is achievable with good planning and steady execution.”

Following the official launch in 2023 for all new projects, Secure by Design is now embedded into the organisation with the transition ongoing until 2026. As of March 2024, over 200 projects have registered and started this adoption. The MOD is recognised for Secure by Design by the supply chain and other public sector departments as leading the way. 1,500 people attended the Lunch and Learn sessions to learn more about Secure by Design principles. In terms of PR, the content generated 20 articles, equating to 1,000,000 total monthly unique users. Now, it is part of the discussion with everyone talking about it.

Learn more about OggaDoon’s change management solutions here: oggadoon.co.uk/change-management/

Data of over 10,000 customers put at risk by HMRC breaches declared to ICO

Reporter: Stuart Littleford

More than 2,000 devices reported lost or stolen across seven government departments in 2023

Apricorn, the leading manufacturer of software-free, 256-bit AES XTS hardware-encrypted USB drives, has today announced findings from annual Freedom of Information (FoI) responses into data breaches and device loss within government departments. The results highlight an alarming number of customers potentially affected by breaches declared to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) by the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) during 2023.

HMRC noted that the number of customers potentially affected by the 18 breach reports on notifiable incidents disclosed to the ICO totalled 10,209. This is concerning given the sensitivity of the data that HMRC houses which ranges from personally identifiable information (PII) to financial data concerning tax, benefits and pensions which could pose a significant risk if it should fall into the wrong hands.

Worryingly, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA), which declared 19 breaches in 2021 and just nine in 2022, disclosed a colossal 278 breaches in 2023. This marks a huge increase on previous years and implies that standards are slipping and that there’s work to be done in securing data.

Other departments disclosing data breaches included the House of Commons which experienced 41 data breaches in total and the House of Lords which disclosed eight Near Misses (where there may be no evidence that data has been accessed inappropriately) Losses and Breaches. Of these eight incidents, one was recorded as a Loss and one as a Breach.

“Government departments will inevitably fall victim to data breaches due to the valuable data they handle, but it’s positive to see these breaches being rightfully declared to the ICO. However, the effects and repercussions for the government departments and their customers could be hugely detrimental. With so much at risk, a back-to-basics approach may well be required to establish how so many breaches are slipping the net”, said Jon Fielding, Managing Director, EMEA Apricorn.

Breaches aside, of the 15 departments questioned, nine declared the loss and theft of multiple organisational devices. The HMRC again tipped the scale, having reported 1015 lost and stolen devices, including 583 mobiles, 428 tablets and four USBs. Somewhat more than the 635 that went amiss in 2022, 346 in 2020 and 375 in 2019. A significant number of the reported phone losses were, however, the result of an internal audit of legacy phones that had been replaced with newer models.

Amongst others, the Ministry of Justice misplaced 653, the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero – 122, the Department for Education (DfE) – 78, Home Office – 153, House of Commons – 65,  and Department for Science, Innovation and Technology – 54.

“The number of devices being lost or stolen within these departments is huge and whilst they are all encrypted, it’s important that they have robust back-up plans in place. This is particularly prudent in the throes of a ransomware attack which is highly plausible with such sensitive data at play. Ensuring they have at least three copies of data, on at least two different media, with at least one copy held offsite is a must. Equally, the recovery process must also be rigorously and regularly tested to ensure full data restoration can be achieved effectively,” added Fielding.

An HMRC spokesperson told GPSJ: “Security and privacy are at the heart of our work as we deal with tens of millions of customers every year.

“We take quick action to deactivate any lost or stolen devices and investigate all security incidents, taking steps to reduce future recurrences.” 

Background

  • All HMRC standard issue devices are encrypted to HMG standards, and they are all deactivated remotely once they have been reported lost or stolen.  
  • We constantly monitor and review our security measures, strengthening them where required. 
  • Furthermore, HMRC staff are required to report all lost or stolen HMRC IT devices as security incidents and all security incidents are investigated. After the loss / theft has been reported, IT devices are sometimes subsequently located and recovered.

About the FoI Requests        

The research was conducted through Freedom of Information requests submitted through Whatdotheyknow.com. The requests, submitted between February and April 2024, along with the successful responses can be found here.

Support for football focused mental wellbeing programme

Scottish Health Secretary announces additional £100,000 for the initiative.

A programme which uses football to promote mental health and wellbeing has received additional funding from Scottish Government.

The Changing Room – Extra Time initiative has been awarded £100,000 for a fourth year.

It builds on The Changing Room – a 12-week programme which takes place at football stadiums across Scotland and supports men to open up as they participate in walking football games, stadium tours, pitch-side walks and talks from a motivational speaker.

Extra Time aims to give people the chance to speak in more depth about their mental wellbeing and explore areas which are giving them particular challenges or concerns.

The programme is delivered by SAMH (Scottish Action for Mental Health) in partnership with the SPFL Trust and associated community trusts at Aberdeen (AFC Community Trust), Rangers (Rangers Charity Foundation), Heart of Midlothian (Big Hearts) and Hibernian (Hibernian Community Foundation) football clubs.

Health Secretary Neil Gray, who visited the initiative at Pittodrie, home of Aberdeen FC as part of Mental Health Awareness Week, said:

“We know that it’s never been more important to look after our physical and mental wellbeing. It is pleasing to see this initiative go into its fourth year and to hear that is really is making a difference to people’s lives.

“We shouldn’t be afraid to talk about how we are feeling and this project has really helped people open up about their mental health.”

Billy Watson, Chief Executive at SAMH said:

“The Changing Room – Extra Time project changes lives. It builds confidence, helps get relationships on the right track and it has even saved lives.

“Football and mental health are a great match. What this project shows is that football fans are not just comfortable talking about their mental health, they’re really keen to do so – as long as it’s in the right place. The Changing Room – Extra Time is the right place and we’re really grateful that the Scottish Government has agreed to continue to fund it.”

Kyle Hewitt, 37, from Dyce attended Changing Room Extra Time at Aberdeen FC and said:

“I grew up aware of mental health and its potential impacts on people and those around them because of my own experience. But sometimes I didn’t feel like I had the ability to face the world. I had low moments as a parent and a husband, I wasn’t always nice to be around and I could be hyper-critical of myself.

“Then I embarked on a journey through Extra Time with like-minded men and amazing facilitators from SAMH. I realised I had been deflecting, avoiding and bottling things up. I was able to give myself credit for what I was doing. I also became more resilient and better at creating positive habits and finding ways to change my outlook and mind-set. I have thrived as a result.”

Aberdeen Community Trust Chief Executive, Liz Bowie said:

“We are delighted to deliver the Changing Room Extra Time programme at Aberdeen FC Community Trust, working in partnership with SAMH and the SPFL Trust. We have learned so much through the support of SAMH, which has ensured that our staff are appropriately trained and mentored to provide excellent support to the men who participate in this initiative. We have seen amazing results and crucially have watched strong, supportive networks build amongst the participants which extend well beyond the term of the course itself. Football is a force for good and is so powerful in encouraging men to talk and open up to each other in support of their mental wellbeing.”

‘PLATINUM STATUS’ – A NICE award for FourNet 

Reporter: Stuart Littleford

FourNet becomes the only partner in the UK to earn the top tier accreditation

Digital transformation and customer experience experts, FourNet, have been awarded Platinum Status by NICE, one of the world’s leading CX AI providers.  

FourNet is one of just four Solution Providers this year, and the only partner in the UK, to earn the top tier accreditation, which is part of NICE’s Partner Programme.

Globally, only 14 companies across all partner types have reached NICE Platinum Status this year.

“Being a Platinum Partner brings with it a range of positive benefits for both our companies. We look forward to continuing to grow together, and to benefit our customers as a result.”

Last year, FourNet was awarded NICE Customer Experience Partner of the Year. 

Richard Pennington, FourNet CEO

 “Our partnership with FourNet is a great example of what it means to partner for success. Working with FourNet to deliver best in class solutions brings benefits for both of our customer bases,” said Darren Rushworth, President, NICE International. 

“We are thrilled to be able to award them with Platinum Partner status, which is a significant milestone.”

Both businesses have recently been engaged in a customer experience project for UK dementia charity, Alzheimer’s Society, which is expected to transform the organisation’s dementia support services and fundraising capabilities. 

“Achieving Platinum Status is a very strong indication of the incredibly important working partnership FourNet has with NICE,” said Richard Pennington, FourNet CEO. 

The contact centre solution has been tailor-made to ensure best-in-class support for people living with dementia, with key input to the design from people with lived experience through Dementia Voice, Alzheimer Society specialists and their Dementia Friends programme. 

Award-winning FourNet is one of the fastest growing privately owned technology companies in the UK, providing communications, cloud, contact centre, managed service and secure infrastructure solutions to a broad range of enterprise and public sector organisations.

With offices in Manchester and Derby, FourNet works with some of the most critical and secure organisations in the UK, including more than 30 UK Government departments and agencies, as well as emergency services and local authorities.

“Connect and collaborate”: Early Career Network launched by Institute of Economic Development

Reporter: Stacy Clarke

The Institute of Economic Development (IED), the UK’s leading independent professional body representing economic development and regeneration practitioners working for local and regional communities, has launched its Early Career Network: a dedicated platform to enable those in the early stages of their economic development careers to connect and collaborate.

The network’s mission is to create a pool of resources to help members’ progress their careers and build their knowledge of the opportunities available within the economic development industry via networking events, accessible channels of communication, and other activities including talks with experts on economic development.

As well as a dedicated on LinkedIn group, meetings will typically run on a monthly basis and take place online. These meetings will be accessible via a link shared exclusively to members in the network’s WhatsApp group chat, and include:

  • ‘Talks with experts’ – a series of interview-style sessions with speakers from the economic development sector, as suggested by members of the network.
  • Spotlight sessions – where members of the network take time out of the meeting to explain and describe what their day-to-day roles consist of, as well as sharing industry and events information. This will allow for networking and further understanding of the opportunities within the sector.
  • Bi-weekly admin meetings – run by a core group of five volunteer members, these meetings will take place to enable the ongoing running of the network and for members to touch base if they would like to. This group, which will rotate, will also own communications platforms and publish content.

Micaela Benvenuto, an Economic Development Consultant at Mickledore, is one of the volunteer members driving the network.

“We are really excited to launch the Early Career Network, which brings a valuable opportunity to connect with others in the early stages of their economic development career, and already we have 40 members,” she said. “Not only will members gain on-the-ground industry insights from other members, they will be able to expand their professional network which could lead to new business partnerships and/or potential career opportunities. Members can also build their personal brands and professional credibility by being a part of a network affiliated with a well-renowned organisation such as the IED.

“From my perspective, it is helping me to explore different areas of economic development and connect with peers of the sector to understand how we can better partner up to intervene in ways that may produce positive outcomes.”

The network is open to anyone who is a member of the IED and in their early stages of their economic development career or aspiring to join the sector, including students. Those who do not hold an IED membership but are interested in joining the network are encouraged to communicate with admin@ied.co.uk and attend one of the network’s meetings and/or be co-opted into the group for an agreed period of time.

Claire Hill, Economic Growth Officer at West Lindsey Council, told GPSJ: Having worked across the private, not-for-profit and public sectors, I have arrived in economic development later than others. The professional networks I have already established are outside of this area of work. The Early Career Network therefore seemed an ideal opportunity to connect with others in a similar position, and further my understanding of the wider work happening in this field.”

“I am excited by the opportunities this network brings, especially in terms of learning from my industry peers and staying up-to-date with the latest developments,” added Martin Owen, Planning/Regeneration Consultant at BE Group.

IED Executive Director Nigel Wilcock commented: “The Early Career Network is a fantastic initiative to unite professionals in the early stages of their career across the economic development sector. It is built very much on the principle of co-creation between members of the network, and we are excited by its potential to inform and inspire the progression of up-and-coming economic development professionals.”

More information about the Early Career Network, and its membership, can be found here.

With nearly 1,400 IED members overall, professionals are drawn from the public sector (local authorities, universities and government departments) and the private sector (consultancies supporting economic development in its widest sense). For higher education the IED offers student membership for full or part-time students working towards a qualification in a relevant discipline but who are not in employment.

Fusion21 invites bids for £250 million Materials Supply and Associated Services Framework

Reporter: Stuart Littleford

Procurement organisation and social enterprise Fusion21 has announced the renewal of its national Materials Supply and Associated Services Framework, worth up to £250 million over four years, and is now inviting bids from interested suppliers providing regional or national coverage.

Designed to supply construction materials to housing providers, as well as the wider public sector, managing the delivery of repairs and maintenance works, the framework can accommodate multi-year contracts and will provide access to all goods required throughout the property life cycle.

Offering innovation in technology and service delivery solutions, and a new lot for ‘Adapted and Accessible Living’, the framework will assist members in achieving greater operational efficiencies, in addition to improving first-time fix performance. 

Split into a total of 6 lots, the structure is:

  • Lot 1 General Building Materials
  • Lot 2 Electrical
  • Lot 3 Plumbing and Heating
  • Lot 4 Managed Services
  • Lot 5 Kitchens
  • Lot 6 Adapted and Accessible Living

Peter Francis, Group Executive Director (Operations) at Fusion21 told GPSJ: “In response to member and supplier feedback, our streamlined offer launches in September 2024, enabling the housing and wider public sector to manage built assets effectively, while enhancing business performance.

“The renewal of the framework includes both energy-efficient and net-zero products and can implement contracts that support innovation and net-zero ambitions, having a positive impact on communities and the wider environment.

“Providing a compliant framework, the refreshed offer has a variety of cost models and flexible call-off options and as with all of Fusion21’s frameworks, the Materials Supply and Associated Services Framework will help members to deliver social value they can see in communities, aligned with their organisational priorities.”

Tender applications are welcome from interested organisations that meet the criteria set out in the tender documentation, now available on the Delta e-Sourcing Portal via the following link: hubs.li/Q02wm2190

The submission deadline is Friday 14 June 2024 at 10am.

AXREM and Highland Marketing partner to support diagnostic health tech industry

UK trade association AXREM and health tech specialist agency Highland Marketing have formed a new partnership, to help support a sector that serves vital healthcare services. 

Sally Edgington

AXREM represents member companies that collectively provide UK hospitals with most of their diagnostic medical imaging technology, and radiotherapy equipment.

Mark Venables

The association has seen substantial growth in recent years, with membership also including suppliers of health IT, AI and care equipment such as patient monitors. AXREM helps to facilitate cross industry dialogue on key issues affecting the sector.

Highland’s team has extensive experience building brands and telling stories for health technology providers of all sizes. It has generated substantial media attention for the sector and has created countless headlines that demonstrate the positive impact of technologies within healthcare.

Highland Marketing has become highly regarded as a champion of the health tech sector for more than two decades. The agency provides a full range of communications, content, marketing, research, and consultancy services, complemented by an influential advisory board with NHS CIO, CNIO and CCIO experience.

The new partnership will help to combine and leverage expertise across the two organisations, including the delivery of a webinar series around marketing best practice in the industry for AXREM members.

Sally Edgington, AXREM’s CEO, said: “Our members work closely with radiologists, radiographers, oncologists, and many other healthcare professionals throughout the UK to deliver technologies that make a meaningful difference to patient care. They have a powerful story to tell, and a great deal of expertise in areas of healthcare that are currently undergoing significant transformation. I look forward to working closely with Highland Marketing, who will no doubt have many valuable insights to share with our membership.”

Mark Venables, CEO for Highland Marketing, said: “The UK’s health tech sector is a thriving marketplace that plays a significant role in supporting the NHS and UK healthcare more widely. AXREM has built a strong reputation and represents a focussed and important part of that market – which we have already been fortunate to support. We look forward to collaborating and sharing expertise to help to spread the story even further.”

Instant barbecue pioneer creates nationwide BBQ and Campfire Safety Code

Ahead of the BBQ and campfire season, Bar-Be-Quick, the UK’s pioneer of the instant barbecue, has created a nationwide BBQ and Campfire Safety Code to ensure people can enjoy cooking outside safely.

Local Authorities across the country have their own legislation to deter people from using barbecues or campsites in areas of high risk—for example, moorland. In recent years, due to climate change, the UK has seen hotter and drier summers, which have been a tinder box when people think they know about fire safety but are unsure about best practices.

Caroline Morris from Bar-Be-Quick says, “Outdoor living is super popular in the UK—in recent years, there has been a boom in consumer spending on little outdoor havens for entertaining and living. Whilst we want people to enjoy outdoor dining, it is all of our responsibilities to equip the consumer with the education needed to minimise error.”

Preventing fires from BBQ and campfire use is crucial to ensuring a fun and worry-free experience. Bar-Be-Quick has launched a BBQ and Campfire Safety Code this month to educate people across the UK about the dangers of using instant barbecues and campfires in the countryside or a park, on a beach—and even at home.

The Bar-Be-Quick BBQ and Campfire Safety Code is available to consumers on its packaging, website and social media channels. A PDF copy is also downloadable for its website [insert link] for local authorities to post on websites and community notice boards.  

BBQ and Campfire Safety Code

Choosing the Right Spot for Your BBQ or Campfire

Identifying an appropriate location is vital for the safe enjoyment of BBQs and campfires. Ideally, choose a level area, ensuring it has no potential fire hazards such as dry grass, bushes, or low-hanging branches. Proximity to flammable materials can quickly escalate a controlled fire into a dangerous situation. If your chosen venue has designated BBQ spots, it’s important to utilise these facilities, as they are designed to mitigate risks associated with open fires.

Adhering to any local regulations or signage regarding fire use will also help prevent accidental damage to natural surroundings or incurring penalties.

By selecting an optimal spot, you contribute to the safety and enjoyment of your outdoor cooking experience.

Preparing for Safe BBQ Use and Campfire Management

Before lighting your BBQ or campfire, taking precautionary measures is essential to prevent potential fires. It is recommended that emergency extinguishing methods be used at hand, such as a bucket, bottle of water, or fire extinguisher. When using a disposable BBQ, it is crucial to place it on a stable, non-flammable surface and to follow the provided safety instructions. Avoid using accelerants like lighter fluid, which pose a significant risk of causing uncontrollable flare-ups. Additionally, ensuring your cooking area is free of debris and combustible materials will protect against unexpected fires. These preparatory measures are essential in creating a safe environment for outdoor cooking adventures.

Lighting Your BBQ or Campfire Safely

Approaching the task of lighting your BBQ or campfire with caution is essential. Use extended matches or a specialised BBQ lighter to initiate the flame, ensuring your face and hands are kept at a safe distance to avoid burns. If constructing a campfire, start with smaller kindling and progressively add larger logs as the fire stabilises, building it up slowly. Never leaving the fire unattended once lit is important – vigilance is critical to a safe barbecue or campfire experience. Moreover, maintaining a perimeter that keeps children and pets well away from the heat source is a crucial safety measure.

Monitoring and Controlling the Fire

Vigilance is crucial once your barbecue or campfire is alight. Continuously monitor the flames, being prepared to adjust the air reaching the fire to keep it under control. It’s essential to resist the temptation to overload the campfire with excess fuel, as this can rapidly escalate into a dangerous situation. When the flames become unexpectedly vigorous or show signs of spreading, it’s essential to act swiftly, utilising water or a fire extinguisher to douse them. This proactive approach ensures that the fire remains manageable throughout its use, contributing significantly to a safe and enjoyable outdoor cooking experience. Remember, effective fire control ensures your safety and the surrounding environment, helping to prevent the increased risk of fires during hot weather.

Extinguishing Your BBQ or Campfire Properly

Ensuring that your barbecue or campfire is entirely extinguished is crucial in practising safe BBQ use and preserving the natural environment. Begin by allowing the flames to reduce to a low glow, which indicates that the fire is nearing a state where it can be safely managed. Proceed to gently douse the embers with water, doing this slowly to avoid creating steam or scattering ash. Stirring the ashes thoroughly is essential, exposing any hidden pockets of heat that could reignite. Add water and stir until you are confident that the embers are cool. It’s essential to ascertain that no warmth emanates from the remains, as even the slightest heat can be a catalyst for another fire. Before leaving the site, ensure that all residual materials are disposed of appropriately, according to local guidelines, to mitigate further environmental risk. Most instant barbecues are recyclable and reusable.

Leaving No Trace Behind

Ensuring that the picnic areas remain as clear and tidy as when you arrived is a crucial aspect of responsible outdoor cooking. Any refuse generated from your BBQ or campfire activities, including food remnants, packaging, and disposable BBQs, should be cleared away. Proper disposal of leftover charcoal or ashes is equally important; they must be cooled thoroughly before being safely discarded to prevent any risk of reigniting.

It’s essential to take any rubbish with you until you find disposal facilities, as leaving rubbish behind detracts from the area’s natural beauty and could contribute to environmental damage or pose a fire hazard.

By adopting a conscientious attitude towards cleanup, you safeguard the environment and ensure it remains enjoyable for future visitors.

Practising this BBQ and Campfire Safety Code will ensure outdoor eating can be done safely while minimising our impact on the environment. This will allow us all to enjoy outdoor living without a detrimental footprint.

TAMING THE TIGER: EDUCATORS & MENTAL HEALTH LEADERS JOIN FORCES TO LAUNCH TRAUMA TOOLKIT FOR TEACHERS  

With Mental Health Awareness Week started, senior leaders and mental health experts have joined forces to launch the Trauma Toolkit for Teachers, a comprehensive resource aimed at helping schools support students through trauma-informed teaching strategies.  

With a staggering 500,000 children in the UK currently waiting for mental health support, the need for early intervention and trauma-responsive approaches has never been more critical. 

Erin Docherty, National Mental Health Lead for Oasis, highlights the importance of early intervention and trauma-responsive approaches, quoting Desmond Tutu: “We must move from being trauma-informed to being trauma-responsive. Early intervention is crucial at every level. It’s the difference between securing a life where young people thrive as opposed to watching them just survive. 

Patrick Ottley-O’Connor, Leadership Consultant & Coach, echoes this sentiment “We must encourage, engage & empower all children & young people to see and own their own mental health & wellbeing reality, before finding solutions (with support) and then taking action to improve things for themselves to build positive emotional, social, communication, and thinking skills and behaviours to adapt.” 

The Trauma Toolkit for Teachers aims to address the pressing need for support in schools by providing educators with practical strategies and resources to recognise and respond to trauma effectively. Laura Tristram, drawing from her experience as a teacher and mother, spearheaded the initiative to empower teachers to foster resilience and wellbeing among their students. 

Laura, Mental Health and Wellbeing Lead at Lumii expressed concern over the increasing mental health challenges faced by young people, particularly in the post-pandemic era. “We must move from being trauma-informed to being trauma-responsive,” she said, “Early intervention is crucial at every level; it’s the difference between watching young people just survive or thrive.” 

“Trauma is like being chased by a tiger; our goal is to equip teachers with the tools they need to understand, recognise, and adapt their teaching to support traumatised students effectively,” added Laura. 

With contributions from professionals in the field, The Trauma Toolkit has developed in collaboration with leading experts, including Laura Tristram, Mental Health and Wellbeing Lead at Lumii, Emma Loker, Adolescent Psychotherapeutic Counsellor, and Erin Docherty, National Mental Health Lead for Oasis Community Learning, Cathy Davies, Executive Headteacher, Rachel Jones, Headteacher and Andrew Cowley, Wellbeing educator, speaker and author, offers insights into understanding trauma, recognising its signs, and implementing trauma-informed practices in the classroom. 

The Trauma Toolkit for Teachers addresses the intersection of trauma and learning differences, provides strategies for educators to create safe and supportive learning environments, and emphasises the role of trauma-informed teaching in enhancing academic success and emotional wellbeing. 

The Trauma Toolkit for Teachers is a collaborative effort aimed at equipping educators with the knowledge and resources to support students’ mental health and wellbeing effectively. 

For further information or to download the Trauma Toolkit for Teachers, please visit: 

bit.ly/LumiiToolkitSignUp

#Education #Wellbeing #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek 

Herefordshire and Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust implements Alcidion’s Miya Precision platform to enhance bed management and patient flow

Malvern Hospital

Herefordshire and Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust has successfully implemented Alcidion’s Miya Precision platform to streamline bed management workflow across seven community hospitals in Worcestershire. The trust delivers community nursing and therapy services within the county, as well as being the main provider of mental health and learning disability services across Herefordshire and Worcestershire.

The trust recognised the need to transform bed management processes within its community hospitals by implementing an electronic patient flow solution to reduce the volume of manual administration tasks, such as phone calls and emails. The implementation of Alcidion’s patient flow solution gives the organisation a real-time view of bed capacity, pending discharges, and discharge activity tracking to coordinate and support a safe and effective discharge process.   

The trust is pursuing a staged approach to this transformation, starting with the implementation of Miya Precision, which will provide a trust-wide orchestration layer, seamlessly integrating clinical and patient data with its existing PAS system via the FHIR standard.

With this platform in place, phase one focussed on delivering the foundation for a new bed management workflow across community hospital wards. The platform module, Miya Flow, facilitates real-time monitoring of patient movement via electronic journey boards, empowering the trust’s staff to proactively identify bottlenecks.  Miya Access was also implemented and takes advantage of clinical data to optimise bed allocation decisions, further enhancing the patient journey.

Kath Stanbra, associate director of County Wide Community Services said: “The implementation of Alcidion’s bed management solution has been positively received by staff working on the wards. A benefit of note has been the real time visibility and enhanced operational oversight of the patients journey from admission to planning a safe and effective discharge.

“The support provided by Alcidion throughout the roll-out has been exceptional. The company’s project manager and team worked in partnership with us to tailor a solution and system processes; resulting in the seamless implementation of our new patient-flow system.”

Phase two, in the planning stage, will optimise and expand on the current functionality to include Miya Command and Alcidion’s Patientrack electronic observation and early warning system (e-Obs). The trust’s vision is to provide a seamless transition for nurses to navigate between Miya Flow and NEWS2 observation capture via Patientrack.

Building off the previously implemented modules, Miya Command displays the expected demand in the context of available resources. This graphical real-time visualisation will immediately highlight potential constraints.

Alcidion managing director Kate Quirke commented, “The transition from manual administration tasks to Alcidion’s Miya Precision has empowered staff with trust-wide visibility into capacity, facilitating proactive bottleneck identification and efficient patient flow management. We are delighted to witness the positive impact of Precision on enhancing patient care delivery at Herefordshire and Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust.”