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July 2021
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YouGov Survey reveals shift in driver demand towards public EV charging

CTEK Back to Back 4 socket charging

With ownership of electric vehicles (EVs) continuing to grow, a YouGov survey conducted on behalf of vehicle charging specialists CTEK has revealed that more drivers are now looking to charge their EVs in public, rather than at home.1

The survey reveals that, while 68% of EV drivers still prefer to charge their vehicles at home, more than a third (37%) of EV drivers are now using public chargers, 12% are charging at work and 9% at petrol stations.

Cecilia Routledge, CTEK’s Global Head of E-Mobility, said: “With previous estimates of up to 90% of EV charging taking place at home, this is a fairly significant shift, and we can expect the need for public charging to intensify as coronavirus restrictions in the UK continue to be lifted. Not only that, permanent changes to working patterns and more home working are likely to result in people visiting their workplace less often, so EV owners with nowhere to install a home charger will increasingly need to rely on public chargers and those at destinations like shopping centres and supermarkets.”

The low use of petrol station charging also indicates that drivers prefer to combine charging with a longer stop, perhaps to do a bit of shopping, have a coffee or a bite to eat. But the survey reveals that availability and reliability of chargers, or not knowing the location of them, remains a concern for existing EV drivers (30%) and those considering an EV (39%). Charger reliability was also one of the two main concerns raised by local authority representatives attending the Everything EV Summit in April, with the other key concern raised by local authorities being the availability of power from the grid.

CTEK has the following advice and guidance for local authorities looking to install or expand public EV charging networks.

  • AC/DC. CTEK’s research reveals that the typical charge at a public chargepoint is around 10 kWh, and that vehicles are plugged in for approximately 3 hours, with drivers generally topping up their battery rather than charging from empty. CTEK therefore recommends that, in public parking spots where drivers are likely to stop for longer and are in less of a rush, AC (alternating current) chargers that deliver slow to medium charge are generally more than adequate, and that rapid charge DC (direct current) chargers, that are expensive to install and draw a lot of power from the grid, are rarely needed. In Sweden’s second biggest city Gothenburg for example, CTEK has installed a network of 1,500 AC chargers (800 x 22 kW chargers and 700 x 3.7 kW chargers), both on and off street, but there are only 20 public DC chargers in the whole of the city.
  • Power balance. If availability of power is a concern, dynamic load balancing on EV networks reduces the need for grid expansion and connection costs by optimising and distributing available power between buildings and across all operational chargers. This ensures vehicles are all charged as quickly as possible, while preventing overload on the grid and maintaining power to buildings and anything else drawing power from it (e.g. street lights, traffic lights). Without load balancing, increased demand from EV chargers could cause main fuses to blow or trip, due to the demand for power being more than what’s available.
  • Reliability. Robust chargepoints with high quality components will result in less downtime, less need for ongoing maintenance and replacement, and less frustration for drivers. For outside units, a durable external casing is recommended to deter vandalism and protect from the weather. CTEK’s ‘Chargestorm Connected 2’ chargers are built using robust, top quality components and materials for maximum reliability and reduced maintenance, with a durable IK10 rated metal casing that’s built to withstand a Swedish Winter!
  • Doubling up. For local authorities looking for a cost-effective way to install or expand their charging networks, CTEK offers a dual socket ‘Chargestorm Connected 2’ charger, where two vehicles can plug in and charge at the same time. This can halve the number of physical units that need to be installed, and at considerably reduced cost. These chargers can be either wall or pole mounted, and CTEK also offers a 4 socket ‘back to back’ solution, where two dual socket chargers can be sited on a single pole.

This innovative, space saving charging solution is ideal for small parking areas, particularly in double row ‘bay’ parking situations, where vehicle are parked ‘front to front’. For larger installations, like major public car parks, the sets of four chargers can be linked together in networks of up to 500 individual chargers on 125 poles.

  • Fit for the future. Make sure your charging network allows for easy expansion as demand inevitably grows, and that it is OCPP (Open Charge Point Protocol) compliant, allowing seamless integration with other manufacturer’s equipment, including pay points.
  • Why smart charging pays. The Government has consulted on proposals that all new UK EV chargers must have smart charging included, which would allow drivers to plug in and set their vehicles to charge during off-peak periods when energy demand is low. But there are other advantages too – smart charging also gives drivers the flexibility to select a specific charging profile to suit their needs, for example the speed of charge and for how long that charge is delivered. And paypoint equipment, which can be seamlessly integrated with CTEK’s chargers, can apply differential prices for different charging profiles, for example fast/slow charging or priority charging. Vehicle owners currently identify themselves with a tag or mobile app but, in future (with the introduction of IS0 15118 standards for EVs), vehicles will be able to identify themselves just by plugging in to the charger!
  • Government In line with the Government’s stated vision to have one of the best electric vehicle infrastructure networks in the world2, their 10 point plan for a green industrial revolution published in November 2020 has committed £1.3 billion to accelerate infrastructure roll out. As part of this £20m of funding has been committed to On-Street Residential Grant Scheme for 2021/22, to encourage local authorities to install on-street charging points.

Cecilia Routledge, CTEK’s Global Head of E-Mobility

The scheme gives local authorities access to grant funding of up to 75% of the capital cost of procuring and installing on-street EV chargepoint infrastructure to meet residential needs.  The scheme is primarily focused on the installation of chargepoints in on-street locations; however, OZEV recognises the potential pressures that may be faced by local authorities when allocating parking spaces for EVs on residential streets. Therefore, applications for chargepoints situated in car parks owned by the local authority will be considered provided they meet the objectives of the scheme – meaning that the car park is suitably located in or near a residential area, and provides an option for local residents looking to charge their car both during the day and overnight.

“The future of sustainable transport lies with rechargeable vehicles, and local authorities have a key role to play in that,” said Cecilia. “The development of robust public charging networks will not only support existing EV drivers, but will also encourage further EV adoption and a greener, cleaner future for us all, as we head along the road to zero.”

About CTEK

Established in Sweden, CTEK is the leading global brand in vehicle charging solutions. CTEK takes pride in its unique culture, based on a passion for innovation and a deep commitment to supporting the transition to a greener mobility, by adhering to industry leading ESG standards.

In Sweden, CTEK has installed more than 12,000 public EV chargers, working with many public companies including Stockholm Parking, who are targeting 4,000 public chargers in the city by 2022.

CTEK’s E-mobility solutions range from individual EV chargers to larger corporate and commercial installations with multiple charging stations, that require load balancing and integrate seamlessly with monitoring and payment equipment.

For more information, visit

Telehealth and remote health monitoring: The way forward

With a passion to make Healthcare more convenient, effective, and accessible to all Fungai Ndemera set off to deliver this vision by Founding CheckUp Health. CheckUp Health is a brand-new Digital Healthcare provider offering private GP video and audio appointments to all UK residents from anywhere in the World – along with an array of rapidly growing services.

Founded in the heart of the country. CheckUp Health has already experienced an accelerated growth due to being successfully awarded a prize from Innovate UK to help fund a pilot study on remote monitoring and advising of Blood Pressure and/or Blood sugars in patients of the BAME nationalities, as it had been noted they were having worse outcomes in the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic has rapidly accelerated the growth and development of digitising healthcare. Both Doctors and patients have relearnt what can be dealt with appropriately by video or audio consultation and what still needs to be assessed in person.

Remote consultations are now more accepted, desired, and higher quality than ever before and with the emergence of many home health tech solutions this will only continue in this direction.

CheckUp Health’s highly experienced medical team will offer you advice on the best way to approach your problem, whether it be privately or through the NHS. Offering 20-minute appointments the medical team has the time to listen to your thoughts and concerns without you feeling rushed.

The full range of services include:

Blood tests and other basic investigations: The ability to book private blood tests at over 150 private clinics in the UK.

20 Minute appointments: Have time to get your concerns across and not feel rushed.

Prescriptions: Sent to a pharmacy of your choice or delivered to your house.

Sick notes: Available immediately after consultation for download in your app- where appropriate.

Daily Appointments: Book a video or audio private GP appointment at a time that is convenient for you 7 days a week – daytime or evening!

Referrals: Referral (s) to see a specialist (s) can be created during your consultation which you can download on your mobile device.

Access Personal Health Record: All your health records are kept safe, secure and accessible to you at any time.

Book an appointment when on holiday: Access a UK doctor whilst travelling for peace of mind for you and your family.

Appointments for Children: No more sitting in waiting rooms, put your child at ease by consulting from your own home at a time convenient for you!

Health Monitoring app: Conveniently record all your blood pressure, blood sugar, pulse, temperature readings in one place. Get interactive automatic messages if your readings are out of range and personalised recommendations when you book an appointment and share your results with one of the doctors.

To learn more about CheckUp Health’s team visit Meet the Team

Government welcomes post-pandemic employment initiative

Employability Voices ASK SETH

Support for jobseekers has been taken to a new level with the launch of the first online platform that connects them directly with local support to help them find work.

Called ASK SETH, which stands for Skills, Employment, Training and Help, it is the only free, single source, digital platform for jobseekers which does not require sign up or membership.

Developed by wellness tech company Frog Systems, it was commissioned by the Employment Related Services Association (ERSA), the industry body representing employment support and training organisations across the UK, in response to the employability challenges thrown up by the coronavirus pandemic and the dramatic shift to consuming information online.

Minister for Employment Mims Davies MP welcomed the move: “Making it easier for jobseekers to find local employment support is vital as we support people to find work in our re-opened jobs market. This website, with help and advice, will do just this and help people move into roles.

“This dovetails with our own Plan for Jobs and is exactly the sort of support our Work Coaches are providing across our network of Jobcentres – levelling up opportunity across the country as we support workers of all ages to retrain, build new skills, and get back into work.”

With easy access to key facts, information, resources and contact details, the fast, free site incorporates three elements. An Employment Support Directory of specialist organisations and employability providers offering fully-funded support for jobseekers. Employability Voices provides a multitude of top tips from businesses and charities on retraining and finding work, with employability, skills and training experts providing bite-sized video content across a diverse range of subjects. While Employability Resources fine tunes job searching questions and gives specific help for those with additional needs.

Phil Worms, CEO of Frog Systems, said: “We have worked in partnership with ERSA to develop a platform that connects jobseekers with local employment support and helps frontline advisors, Jobcentre Plus work coaches and employers to understand who is working with jobseekers in their area. This positions ASK SETH as a new and valuable resource for people who are looking for work and those trying to help them.”

With video now making up more than 80% of online consumer traffic, it is a key feature of the platforms that Frog Systems creates. Short, easily consumable video clips from employment, skills and training experts are therefore at the heart of ASK SETH. Resources and support are also signposted for all types of jobseeker – older people who may never have been out of work before, homeless people, ex-offenders, those experiencing mental health issues, people with physical disabilities, migrant jobseekers, carers and those looking for their first job.

Phil Worms, CEO, Frog Systems

The anonymised data generated by jobseekers using the platform will give ERSA valuable insight into emerging employment and training trends and provide an additional source of data for Government departments such as the Department for Work and Pensions, the Department for Education and the Ministry of Justice.

Elizabeth Taylor, CEO of ERSA says: “The unique selling point of ASK SETH is that it is the UK’s only ‘go-to’ destination to access all you’d need to know for finding employment. Its functions are simple to manage for those less used to accessing this kind of information, and the videos enable jobseekers to gather the information and advice they need to make a successful step into employment. It is especially targeted to those who have little or no experience of unemployment with easy links and clear guidance on what many employability organisations offer. We are immensely proud of the format and see it as a game changer for unemployed people in these challenging times.”

The technology developed by Frog Systems is also used by organisations to provide mental health and wellbeing support.

With one in five people estimated to struggle with their mental health at some point, the company is helping leading organisations deliver powerful proactive messaging to support their communities. Already this year the company has launched platforms for leading organisations in the higher education, housing, construction and sports sectors.

Find out more by visiting Get in touch via email or call 0300 124 6868.

It’s going to be quite a handover…

Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock has been abruptly replaced by Sajid Javid. The Highland Marketing advisory board consider the huge agenda he is now facing, and what it could – and should – mean for health tech.

Matt Hancock’s downfall as health and social care secretary was swift. Last week, barely 12-hours after he had delivered the keynote speech to the NHS Confederation’s annual conference, The Sun newspaper published a CCTV grab of him enjoying a “steamy clinch” with an aide.

Sajid Javid

On Saturday, despite the palpable reluctance of prime minister Boris Johnson to sack him, he was forced to resign (BBC News) as the police started an investigation into whether he had broken the law when he breached his own measures to control the spread of Covid-19.

By the end of the day, Sajid Javid a former investment banker with Cabinet experience as culture, business, and home secretary and, briefly, chancellor, had been announced as Hancock’s successor (Sky News).

A huge agenda

Confed underlined the huge agenda that is facing health and care over the next five-years, and which is now sitting in Javid’s in-tray. Immediately, the NHS needs a new chief executive to replace Sir Simon Stevens, who is leaving after seven years.

It needs to see the detail of the legislation that will tear up the Lansley reforms of 2012, deliver significant new powers to the Department of Health and Social Care, merge NHS England and NHS Improvement, and create integrated care systems and integrated care providers.

At the frontline, it needs to get through the remainder of the Covid-19 vaccination programme, to navigate another wave of the disease plus flu this winter, to get stuck into a waiting list recovery programme, and to prepare for that shift to integrated care and population health-management.

Meanwhile, social care desperately needs the long-term fix promised by prime minister Boris Johnson as he took office. And both health and social care need to be able to offer something to an exhausted workforce upset at being offered a real-terms pay cut.

Imaging expert Rizwan Malik argued that “workforce planning has got to be central to Javid’s strategy for the NHS” because “we won’t be able to address the waiting list crisis or anything else if we don’t address chronic staff shortages.”

As part of that, he added, the new health and care secretary should stop the attacks on “foreign” staff triggered by would-be NHS England chief executive Dido Harding (The Times), and reign in criticism of general practice, which is struggling to find a balance between face to face and remote working post-pandemic.

Jeremy Nettle, the chair of Highland Marketing’s advisory board, pointed out on Monday morning: “Simon Stevens is leaving in 30 days; it’s going to be quite a handover.”

Start by heading off the looming leadership crisis

Andy Kinnear, a consultant with 30-years of experience in the NHS, felt Javid should start by addressing the imminent leadership crisis that will be caused by Sir Simon’s departure. “This is a leadership challenge,” he said.

“Simon Stevens has done a pretty stellar job in the face of some tough austerity measures, and over the past 18-months we have seen some great leadership from figures like Jonathan Van-Tam [the deputy chief medical officer] and Chris Whitty [his boss]. What they all have in common is a deep commitment to and understanding of the NHS, and we need more of the same.”

A number of political commentators have pointed out that Hancock’s departure could be bad news for Harding, the former Talk Talk executive and Test and Trace leader who has been publicly lobbying for his job – to the disgust of many managers (Health Service Journal) and medical professionals.

But if Javid is going to look beyond Harding and the limited list of other names in the frame, he will need time. Entrepreneur Ravi Kumar suggested Sir Simon might be asked to stay on, or an interim leader asked to step in for six months or a year.

Nicola Haywood-Alexander, group CIO at NHS Lincolnshire, added that transparency in the recruitment process was hugely important. “We need a leader with integrity, who understands what it is like to work at the frontline,” she said.

“People need to have trust in whoever is leading the NHS, and in the appointment process itself, because inevitably questions will be asked and candidates scrutinised. When I am with our health and care staff, you can see and hear who has their fellowship.”

Then stall the legislation?

If he wants to get on top of his in-tray, and then make his own mark on health and care, Javid may also need to stall the legislation required to implement the Integration and Innovation white paper. This will have to come forward soon, if ICSs are going to start work on a statutory basis next April.

But some political correspondents have been reporting that Number 10 is worried about the timing, the size of the changes proposed, and the plans to hand much more control over to ministers (The Independent). If the legislation is delayed, however, it will raise the question of what Javid wants to do with his new brief.

As a young minister, he had close links with think-tanks such as the Institute for Economic Affairs, which is associated with calls for a smaller social safety net, smaller state and more private involvement in healthcare, and in his brief stint as chancellor he continued his predecessors’ policies of austerity and public service cuts (The Independent).

Haywood-Alexander mused: “Javid has a good economic background. He’s got Cabinet and finance experience. But health is a tough gig, with huge demand, backlog, and costs, and the well-being of our staff and the ongoing lack of workforce across health and care need tackling.

“Also, where does he stand on privatisation? Or, more importantly, on priority of esteem between physical and mental health? Or social care? Or health inequalities? I’m not so worried about his capacity to do the job of a minister, but I do wonder what direction he will take, and how he will prioritise and tackle investment in these challenges.”

Refresh the digital agenda     

Hancock tried to put his mark on health and care by focusing on technology and imaging expert Malik argued that his successor needed to do the same. “Don’t just do the typical political thing of reversing stuff your predecessor did, because you didn’t start it,” he advised.

However, many members of the health tech community would argue that Hancock didn’t always focus on the right things. Many hospitals still lack electronic patient records, ICSs have only just been told to get a ‘basic’ shared care record in place, and the NHS and Covid-19 apps have struggled.

In addition, NHSX, the agency that Hancock set-up with considerable fanfare, has failed to find a clear role alongside the policy making activity of the DHSC or NHS England or the delivery functions of NHS Digital, while many NHS digital leaders feel it has distorted local priorities by focusing on headline grabbing initiatives.

Cindy Fedell, an ex-NHS CIO now working in Ontario, argued it is doubtful that X will survive Hancock’s departure. James Norman, former NHS CIO and now healthcare CIO, EMEA, at Dell, agreed. “NHSX was already being consumed by the new transformation directorate at NHS England, and I think this is likely to signal its end in any form.”

Like Malik, Norman argued the challenge for Javid will be to “make sure he does not throw the baby out with the bathwater” but to “make sure the best of NHSX continues” because “the drive to accelerate change with technology was right, it was just the approach of setting up yet another arms length body to deliver it that was flawed.”

By “the best” of NHSX, Norman added that he meant its ability to focus attention on important areas such as interoperability, standards and the use of data. Kinnear agreed there is a “huge opportunity” in open architecture and open systems and in Hancock’s relatively new commitment to “separate data from the applications that use it” (

This is one area in which Javid’s background might be reassuring. Banks invest large sums in IT and the arrival of open banking standards has driven innovation in fin tech. Nettle argued banks also understand “self-service”; or getting users to do some of the work of checking records, carrying out transactions, and booking services themselves.

“It’s not for everybody, and we know we have to keep digital inequalities in mind, but we need a digital front-door for the NHS, and as a banker Javid should understand that,” he said.

Time is ticking  

Unfortunately, the NHS digital and data agenda isn’t in a great place with the public at the moment, as a result of Palantir’s involvement in the NHS Covid-19 Data Store (OpenDemocracy), NHS Digital’s decision to try and scrape the entire GP record without consultation, and the publication of a data strategy light on privacy safeguards or limitations on future use.

The advisory board argued that Javid would be advised to quietly extend the consultation period on the data strategy, and to put off the planned publication of the new NHS digital strategy, ‘what good looks like’ and ‘who pays for what’. Or, if he wanted to be really radical, to scrap them and give chief information officers the status and space “to get on and do our jobs,” as Fedell put it.

He may also need to explain or resign from his role as a well-paid adviser to (Daily Mail), a Palantir competitor. Most of all, though, Javid needs to buy himself time and prioritise that huge agenda; or he’s likely to find himself consumed by it.

Kumar noted that he has already made one rushed decision by promising to lift all the remaining Covid-19 restrictions in England on 11 July. His pledge to make “freedom-day” “irreversible” will please the anti-lockdown tabloids (Daily Mail); but could come back to haunt the NHS in a bad winter.

Fedell suggested seasoned health and care pros would be on the lookout for other, eye-catching initiatives. “Hancock came in saying he’d run the NHS with an app. We’ll know pretty soon whether that’s Javid’s style. If he takes his time, we’ll know he’s in for the long-haul.”

Summary of key points:

Sitting on top of the NHS in-tray: Deal with the ‘exit wave’ of Covid-19; prepare for a challenging winter; start to address the elective care backlog; prepare for the implementation of the Integration and Innovation reforms.

Additional service priorities: deliver an equitable recovery; ensure parity of esteem between physical and mental health; tackle the deep-seated health inequalities exposed by the pandemic.

Must-dos for the new health and social care secretary: Ensure a transparent process to replace Sir Simon Stevens as chief executive at NHS England; reboot the legislation required to implement Innovation and Integration; bring forward a social care green paper that delivers on prime minister Boris Johnson’s promise to “fix social care once and for all”; head off an NHS pay row and address long-term workforce challenges; go in to bat for his new department in this autumn’s comprehensive spending review.

Some friendly advice, in the form of six health tech dos and don’ts:

Do maintain investment in healthcare technology and don’t “do the political thing of reversing the stuff your predecessor did, just because you didn’t start it” (Rizwan Malik).

Do consider whether it is worth retaining NHSX within NHS England’s transformation directorate but don’t junk the best of what it has achieved – the renewed focus on interoperability, standards, and the use of data (James Norman).

Do push ahead with the NHS data strategy commitment to “separate data from the applications that use it” (Andy Kinnear) but don’t get distracted by every “shiny new app” that wants to use the data (Cindy Fedell).

Don’t forget there is unfinished business in infrastructure, cyber security, single sign-on, shared care records, and modernising GP systems, and do push for investment in social care and addressing the digital divide (Nicola Haywood-Alexander).

Do make sure that procurements are transparent (Ravi Kumar) and don’t forget that public trust is vital – or that it’s just been badly dented by the General Practice Data for Research and Planning extract proposals.

Do think back to your days as a banker; and bring some of banking’s culture of investing in IT, open systems, self-service and innovation to the NHS (Jeremy Nettle).


Highland Marketing’s advisory board is: Jeremy Nettle, former global advisor for Health Sciences, Oracle Corporation; Cindy Fedell, former chief digital and information officer at Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; Andy Kinnear, former director of digital transformation at NHS South, Central and West Commissioning Support Unit; James Norman, healthcare CIO, EMEA, at Dell Technologies; Ravi Kumar, health tech entrepreneur and chair of ZANEC, and Rizwan Malik, divisional medical director of Bolton NHS Foundation Trust and managing director of South Manchester Radiology.


The public sector post pandemic: how the mobile workforce has evolved

By Charles Knight, Managing Director of Public Services at Totalmobile

More than a year since the UK’s first national lockdown and there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel, with a somewhat clearer roadmap out of lockdown. Understandably, throughout this collective experience, a lot of attention has been focused on the workers who were used to being in the hustle and bustle of an office environment, suddenly now working from home, a little isolated, and more often than not, juggling home schooling as well as navigating their new working landscape.

However, at the same time, not every worker has been able to shift gears and work from home. As well as the many professionals who have not been able to work at all, there are tens of thousands of mobile workers whose roles require them to travel between locations every day, and the impact of the pandemic on their workplace is still developing.

Businesses across the world are making permanent changes to the way they conduct business post-pandemic and, according to recent media speculation, the public sector is no different. A recent article by The Times suggests that the government is already proposing the possibility of making work from home “a permanent feature of British life after coronavirus, with plans to strengthen employees’ rights to work from home or ask for different hours”. Potentially affecting over five million public sector employees, everyone will be watching what happens next with interest.

But, as workplace change continues to sweep across the economy, what about industries that support local authorities, like facilities and property management or utilities, where mobile workforces make up a significant portion of staff? How has their way of working evolved? Even during the worst of the pandemic these organisations couldn’t simply tell employees to work from home. They needed to find solutions that kept both staff and customers safe at the same time as finding cost effective ways to complete jobs in an efficient and productive manner, while remaining compliant with regulation and SLAs.

In a bid to remain agile and efficient whilst safeguarding the wellbeing of their employees, public sector organisations with mobile workforces have, as a result, been increasing their reliance on technology; not only through hard and unprecedented times, but in better times too. Post-pandemic, we can expect these working practices to evolve across a number of key areas.

 A juggling act with high stakes 

 There is pressure on organisations everywhere – reduced budgets, leaner teams and all with the expectation of becoming more efficient. As a result, there has been considerable emphasis on streamlining areas such as reporting and analytics. One example of this is operations managers looking after vehicles spread within local authority regions or further afield need to be able to send workers to specific locations at precise times. As a manual task, managing dozens or even hundreds of remote workers is not only inefficient, but prone to errors and often more expensive.

Live scheduling technologies are increasingly one of the most popular solutions that organisations are turning to in order to address this challenge. One of the most valuable elements of today’s scheduling technologies is the ability to reallocate jobs in real time. If, for instance, it’s more efficient for one employee to visit a certain site over another, tasks can be updated as more information becomes available. As a result, operations managers can use automated updates to improve efficiencies, more accurately track vehicle movement and enable staff to make better decisions. This helps organisations to save time and allow field staff to be more productive.

Employee wellbeing has been a common topic in the media throughout the various lockdowns we’ve experienced over the last year. For public sector employers, duty of care to protect the safety of all staff and citizens alike is, and has always been, a key area for continued attention. For mobile workers, communication and the ability to monitor the location and wellbeing of employees is a ‘must have’ if staff are to be fully protected while carrying out their roles.

In practical terms, lone worker solutions, video diagnostic technologies and staff wellbeing trackers provide employers with real-time visibility of the current status of staff, while access to historical information can be evidenced at a later date should the need arise. Not only does this help organisations become more responsible employers, it also improves the safety and wellbeing of staff, while helping workers focus on their compliance obligations.

Lockdown has meant many people have become used to changing the way they access public services, and with today’s technology making it possible to balance efficiency with workplace wellbeing, while also focusing on delivering better services, both local and national public sector organisations must continue to innovate over the long term. Even with the pandemic creating its own unprecedented challenges and the current pressure on resources, local authorities are still expected to transform their customer experience. Members of the public will continue to expect the same level of high-quality service and flexibility when interacting with public sector bodies even when the public health crisis is no longer restricting how services can be delivered.

Notwithstanding the array of unprecedented challenges public sector bodies have faced this past year, they and their teams’ ability to navigate, adapt, and focus has been nothing short of spectacular. In a time of crisis, the ability of those organisations that are able to digitally transform to remain focused on the efficiency, effectiveness, and wellbeing of their mobile workforce, are the ones succeeding, and they will be well positioned to continue to see benefits in the years to come.

How Public Sector Database Teams Can Become ‘Data Centric’

By Sascha Giese, Head Geek at SolarWinds

Public sector organisations across the country are looking closely at the way they can improve services and performance by optimising their use of data. Indeed, many are focusing on it as a key asset and a driving force behind their wider technology strategy to build a ‘data-centric’ approach.

What The Research Tells Us

Database professionals play a vital role in this process, and their role as data custodians—often for private and sensitive information—is pivotal if organisations are to maximise the value of data and turn more of it into useful insight. For instance, research has shown 41% of database professionals consider half or more of their databases to be a critical success factor for their organisation—an important perspective that illustrates the reliance organisations place on data.

Data is also on the move, and workloads are expected to shift rapidly to the cloud, with Cloud Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS) viewed as one of the top three highest priority database platforms to adopt in the next three years. What’s more, nearly two-fifths (38%) of tech pros anticipate bigger budget allocations in 2021 (compared to 2020) to help manage the increased complexity surrounding databases.

This complexity is also characterised by the sheer volume of data collected and held across every organisation, and while much of this is vital, the databases used across the public sector are also populated by information which is redundant, outdated and trivial (ROT). Yet, collecting and keeping the right data is crucial if organisations are to maximise efficiency and use the valuable information they hold to make informed decisions.

The Path to ‘Data Centricity’

So, how can those responsible for building, running, and maintaining databases balance these opportunities and challenges to focus on becoming data centric? A key question to answer is what each dataset is going to be used for. There are a huge variety of requirements, from preparing a slide deck or a dashboard in their monitoring environment to collecting metrics to show the dev manager how often their team is logging in to the system to perform key tasks. But by understanding these needs, database professionals can collect data in the way that makes the most sense.

In addition, the information derived from data should help uncover facts, not confirm biases. For example, if the objective is to determine if server reboots are being caused by patches being applied too often, instead of asking “How often are patches applied?” focus on “How many patches need a reboot?” By comparing this number to the total number of server reboots, it becomes much easier to conclude how often these reboots are affected by patching. The data gained over a longer time frame can also verify the reliability of the vendor information on whether rebooting is required.

With data being easy to come by, it can be difficult to focus on collecting only the worthwhile details. But by becoming more data centric and more data driven themselves, IT teams can reduce the amount of ROT in their environment and prevent data hoarding. In turn, they can help create more efficient, technology-led processes that can help public sector organisations deliver more effective services and maximise value for money.

Rising to the ash dieback challenge

The ash is one of the most common trees in the UK and is a much loved part of the landscape. Now, though, it is under serious and sustained threat from ash dieback.

Which means, over the coming years, another common sight will be an ash tree accompanied by a bright red mobile elevating working platform (MEWP), the Hinowa spider platform.

The Hinowa ‘spider’ is the access platform of choice for most tree surgeons. Distributed in the UK by Access Platform Sales, they are increasingly vital tools for responding to ash dieback by inspecting, reducing or felling trees that have succumbed to the disease.

Over time, ash dieback leaves trees brittle and unstable which means rope climbing – the traditional method used by trees surgeons to get up close and personal with trees – becomes too dangerous.

Ash dieback, also known as chalara, is by far the biggest challenge to the UK’s treescape over the next two decades. The Woodland Trust estimates it will wipe out over 80% of the UK’s 126m ash trees.

That means the crisis will also be a key driver in a trend away rope climbing towards the safer and, in many cases, more productive method of working from platforms.

Working on trees – the rise of the spider

The seed that has seen the rise of the spider platform in the tree management industry was sown with the publication, 16 years ago, of the Working at Height Regulations 2005.

They enshrined in law a duty to carry out an assessment of the risks associated with working at height and to always select the safest practical options available.

That placed the benefits of working from a platform to the fore. Since then, there has been a steady move towards the adoption by tree surgeons of MEWPs, and spider platforms in particular.

In fact, from the word go, Hinowa has designed its spider platforms with the needs of the tree management industry front and centre.

The platforms have tracks for moving across rough and low loadbearing ground. In transport (tracking) mode they are ultra-narrow to move through confined spaces. Their outriggers are then deployed to create a firm and safe working platform. Key, also, is the platform’s exceptional outreach.

Arborist James Plaskett, owner of Access 2 Trees in Shropshire, shares the views of many tree surgeons, saying: “Hinowa spider platforms are perfect for tree work, and have replaced rope climbing in most cases.”

The Arboricultural Association has supported the move to working from MEWPs. Its code of practice has a risk hierarchy that places working from platforms firmly above rope work as the most desirable option.

However, Simon Richmond, the association’s technical officer, admits the industry has some way to go to fully adopt working from MEWPs.

He says: “I would say we’re not very much over halfway. A lot of tree surgeons want to stick to rope work because it’s what they know. But when forward-thinking ones invest in platforms, they invariably see the benefits and don’t want to go back.”

Those benefits include winning new business from agencies, like the National Trust and English Heritage, which have firm policies that require working from platforms in all but exceptional circumstances.

Working from Hinowa spider platforms can also sharply increase productivity. They also improve quality. This aids long-term tree health, as crowns can be trimmed more precisely from a platform.

Tightening control – two-rope working

Tree surgeons are also likely to look to platforms more thanks to the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) insistence on the introduction of two-rope working.

When the 2005 regulations came in, tree surgeons were allowed to keep single rope anchor points, the industry standard at the time. From 2020, the HSE has required two. It had lost patience, it explained, with regular serious injuries and deaths from falls.

It is a sign, say industry experts, that the days of widespread rope climbing for tree management are numbered. It will increasingly become a niche practice, used in exceptional circumstances.

Spider platforms and ash dieback

Ash dieback will have an increasingly important influence on the take-up of access platforms for tree work. The effect of the disease on trees is still the subject of scientific study.

However, it is acknowledged that as ash dieback takes hold, it makes branches increasingly brittle. As a result, many tree surgeons have decided climbing trees that have the disease is off limits.

Either they must be reduced from MEWPs, like Hinowa spiders, or remotely, using equipment like tree sheers or grapple saws. Given the wider use of spider platforms, they are the most common alternative.

In March 2020, Thompson Tree Services used its Hinowa Lightlift 20.10 to remove trees infected with ash dieback along a main road near Matlock in Derbyshire.

Managing Director Jack Thompson said: “The trees were a danger to road users and pedestrians. Working from our Hinowa was the only sensible way to work on them. They were just too dangerous to climb.”

In some cases, it is not ash dieback that represents the primary threat, but secondary infections as the tree weakens, for example Armillaria, a fungus that rots tree roots. These trees will be particularly dangerous to climb. In some cases, they collapse even as they are being felled.

Access platforms also have a role to play in surveying woodland and monitoring the spread of the disease as part of a sustainable approach to countering its impact [See separate box].

Ash dieback is a tragedy in terms of the impact on the British landscape. Ironically, though, it is accelerating the trend towards using MEWPs, most commonly spider platforms, to work on trees, so is spreading safer practice as well.

Simon Richmond says: “Using MEWPs denotes a higher level of professionalism. It’s why more clients are stipulating they should be used when working at height. The development of ash dieback will only reinforce that trend.”

Ash dieback fact file

Scientific name                         Hymenoscyphus fraxineus

Pathogen                                   Fungus

Origin                                        Asia

First identified in UK                    2012

Number of ash trees in Britain        126 million

Proportion of all broadleaf trees     11%

Most common                             South West (12.6%) and East Midlands (12.7%)

Proportion expected to die             80%

Estimated economic cost               £15 billion

APS spider platform guide

Don’t add a ‘crime’ to a disaster

If you find trees infected with ash dieback on your land, don’t fell them straight away, urges Arboricultural Association Technical Officer Simon Richmond.

“Property owners who find ash dieback often fell the infected trees and others in the same stand. In my view, this adds a crime to a natural disaster, because it appears around 15% of trees are either resistant to the disease or can recover from it,” he says.

Instead, property owner should monitor the development of the disease, using a four-stage model advocated by the association, and only fell those that it is clear will succumb.

He explains: “Younger trees are more susceptible to ash dieback. That means, if we can save the older, more resistant ones we have a stock from which we can start to rebuild our ash populations.”

Hinowa spider platform – quick guide

  1. Working height – 13m to 33m
  2. Articulating boom – For reaching over obstacles
  3. Compact body – To get through narrow gaps
  4. Outriggers – Self-levelling for speed and safety
  5. Rotating basket – For precise positioning
  6. Tracks – To travel over rough terrain
  7. Power pack – All-electric, diesel, petrol, or bi-energy
  8. Safety features – Include tilt alarms and auto return to ground

About the author: Steve Couling is Managing Director of Access Platform Sales, the UK and Ireland distributor of Hinowa spider platforms.

CICV Forum welcomes new Construction Leadership Forum Chair and pledges to continue on path of collaboration and co-operation

CICV Forum – Ivan McKee

The Construction Industry Coronavirus (CICV) Forum has pledged its ongoing commitment to the Scottish Construction Leadership Forum (CLF) and has warmly welcomed its new Chair, Scottish Government Minister Ivan McKee.

The unique collaboration of trade associations, professional bodies, companies and individuals is now a key contributor to the CLF, having realigned its infrastructure to be consistent with the mission of its fellow sector body.

At its full meeting yesterday (June 17), the CICV Forum said that it is looking forward to working closely with Mr McKee, the new Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise, who takes over the Chair from Kevin Stewart, who is now Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care.

Alan Wilson, CICV Forum Chair and Managing Director of SELECT, said: “We are keen to continue the constructive and positive dialogue which we have enjoyed so far with the CLF, and to build on the strong foundations we have established.”

As an illustration of the CICV Forum’s commitment to continuing dialogue, it welcomed to its meeting a Scottish Government official, who updated Forum members on a meeting of the CLF held the previous day.

Mr Wilson added: “The CICV Forum is very pleased to be so closely linked with the CLF as it carries out its important work and we are sure that we will enjoy the same productive relationship with Mr McKee as we did with his predecessor.

“We are delighted that the CLF continues to be chaired at Ministerial level and we will continue to provide practical suggestions and solutions in a spirit of collaboration and co-operation.”

The CLF was formed in 2019 by Construction Scotland and the Scottish Government to focus on the sector as a key economic driver and has been instrumental in detailing the industry’s longer-term recovery plan.

Along with the CICV Forum, it is now firmly committed to the ideals of co-operation and collaboration within the industry and to demonstrating the sector’s determination that it can flourish by working together.

Business Minister Ivan McKee said: “Through collaboration, the CICV Forum provides valuable contributions to the work of the CLF. It has quickly become a major influence on the construction industry’s direction of travel, offering practical guidance and support at a time when it was most needed.

“I hope that support will continue as we work together on delivery of the CLF’s long-term Recovery Plan which is showing steady progress and on the transformation which is vital for the sector.

“I look forward to working with the CICV Forum and our other partners to build the sustainable, innovative, diverse and successful industry we all want to see.”

Since its inception at the start of the pandemic in the spring of 2020, the CICV Forum has evolved from being a successful and innovative crisis response organisation into a major voice within the Scottish construction sector.

Made up of more than 70 trade associations, professional services bodies and companies, it has maintained a steady supply of information and practical advice to the sector as well as carrying out surveys, hosting webinars and holding regular discussions with the Scottish Government.

The Forum’s most recent event was a political hustings in April, during which Scottish Parliamentary candidates from the five main political parties debated the major issues facing today’s construction industry.

Scott Logic awarded contract to develop the Scottish Government’s digital identity platform

Software consultancy Scott Logic has been awarded a new contract to act as implementation and development partner on the Scottish Government‘s digital identity programme.

The digital identity programme is part of the Scottish Government’s Digital Strategy actions to build a suite of common platforms to be adopted across the public sector, transforming government. The commitment is to introduce a digital identity service for users: to develop and establish a trusted and secure service for users to prove who they are, and that they are eligible for a service.

Business Minister, Ivan McKee

Users will be able to store their information and choose to share it when applying to public services. This will improve a user’s access to services by providing a safe, secure and accessible way to prove their identity, while reducing time and cost for the public sector.

Business Minister Ivan McKee said:

“People expect public services that are accessible and simple to use. They want them to be inclusive and designed around their needs, rather than the structures of the organisations that provide them.”

“Our vision is to introduce a digital identity service for users, that provides a safe and easy way for people to prove that they are eligible for a public service or benefit online.”

The programme encompasses four main components: secure sign-in for end users, an attribute store, integration with credential providers and integration with service customers, the public sector organisations that depend on verification. Scott Logic is the principal implementation and development partner, bringing its engineering expertise, as well as configuring, testing, API development and full service management.

Scott Logic began work on the initial two-year project in April 2021, and there is an option for two one-year extensions should they be required.

Stuart Grey, Head of Consultancy – Edinburgh office

“This is a user-driven platform that will improve access to public services in Scotland by providing citizens with a safe and secure way to prove their identity. It will also reduce time and cost for the public sector when delivering digital services,” said Stuart Grey, Head of Consultancy Edinburgh office, Scott Logic. “It’s an essential component of Scottish Government’s platform strategy, giving users complete control over how their personal information is used, stored and shared to prove eligibility for a public service or benefit online. We have a strong heritage working with the public sector and to be entrusted with such an important strategic project is testament to our credentials and expertise in this field.”

Scott Logic employs more than 300 people, providing a wide range of technology services, including architecture and technical strategy, bespoke software development, and data engineering. In January 2021 it announced the appointment of former executive director of Government Digital Services (GDS), Stephen Foreshew-Cain, as the new company CEO.

The digital identity programme is the second major piece of work for Scott Logic with the Scottish Government. After partnering during the prototype and alpha phases, Scott Logic began work in October 2020 on a new payment platform that will allow Scottish public sector departments to manage payments consistently.

With tens of millions of transactions set to take place in coming years, this two-year project aims to drive consistency of user experience and standardise the outbound payment process across Scottish Government. Scott Logic is the implementation and development partner, building the platform, application and integration services.

South Lanarkshire Council Embarks on Modernisation of ‘Care at Home Service’ with Totalmobile

Implementation to digitalise and automate scheduling of over 36,000 home care visits a week will save time and money whilst improving communication with social care stakeholders

Totalmobile, the UK leader in Field Service Management software solutions, has announced it is working with South Lanarkshire Council to modernise the service that plans, schedules and carries out personal care to around 1,500 service users a week.

The council’s Care at Home Service operates seven days a week to help people remain as independent as they possibly can in their own home. The modernised service is being rolled out in four localities, starting with Hamilton in May 2021, over the next six months. Rutherlen & Cambuslang, Clydesdale, and East Kilbride localities will follow in that order before the end of the calendar year.

Historically, the service planned visits and resources manually, relying on a team’s local knowledge. It was a time intensive process, and any optimisation or changes required to a schedule were made manually. This proved troublesome due to the need to then communicate to a mobile workforce of almost 1,000 Home Carers.

A pilot was run initially in the Hamilton locality where Totalmobile’s Optimise, Mobilise and CareLink solutions were implemented. Jobs were scheduled via Totalmobile’s field service management technology that optimises resource and journey planning. It connects workers out in the field with the office via handheld mobile devices, and links to other stakeholders like GPs and the NHS service.

Scott McNeill, Service Manager for registered Care at Home Services at South Lanarkshire commented: “Modernising our Care at Home Service with Totalmobile enables us to direct more of our staff time towards supporting and makes us more efficient. We’d known for some time that our existing system had limited efficiency, it took one of our community support coordinators a day a week just scheduling jobs, and then inevitably changes had to be made. It was time intensive and reactive.

“The initial roll out in Hamilton for 30 carers working on 1,000 visits per week began in March and it couldn’t have run more smoothly. In fact, we went straight from pilot to live implementation with the support of Totalmobile training the workforce on its easy-to-use interface. The support we have received from Totalmobile has been tremendous, as has been the positive feedback we’ve received from our workforce. We are now more efficient than we’ve ever been.”

The dynamic nature of the new service now means that jobs can be rescheduled at short notice and avoids wasting resources through staff attending last minute cancellations. It also optimises journey planning so that no more time ‘on the road’ is spent than is necessary.

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Yvonne Williams is head of English

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Thousands of roles available in the ‘hidden’ employability industry as the sector prepares for the busiest time in its history

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Whizz Education Quantifies Maths Lockdown Learning Loss

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Dr Junaid Mubeen, Director

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