April 2024


Why the public sector must spring clean their databases

By Barley Laing, the UK Managing Director at Melissa

With little attempt to increase public sector budgets in the Spring Budget, apart from for the NHS, most public bodies are continuing to face significant cuts to their spending power in real terms over the coming years. This is backed up by figures from the Resolution Foundation that predicts many in the public sector face a 16 per cent drop in spending power between 2022-23 and 2027-28, despite inflation showing signs of easing.

At the same time the Government is actively encouraging public bodies to be more productive in how they operate.

This means the core focus for the public sector has to be on fiscal due diligence and investigating possible efficiencies, from top to bottom.

Why clean databases?

With spring in the air a great place to start delivering efficiencies is by maintaining clean databases of those that use their services. This way they can avoid wasting time and precious budget on inaccurate communications, and continue to provide a standout service to the public. 

Barley Laing

Also, with accurate data on users it’s possible to obtain valuable insight, such as a single citizen view (SCV), which can be used for better targeting, including personalisation with communications. This will help to deliver a consistent, positive user experience, which is something people expect in today’s increasingly digital world.

In fact, best practice decision making is based on high quality, reliable user data, because the insight that it helps to provide makes it possible to create informed decisions; for example, on the future of a service, or the creation of a new one.

Data decay an ongoing issue

A big issue for the public sector is that data decays on average at two per cent a month and roughly 25 per cent a year, as people move home, divorce or pass away. With data continually degrading it’s essential to have data cleaning processes in place not only at the onboarding stage, but to clean held data in batch. The good news is such an approach usually involves simple and cost-effective changes to the data quality regime.

How to effectively clean databases:

Use an address lookup or autocomplete service

To obtain accurate contact data at the onboarding stage it’s essential to use an address lookup or autocomplete service. These tools deliver accurate address data in real-time by providing a properly formatted, correct address when the user starts to input theirs. At the same time the number of keystrokes required is cut by up to 81 per cent, when entering an address. This speeds up the onboarding process and improves the whole experience, making it significantly more likely that the user will complete an application or purchase.

Such a service is very important because about 20 per cent of addresses entered online contain errors; these include spelling mistakes, wrong house numbers, and incorrect postcodes, typically due to errors when typing contact information.

First point of contact verification can be extended to email, phone and name, so this valuable contact data can also be verified in real-time.

Deduplicate data

The average database contains 8-10 per cent duplicate records, which makes data duplication a common and significant issue. It occurs for a number of reasons, for example when two departments merge their data and errors in contact data collection take place at different touchpoints. It adds cost in terms of time and money, particularly with printed communications and online outreach campaigns, and it can have a negative impact on the sender’s reputation. Using an advanced fuzzy matching tool to merge and purge the most challenging records is the best solution to create a ‘single user record’ and source an optimum single citizen view (SCV). The insight from which can be used to improve communications.

Additionally, organising contact data in this way will increase efficiency and reduce costs, because multiple communication efforts will not be made to the same person. Finally, the potential for fraud is reduced with a unified record established for each user.

Data cleansing and suppression

It is important to undertake data cleansing or suppression to reveal people who have moved or are no longer at the address on file. Along with removing incorrect addresses, these services can include deceased flagging to stop the distribution of mail and other communications to those who have passed away, which can cause distress to their friends and relatives. By employing suppression strategies the public sector can save money by not distributing inaccurate messaging, protecting their reputations, while boosting their targeting efforts to overall improve the user experience.

Use a data cleaning platform

Today, it’s never been easier or more cost-effective to deliver data quality in real-time to support wider organisational efficiencies and the delivery of a better user experience. One that stands out is a scalable data cleaning software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform that can be accessed in a matter of hours, and doesn’t require coding, integration, or training. This technology can cleanse and correct names, addresses, email addresses, and telephone numbers worldwide. It also matches records, ensuring no duplication, and data profiling is provided to help identify issues for further action. A single, intuitive interface offers the opportunity for data standardisation, validation, and enrichment, ensuring high-quality contact information across multiple databases. It can deliver this with held data in batch and as new data is being gathered. As well as SaaS, such a platform can alternatively be deployed as a cloud-based API or on-premise.

In summary

Delivering databases that are clean and accurate must be one of the first things those in the public sector implement during these challenging times for budgets. Making a concerted effort to spring clean their databases, something they should do on an ongoing basis, will make sure they deliver significant efficiency savings, while also providing a standout experience to those that use their services.

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

Self-Driving Ops: A Reality for UK Government Agencies?

By Krishna Sai, Senior Vice President of Engineering, SolarWinds

In the ever-evolving landscape of public sector IT, complexity has emerged as a formidable challenge.

Well-intentioned technology investments like cloud services, meant to modernize government operations, are inadvertently creating labyrinthine IT ecosystems that are difficult to manage and secure. This complicated environment isn’t just an operational headache — it can become a roadblock against further innovation.  

Krishna Sai

This trend was addressed in a National Audit Office study entitled “The challenges in implementing digital change.” The watchdog report stated: “Failure to understand the complexity and dependencies associated with replacing legacy IT has undermined government’s attempts to move away from legacy systems. Making the transition from legacy systems to modern replacements is complex and difficult, especially if the legacy system has many dependencies.”

The report urged enterprises to “avoid the operational complexity and decline in performance that can occur when too much change happens too quickly and incoherently.”

Government IT leaders face a paradox. How can they accelerate digital transformation without causing extra complexity for their tech teams? Perhaps counterintuitively, the answer might be more technology.

The potential of self-driving operations

Imagine an IT environment where artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) step in to assist IT professionals in analyzing, predicting, and decision-making. This would free IT teams from the minutiae of day-to-day operations, enabling a shift from reactive to proactive IT management. This promising solution is called self-driving operations, and rapid advancements in AI are bringing it closer to reality. Ultimately, self-driving operations will help ensure that the IT environment — from legacy infrastructure to cloud services to databases — won’t crash.

Observability is the foundation of self-driving ops

For self-driving operations to become a reality, government organizations must first prioritize observability. Observability technology goes beyond traditional monitoring tools to provide a holistic view of an organization’s entire digital ecosystem across on-premises, hybrid, and multi-cloud environments.

According to Gartner, the average organization uses 15 monitoring tools. This contributes to alert fatigue and tool sprawl. With a unified observability tool, teams can consolidate the number of monitoring solutions in place and receive more intelligent, actionable alerts.

Through a single pane of glass, teams can receive health scores and insights across networks, applications, databases, and systems. Observability enables IT professionals to understand dependencies across complex IT systems so that they can identify and resolve problems faster.

Preparing for a future with autonomous operations

Gaining visibility of the IT environment enables organizations to move a step closer to fully autonomous IT operations.

Think of driving a car. In this case, an observability solution acts like lane assist. It uses intelligence to make certain decisions independently, but still requires human oversight and control. On the other hand, self-driving operations are more akin to Tesla’s autopilot, which uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to navigate the roads autonomously.

In an IT environment, self-driving operations would enable the automation of routine maintenance tasks and problem resolution, addressing issues before they impact operations. If a database shows signs of strain, the system can automatically allocate additional resources or reroute traffic to maintain performance.

Although self-driving operations are not a reality yet — and some overworked IT pros might label it a fantasy — glimpses of an autonomous future are starting to appear. In this future, tech teams will spend significantly less time identifying and remediating problems, and more time focused on strategy and innovation.

In the meantime, an AI-powered observability solution can correlate metrics and events, identify anomalies, and intelligently reduce alerts. This helps teams understand what issues are actually important so that they can be addressed promptly. IT professionals are empowered to concentrate on developing new products and executing critical business initiatives while minimizing the need to constantly hop between monitoring tools.

An exciting new frontier

As the next chapter in IT management, self-driving ops is set to revolutionize government IT. By embracing AI-powered observability now, organizations can get a handle on complex IT environments, enhance resiliency, and continue to drive digital transformation. These forward-thinking administrations will position themselves to reap the benefits of self-driving operations, ensuring they can deliver mission-critical government services for decades to come.

Krishna Sai leads the engineering, technology, and architecture teams at SolarWinds. He is a seasoned leader and entrepreneur with over two decades of experience scaling global engineering teams and building winning products across multiple industries. Sai has held leadership roles at Atlassian, Groupon, and Polycom, co-founded two technology companies, and holds several patents. 

Circular Computing calls for global plan of action on sustainable IT  

Industry leaders including Microsoft, Dell, HP and Lenovo to meet at Circular Computing’s ‘Re: Sustainable IT Summit’ to advance the circular economy within the IT sector 

IT industry responsible for 54m tonnes of e-waste and 760m tonnes of CO2 every year  

Remanufacturing 1,000 laptops takes the equivalent of 80 cars off road for a year   

The global leader in laptop remanufacturing, Circular Computing, is calling for a global plan of action to address the significant sustainability challenges facing the IT sector. Next month, at a global summit of industry leaders, it plans to address growing concerns about the 54million tonnes* of e-waste, and 760million tonnes of CO2 emissions, released by the industry every year. 

The Re: Sustainable IT Summit, taking place on April 23rd in the UAE, will welcome leaders from some of the largest companies in IT, including Microsoft, Atos and HP. It’s the first time senior stakeholders in IT asset disposition (ITAD), distribution, reselling, leasing and manufacturing will come together for a collaborative debate on this scale, aiming to tackle sustainability challenges in the IT sector, and explore the opportunities offered by circular processes such as remanufacturing.  

The event will be held at Circular Computing’s BSI Kitemark certified remanufacturing facility in the UAE. Considered the most advanced in the world, the facility delivers up to 20,000 remanufactured and refurbished laptops every month. By positioning attendees ‘in the middle of the work’, the event will put theory and practice together to find tangible and workable solutions.  

Rod Neale, CEO of Circular Computing, says:“Most companies in the industry are wrestling with the challenges of bringing deep changes to their entire business model. Changes that in some cases are commercially stressful on supply chains that have been in place for decades. Without financial resilience and success, no scalable environmental benefits get delivered, so this is not an overnight answer to where the channel can just change. 
“When I started speaking of the event, I used one word more than any other: ‘collaboration’, and it is a testament to the industry that so many influential people are now coming together to ensure we collectively make the most progress possible. In a commercial world where revenue, channels and market share must be protected, it is great to see that this does not overrule the desire to do the same for our planet.” 

Vildan Demir, Regional Director at DHL Supply Chain added: “Joining forces with industry leaders at this event will enable us to shape the future of technologies, to discuss, debate, and work together to pave the way for a resilient and sustainable digital environment.”The global logistics leader has committed to invest $7 billion to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and is attending the event. 

The event was first conceived to showcase the work being done by Circular Computing to advance the quality of used IT products in the channel. Following enormous desire from the industry, the event has transformed into a summit where senior leaders will discuss and deliver real change. An opportunity for the IT sector to work together to become more sustainable, and specifically consider how pre-used products can be delivered to the channel at scale – usually a preserve of only brand new.  

Rakshit Ghura, SVP of Digital Workplace at HCL added: “It will be great to engage with similar companies from across the spectrum around the subject of how sustainable IT can and is changing the channel forever”.  

The challenge of delivering a pre-used product into the brand-new channel is a conundrum of brand equity, commercials, and product support. There is always a level of inconsistency and risk associated with buying a refurbished product (not remanufactured), depending on the level of work done to a device. In contrast, brand-new products offer consistency and low (to no) risk. 

Now, there is a new class of product: BSI Kitemark certified remanufactured. These second-use products mirror new ones, boasting zero risk and uniformity, while sharing the environmental and cost benefits of a circular economy. This certification addresses the demand for sustainable choices while ensuring product reliability and consistency, bridging the gap between pre-used and brand-new markets. 

Rod Neale, CEO of Circular Computing, continues: There needs to be an IT channel where everything can co-exist without a compromise on the standard of service, the quality of product, the commercial targets and the value of the planet we have rented from the next generation.”  

Calculations by Cranfield University show that for every Circular Computing remanufactured laptop, approximately 316kg (700lb) of CO2 emissions are prevented by not buying new. For every 1,000 laptops, that is the same as taking 80 cars off the road for a year. 
Jason Warren, VP Head of Cross Portfolio at Atos: “After signing our partnership in 2021, Circular Computing is a key component of our Sustainable Digital Workplace offering which we have built to maximise the ROI for all of our global clients challenged with technology advance, estate stability and ESG targets. This event will allow for the cross pollination of best ideas, visions and practices and has captured a moment in time when the IT channel is ‘working it out’.”  

If you are a global leader in the delivery of sustainable IT and you feel you’re a missing valuable voice in the room, then you can reach out to  

Please be aware that at the time of writing the event is close to capacity.  

Please visit:  

Embracing the hybrid landscape

We now know that the shift to hybrid is a fixed part of the world of work today. It’s a fundamental shift in the working landscape. But, for IT professionals, some critical aspects of navigating the cloud shift exist.

Gerry Flanagan

With remote and hybrid working, there can be some significant challenges to overcome, but also some opportunities along the way.   Some organisations have concerns about data security and vendor lock-in and day-to-day concerns about employee productivity. Working on many IT migration projects, I wanted to share my experience addressing and overcoming these challenges.

The new normal for many employees is now hybrid working in some form. It has transformed our need for remote collaboration and accelerated cloud adoption. Many organisations now offer new hybrid working flexibility, which brings an element of decentralisation. The days of a 9-5 desk are replaced with home working, hot desking or the hybrid model.

As we watch this new working pattern evolve, it brings with it implications for infrastructure adjustments. One area is Service Level Agreements (SLAs), which can be complex to navigate, but there is a heightened need to examine these agreements closely and align expectations and metrics with service providers for these new ways of working. We can no longer define an SLA based on standalone metrics; we need to look at them in relation to each other, and through understanding the intricacies of these SLAs, businesses can ensure that their cloud engagements are optimised to deliver better return on investment.

But, this begs the question of how we can enhance efficiency for employees when hybrid working. One area to start is by looking at the principles of service integration and management (SIAM). By implementing SIAM frameworks to focus on outcomes rather than activities, organisations can streamline operations, enhance efficiency, and ensure seamless collaboration across diverse IT ecosystems, which can improve productivity and play a key role in facilitating these new hybrid working environments.

If we move away from looking at People Process and Technology, there is a need for IT organisations to redefine themselves in terms of the Cloud, Ecosystems, Capabilities and Platforms. SIAM principles focus on integrating multiple service providers, managing complex IT environments, and delivering cohesive services to end-users. In remote and hybrid working contexts, SIAM principles provide a structured approach to managing hybrid IT landscapes, enabling organisations to leverage cloud technologies while maintaining excellent levels of effective operational management.

Hybrid working brings with it so many opportunities, but only if we embrace the new model of the ever-changing work landscape. If we leverage cloud technologies effectively, organisations can not only drive innovation and enhance collaboration but they can also stay ahead of the digital game. By putting the correct strategies in place, the future world of work can deliver many positive opportunities for organisations and their workforce, and those willing to embrace and adapt to these changes will thrive.

Gerry Flanagan BSc IT(Hons) CITP FBCS, IT Consulting Practitioner, Scopism Community SIAM Expert and Fellow of BCS: The Chartered Institute for IT.

Public sector voted one of the most popular careers by young people

New research of 18 to 25 year-olds has revealed the public sector to be one of the most appealing industries to build a long-term career.

When asked to rank 10 of the most common industries to work in, young people placed the public sector in fourth place, ahead of industries like legal and tech.

The research of 1,000 18-25 year-olds, commissioned by leading change and transformation consultancy, Grayce, found positive perceptions of a career in the public sector. Almost half (47%) believe this career path would offer an attractive benefits package, while 43% agree it would pay well in line with their aspirations as graduate/entry-level talent.

In addition to competitive remuneration, young people also associate public sector careers with good work/life balance (45%) and flexibility (43%), factors that are increasingly being considered extremely important by emerging talent entering the workforce.

Yet, new data from LGA suggests a disconnect between the generally positive view of a career in the public sector and those going on to pursue it. Its figures reveal under 25s make up just 4.6% of the workforce, while more than 70% of local government employees are over the age of 40.

In addition, the latest Government Skills Survey found that public sector establishments were more likely to have skills gaps (21%) compared to private sector bodies and charity or voluntary sector establishments (15%).

Grayce’s research also highlighted concern around cuts the public sector has experienced, with 44% saying they would avoid pursuing a career in the public sector for this reason.

Amy Gornall, Public Sector Client Director at Grayce commented: “It’s positive to see that emerging talent hold positive views around public sector careers, and want to drive meaningful change through their work. This reflects the feedback we get from our growing consultant population in Public Sector at Grayce. However, the research also shows that the sector needs to change if we are to effectively convert this interest into fulfilling careers.

“One of the biggest gaps – but greatest opportunities for young people – is transformation. The public sector has long trailed behind other sectors in this area, and with just 4% of civil servants working in digital roles compared with an average of between 8-12% in other sectors, we have some catching up to do.

“This means that there’s a significant opportunity for public sector organisations to highlight the change and transformation opportunities available and the impact they can have in freeing up vital resources, improving services, and driving social value.

“To do this, organisations need access to work-ready talent with specialist digital skills – employees that can hit the ground running and deliver ROI from the get-go. The future of the public sector relies on their ability to transform and organisations need support to effectively engage, nurture and develop talent to offer long-term, fulfilling careers in the public sector.”

For more insights from the research and how public sector organisations can attract and benefit from this emerging talent, read Grayce’s latest blog here:

Government Technology Made Easy: How to Better Connect With the Community

By Nadav Avni, CMO of Radix Technologies

We’ve come a long way in improving public communications via government technology. Citizens once relied on newspapers, radio, or TV to hear from their leaders. And while these means live on, digital communications have opened a new way for governments to connect with their citizens.

Nadav Avni

Every government department and local government agency now uses digital technology for everything from managing queues at local transport offices to announcing interest rate rises. Communications agencies send email updates, tweet announcements, publish web bulletins and articles, and host webinars. In many government offices, an Android TV-powered device often works simultaneously as an information kiosk, a digital display, and a bulletin board.

Why Governments Must Improve Connections With the Community

Citizens demand transparency in their elected representatives. No matter what the situation is, people expect their government leaders to tell them the facts. Community engagement enables leaders to update stakeholders on the status of their programs. Meanwhile, citizens love access to information so they can be involved in discussions about their area.

The sooner your residents receive news, the better. And what better way to receive information from the government than with modern communication technology?

More importantly, current government technology should support and even encourage two-way communication. People have a right to be heard, from small complaints about uncollected refuse to large issues like a union strike. At the same time, the government has to reply. Whether it’s addressing a growing concern like a pandemic or responding to a child’s letter, people want to know the government is actively working on their behalf.

To improve communications with the community at large, government agencies should invest in modern digital technologies that allow for better interaction. These technologies should be widely available, easy to use, manageable, and responsive.

Streamlining Communications Through Android TV Displays

Android TV devices are among the most common and widely used communication equipment in the world today. As of January 2023, more than 150 million devices worldwide use Android TV as their preferred operating system (OS). This includes smart TVs, set-top boxes (STBs for dumb TVs), dongles, sound bars, and projectors.

On their own, these devices can do the job they’re supposed to. But with Android TV powering them, televisions and tablets become much more useful and effective. Android TV turns dumb devices into smart TVs complete with streaming services and other applications. The devices can then serve as dedicated billboard displays, information kiosks, and active signs.

Android TV also helps improve the communication capabilities of present government technology. A small investment can turn static display devices into helpful and interactive communication devices.

Automating Visitor Navigation in Government Offices

Information kiosks are a great way for people to get directions almost instantly. Self-service devices can provide accurate information to travellers and first-time visitors any time of day. There’s no need to wait in line until a clerk is able to assist them. In a busy airport or crowded government building, self-service information kiosks can quickly get lost individuals back on the trail.

To turn dumb displays into smart information assistants, admins simply install a navigation app, a basic chat program, and the venue’s digital map. Android TV also helps administrators secure the displays by shutting down all other apps and locking the device into exclusive kiosk mode.

Providing Community Alerts Through Government Technology

Android TV devices can also use basic chat or broadcast apps to deliver important messages across the government’s many display devices. For example, officials can alert the general public of critical incidents by activating a banner message during normal broadcasts.

Admins won’t have to shut down regular broadcasts. Rather, they can display the message as a running ticker above or below the screen. In case of urgent matters and heightened emergencies, admins can override the displays to broadcast any critical advisories across the screen.

Community Signage and Announcements

Display devices in government buildings can act as dynamic billboards that can instruct, inform, and engage audiences. A digital display makes these visits more effective and efficient by sharing wait time updates, important advisories and announcements, or basic instructions and guides.

Say your community has a digital display that gives residents the day’s temperature, weather, and traffic conditions. In between updates, the display can also show important advisories such as tax deadlines and voter registration dates.

Improve Government Technology With a Capable Android TV Manager

With the proliferation of Android TV across government offices as well as community areas, managing these devices requires capable Android TV management software. IT administrators use the device management platform to manage all connected devices, perform maintenance services, and provide security measures.

With remote connectivity, the Android TV manager can check individual devices to ensure all software and firmware are running the latest versions. If they’re not, admins can then perform over-the-air (OTA) updates via secure connections from Amazon Web Services. The remote system also allows admins to perform updates individually, by batches, or on all units.

A device management platform also makes sure that only authorised users can access the device based on their permission levels. For instance, end users can operate the allowed program and nothing else, while admins can see the operating system and make fixes or improvements.

Additional security features include the ability to freeze, disable, or wipe clean devices that have been compromised or stolen. Security measures should also allow IT teams to lock devices and prevent users from launching authorised apps, playing video games, or visiting social media pages.

Given an agency’s substantial investment in government technology for communication, they must ensure that their devices remain secure. With the right reliable device management solution, it’s easy to keep Android TV devices performing efficiently.

SELECT warns that the competence of installers is paramount as the Scottish Government seeks to introduce new Heat in Buildings standards

Scotland’s largest construction trade body, SELECT, says the Scottish Government needs to set minimum standards of competence for installers as well as installations as it seeks to implement new domestic heating standards.

The campaigning electrical association also says that any new plans also have to take into account the capacity of the energy network as the demand for more electrically-driven technologies and basic infrastructure grows.

SELECT’s warnings came as it responded to a recent Scottish Government consultation into proposals for a Heat in Buildings Bill, which plans to introduce a law requiring homeowners to ensure their homes meet minimum energy efficiency standards by 2033.

The body said that while it agrees in general with the proposal to prohibit the use of polluting heating systems in all buildings by 2045, care was needed that advantage was not taken of vulnerable people and that the increased cost of energy was taken into consideration.

In its response, SELECT said: “We have seen several  government projects run  into problems as they often leave the door open for unscrupulous traders who take advantage of the government’s own messaging as a way of convincing people that work is required when often it is not.

“Any demands for work  needs to be set in the context of availability of energy supply, material supply and labour. Added to that is the increased cost of energy – the differential between gas and electric costs.”

The association added: “It is also vital that the Scottish Government legislates to ensure installations are only undertaken by properly qualified, trained and competent persons. This is as important as any other measure.”

SELECT also warned that poorer households may be less likely to install new low-carbon heating technology, since the cost of undertaking such work will be significant, particularly when the age of Scotland’s housing stock is taken into account.

Its response noted: “To get by, homeowners may take ‘sticking plaster’ actions. For instance, if a house is in a city centre, a flat or in a conservation area, then owners may take easy solutions and not, perhaps, the best solution.”

SELECT is now recommending that:

  • Properties should be considered compliant once they have installed  the measures appropriate for the building type
  • Bio energy should be permitted for those buildings already using it, and
  • There should be a grace period of five years to end the use of polluting energy following a property purchase.
Alan Wilson

Its response added: “The requirement to end the use of polluting heating following a property purchase will penalise those in older properties and especially those in our society less able to pay for measures such as the disabled or elderly.

“They often have asset wealth but not  cash wealth, so selling their home to, say, downsize may penalise them if purchasers are either put off from buying or are told they can only buy with a mortgage at a higher rate.”

Alan Wilson, Managing Director of SELECT, said: “In this consultation, we are suggesting that while we support the general aim to move towards net zero, we must be careful about the danger of unintended consequences.

“Owners of properties that may find it difficult to improve their energy efficiency, particularly in buildings in areas where there are constraints to the electricity network, may be forced to install systems that are expensive or unsuitable to run.

“I know a number of local authorities that are already divesting themselves of building assets that will need considerable sums spent on them. This is already having an unintended consequence of depriving areas of meeting and events halls.”

The Scottish Government consultation – which closed on 8 March – sought views on proposed new laws around the use of heating systems in homes and businesses that would:

  • Reconfirm that the use of polluting heating systems will be prohibited after 2045
  • Require those purchasing a home or business premises to end their use of polluting heating systems within a fixed period following completion of the sale
  • Introduce a new law that will require homeowners to make sure that their homes meet a reasonable minimum energy efficiency standard by 2033
  • Require private landlords to meet this minimum energy efficiency standard by 2028.

How the Met Office Streamlined their Staffing Management issues with Matrix Workforce Management Solutions

Introduction: In 2021, the Met Office faced significant challenges in efficiently managing their agency staff utilisation and controlling their annual spend of approximately £12.5 million. With critical staffing requirements to meet and a lack of structured approach, they turned to Matrix workforce management company for solutions. This case study explores the initial challenges and the transformative solutions introduced through the partnership established via the MSTAR3 Framework.

GPSJ file image

The Problem: The Met Office struggled to ensure the right personnel were in place to meet their critical staffing needs, resulting in cost inefficiencies and difficulties in swiftly filling interim roles. With a need for 100 active placements, managing agency staff effectively was paramount to their operations and budget control.

The Solution: Matrix introduced a neutral vendor delivery model to streamline staffing management and control costs effectively. Key solutions included:

• Establishment of a closed preferred supplier list (PSL) to engage highly qualified and reliable suppliers for interim roles

• Enrolment of a wide range of suppliers in the extended supply chain to ensure a diverse pool of talents while maintaining high-quality staffing

• Implementation of budget adherence measures to improve control over the annual spend, ensuring financial stability

The Outcome: The partnership between Matrix and the Met Office, facilitated through the MSTAR3 framework, has brought about a transformation in staffing management, cost control, and service quality. This has enabled the Met Office to meet its staffing requirements effectively and efficiently, allowing them to focus on core activities.

The Results:

• Over £700k in savings achieved through streamlined processes and cost-effective staffing solutions

• 636+ placements made, ensuring critical positions were promptly filled

• Average of 26 candidates per order, providing a diverse talent pool to meet various staffing needs

• 98.6% fulfilment rate, ensuring continuity in operations and service delivery

• Increased supply chain by 400%, enhancing flexibility and access to talent

Conclusion: Through strategic partnership and innovative solutions, Matrix has enabled the Met Office to overcome staffing challenges, control costs, and improve service quality. The success of this collaboration highlights the effectiveness of the MSTAR3 framework in driving transformation and delivering tangible results. As the Met Office continues to evolve, Matrix remains committed to supporting its staffing needs and facilitating operational excellence.

Working at height innovation: maintenance engineers get spider power boost

Leading spider platform manufacturer Hinowa has recently launched two important new products. Hannah Treggalles, Marketing Director at Access Platform Sales (APS), explains their significant advantages for maintaining buildings and the national power network.

National spider lift rental specialist Paramount Platforms has become the first access hire company in the UK to take delivery of the new Hinowa 40.18 Lightlift Performance IIIS.

APS, Hinowa’s UK and Ireland distributor, has supplied the company with the tracked spider boom, now the largest in the Hinowa range, with a maximum working height of 40.2 metres.

Paramount Platforms Director Lee Kerr: “This Hinowa is the best spider lift in its performance range. It’s a gamechanger for our clients working up to 40 metres.”

Paramount Platforms sent the spider platform straight out on long-term hire to support planned maintenance at a prestigious financial HQ building in London.

The Hinowa Lightlift 40.18 has a maximum working height of 40.2m and a maximum outreach of 17.5m, with an unrestricted basket capacity of 230kg and, importantly, a restricted capacity of 300kg.

‘So easy to use’

Paramount Platforms Director Lee Kerr is impressed. He said: “This Hinowa is the best spider lift in its performance range. It’s a gamechanger for working at heights approaching 40 metres and where significant outreach is needed.

“We almost always supply large spider lifts with an operator. The Hinowa 40.18 is so easy to use, if the client has used other Hinowa platforms, I have no qualms about them taking the 40.18 on self-drive hire.”

Being easy to use was not just a nice to have. It also opened up the possibility of hiring large platforms to a new segment of customers, by influencing judgements about rental risks.

Lee Kerr said: “It’s as simple to operate as a 17-metre Hinowa. Members of the facilities management team who were the first to use it were amazed at its performance, including how quiet it is.”

Reduced carbon footprint

Paramount Platforms has taken a bi-energy Hinowa 40.18, with a low-emissions diesel engine and lithium batteries for all-electric zero-emissions and low carbon operation.

This provides the rental company with maximum flexibility for outdoor and indoor operation, also for working in ultra low emissions zones and where noise-level restrictions apply. It can also be supplied with diesel engine only or solely with lithium battery power.

Founded in 2009, Paramount Platforms has one of the biggest spider  fleets in the UK, with working heights from 15.7m to 42m, the biggest proportion of them Hinowa platforms.

Hinowa 40.18

APS Key Accounts Director Linda Betts, said: “Hinowa puts a huge amount of investment into making all their platforms extremely easy to operate, with smart functions that ensure they’re very safe and reliable.

“The Hinowa 40.18 typifies this approach. Its up-and-over capability will solve just as many lower working height challenges where outreach is vital, allowing these tasks to be completed with less disruption and cost.”

Narrow stabilisation

The Hinowa Lightlift 40.18 has a larger basket (2,000mm by 700mm), big enough to take up to three operatives within the 300kg restricted capacity. In this higher capacity set-up, the maximum working height is still 40.2m but outreach is reduced to 16.5m.

The platform’s outriggers can also be operated in a narrow stabilisation area for – 6,675mm by 3,640mm compared with a standard stabilisation area of 5,375mm by 5,040mm. In this set-up, maximum working height is 35m and outreach just under 11m, with a restricted 230kg capacity.

When stowed for tracking, the Lightlift 40.18 is still very compact, with a width of 1,200mm and a height of 1,199mm. That is just 230mm wider than a 20m Hinowa Lightlift 20.10, and the same stowed height.

Power line maintenance boost

Working at height is not just a matter of how high its basket can be raised from the ground. In the power generation sector, the materials the basket is made from also count.

It is why Arborite Tree Services has become the first business in the UK to buy a Hinowa spider platform with a glass-reinforced plastic (GRP) bucket.

APS has supplied Arborite with a Hinowa Lightlift 20.10 Performance IIIS fitted with the specialist bucket to work on trees adjacent to live high voltage power lines.

Working from access platforms with GRP buckets is a key safety requirement when working in the vicinity of high voltage electrical equipment or power lines.

It helps protect the operator should they inadvertently come into contact with a power cable and reduces the risk of electricity arcing across to the machine.

Hampshire-based Arborite is using its Lightlift 20.10 to maintain trees along power lines for distribution network operator (DNO) SSE.

Company owner Jon Challinor said: “We wanted a Hinowa because, being very robust and reliable, they’re the best platforms for tree work.

“Now we can work for SSE on trees adjacent to live power lines. This is something DNOs prefer because they don’t need to shut down power and hire in generators to maintain services.”

GRP buckets – new opportunities

APS Regional Business Manager Jonathan Wiseman said: “Our customers have been keenly looking forward to the arrival of Hinowa spider lifts with GRP buckets.

GRP bucket

“They open up new opportunities for our customers in the power generation sector and, of course, the platforms are fully capable of fulfilling all other working at height tasks.

“When combined with new Hinowa Lightlift spider lifts, they are fully CE-certified. They can also be retrofitted to platforms built from the start of July 2023, once Hinowa has gone through a confirmation process.”

Founded in 2007, Arborite had operated a Hinowa Lightlift 20.10 spider lift with a standard aluminium basket for three years.

Better off-road capability

The company’s teams could still work next to high voltage lines but only during planned shutdowns when the power had been switched off.

Having a Hinowa with a fully-compliant GRP bucket creates opportunities to do more work for SSE adjacent to live power lines with voltages ranging from 11,000v to 33,000v.

Arborite also operates a Land-Rover truck mount, which has a GRP bucket and a 14m maximum working height.

However, the Hinowa LL 20.10 has better off-road capability and, with a maximum working height of 20.1m and a maximum reach of 9.7m, can tackle more challenging tree maintenance tasks.

APS has taken back Arborite’s previous Hinowa LL 20.10 in part exchange. It has also supplied the company with a new 3.5t trailer to tow its new spider lift using a 4×4 vehicle or a van with a standard car driving licence.

Interchangeable with standard basket

Hinowa’s new GRP bucket has been launched after being put through a stringent design and testing programme to ensure it complies with all safety regulations, including passing flame retardancy tests.

Other key performance features include:

  • The GRP bucket can be lifted on and off the boom in the same way as a standard basket to aid tracking in confined spaces;
  • It can be used interchangeably with a standard basket with no adaptations to any platform equipment;
  • The platform has the same unrestricted 230kg capacity and same wind rating as the standard basket;
  • As with the standard basket, water and compressed air lines can be accessed from the GRP bucket.

GRP bucket – six Hinowa platforms

The new GRP bucket can be used with six Hinowa spider lift models: the Lightlift 13.70, Lightlift 15.70, Lightlift 17.75, Lightlift 18.80. Lightlift 20.10 and the Lightlift 26.14.

It means spider lift operators, including platform rental companies, can buy a limited number of GRP buckets and provide them for use across a fleet of Hinowa platforms with different working heights.

Fusion21 invites bids for £80 million Lifts Framework

Procurement organisation and social enterprise Fusion21 has announced the fourth generation of its Lifts Framework worth up to £80 million over four years and is now inviting bids from interested contractors and consultants of any size, providing local, regional or national coverage.

The framework is designed to deliver lift related works and services to estates across the public sector, including housing, education, and healthcare providers. It will support the design, installation, servicing, testing and refurbishment works of passenger/goods lifts, stair lifts and lift consultancy services.

Split into a total of five lots, the framework structure is:

  • Lot 1 Passenger/ goods lifts – servicing and maintenance
  • Lot 2 LOLER thorough examinations
  • Lot 3 Passenger/ goods lifts – installation, refurbishment and upgrading
  • Lot 4 Domestic lifts – installation and servicing
  • Lot 5 Lift consultancy

Peter Francis, Executive Director of Operations at Fusion21 said: “Fusion21 members have an ongoing requirement for vertical transportation equipment which they are legally obliged to maintain. Due to launch in July 2024, the renewal of this framework will enable us to continue offering a framework which support members’ compliance requirements. We welcome bids from organisations, large or small, to provide specialist services for our members. 

“Our refreshed offer will provide a compliant, efficient, and quality framework with members able to benefit from greater cost efficiencies, flexible call-off options and geographical coverage across the UK down to a regional and local level.

“As with all of Fusion21’s frameworks, the Lifts Framework will also support 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:

The submission deadline is 10am on Monday 8 April 2024.

GPSJ Interview with Natasha Phillips

The former NHS CNIO for England has joined the Highland Marketing advisory board. Here, she talks to GPSJ about her passion for transformation, the role of technology, and her mission to put nurses at the heart of debate about both.

Natasha Phillips is on a mission. “I want to bring the nursing view to all discussions where decisions are being made,” she told GPSJ. “Wherever there is not a nurse, we want to put one.”

The red thread of a career 

This is not a new mission for the nursing, transformation, and digital leader. Phillips started her career in London thirty years ago and has held many operational leadership roles.

She led large-scale change projects such as the Hospital@Night programme for Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals NHS Trust, before moving to University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

There, she led an exemplar ward transformation programme, before becoming chief nursing informatics officer, and heading up the first, enterprise-wide deployment of the Epic electronic patient record. That took her to NHS England, where she became the first CNIO in 2020.

“If you look at the red thread of my career, it is a passion for improving our health and care systems which has led me to take on roles and projects where I can do this.

“Early on, I recognised the value of working with colleagues in IT and analytics, to use data and technology to support effective clinical improvements.”

Creating a support network for digital nurses

One of the painful lessons the health service learned from the National Programme for IT in the NHS is that clinical engagement is essential if EPR deployments are going to be successful.

Doctors got involved as the chief clinical information officer role was established. But nursing involvement is more recent, and Phillips says she felt “lonely” leading UCLH’s EPR implementation.

To counter this, she linked in with colleagues in the US and Nordic countries “so there were other nurses who had been on the journey to learn from.” Her ambition as national CNIO was to make sure that other nursing colleagues felt similarly supported.

To this end, she led the production of a ‘What Good Looks Like’ framework for nursing aimed at board-level nurse leaders. The framework has seven success measures for the development of organisations in which nurses and other clinicians can work in a supportive digital healthcare environment, enabling them to provide safe and effective care.

She also co-chaired the Health Education England-commissioned ‘Phillips Ives Nursing and Midwifery Review.’ This built on the Topol Review to identify how person-centred practice will evolve as nurses use more technology to deliver care in the next five, ten and 20 years.

The findings highlight how education must shift to prepare nurses to deliver person-centred care in a digital health and care system.

Education and skills for life and leadership

Frustratingly, the review has yet to be published; but Phillips says it’s clear that digital education and skills will need to be shot through future careers.

“We need to start with undergraduate education, so people have the core skills they will need to make use of new technology when it is available,” she says.

“Then, we need to look at postgraduate education. If people are specialising – if they are becoming an asthma nurse, or whatever – then we need to ask: ‘where is the technology in that?’ Then, there are deployments, for which we need to talk about training, and how to make sure we are training people in context.

“And alongside all that, we have our CNIOs and nurse leaders in the digital space. We wouldn’t appoint somebody to a specialist job unless they had an appropriate qualification, and the same needs to apply to people choosing to work in digital. We have the NHS Digital Academy, but we need to do more.”

Frontline digitisation and investing in EPRs 

The best education and skills are useless without good technology. NHS England is leading a £900 million frontline digitisation programme to complete the NPfIT agenda of digitising the acute sector by March 2026.

In an apparent bid to prevent some of the business continuity and reporting problems that have plagued some previous implementations, it is looking for “tiger teams” to go in and support trusts that have not deployed an EPR before.

However, Phillips argues the lesson of successful implementations, such as the one at UCLH, is to focus on benefits. “Trusts tend to decide to implement an EPR, and ask how they are going to do it,” she says. “Instead, they should ask what the benefits are going to be, and how to achieve them.

“That way, you can start the design phase earlier.” Plus, she adds, trusts need to invest in their EPRs on an ongoing basis. For example, she says, they need to focus on workforce engagement and change management to make sure the systems are fit for purpose and are reducing the administrative burden, not adding to it.

And they need to build-out newer ideas, like truly closed-loop electronic prescribing and medicines administration, with single unit dosing capabilities, and greater device integration, to further reduce that burden.

Finding the technology to solve problems

Digital transformation is about more than hospitals and about more than EPRs (even if they remain the focus of national leadership and press attention). Phillips certainly has plenty of items on her health tech wish-list.

“While we need technologies like EPRs to support more effective communication between care teams, we also need technology to support other areas of practice,” she says. “We are starting to see this with technology-enabled models for virtual wards and remote monitoring.

“Beyond this, we need the nursing workforce to generate the next wave of digital innovation that tackles challenges like the nursing workforce shortage.”

Examples exist. Phillips outlines one from University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, which had a shortage of tissue viability specialist nurses. Using technology, specialist TVN nurses were able to attend the patient’s bedside to visualise the wound and guide a bedside nurse to manage it.

However, she says: “We need much more nurse led innovation like this to address the real challenges we face.”

A passion for change

Phillips became national CNIO as NHSX was formed. The unit aimed to bridge a gap between the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England, to create space to develop NHS IT policy, and to make best use of the delivery capacity of NHS Digital.

In this environment, Phillips made great strides in advancing nursing’s inclusion in the digital agenda. During her tenure, the number of CNIOs in provider organisations grew to 85%, and this translated to a stronger clinical voice in digital change programmes up and down the country.

More recently, she moved on to establish Future Nurse, a consultancy working with the industry and the health and care system to support effective clinically-informed digital transformation.

Phillips describes this as a natural next step in her career, and one that is still defined by that red thread of passion for: “Making the NHS better, improving the lives of clinicians, and making sure that patients get great care.”

Nurses are now more involved in designing and implementing existing digital systems like EPRs. But next, nurses must be involved in identifying and ideating technological innovations.

“In this next stage of my career, I aim to create a much closer working relationship between nursing and health tech vendors,” she says.

“That will ensure technological innovations are informed by the challenges nurses face in daily practice and the opportunities they see to do things differently. Watch this space to see how we will deliver this through Future Nurse.”

Fusion21 names suppliers appointed to £820 million Heating, Renewables and Electrical Framework

Procurement organisation Fusion21 has revealed the suppliers successfully appointed to its national Heating, Renewables and Electrical Framework worth up to £820 million over a four-year period.

A total of 80 specialist firms – 84% being SMEs, have secured a place on the framework which is now in its fourth generation and has been setup to help the owners of domestic and non-domestic buildings to ensure they are safe and compliant in respect of heating and electrical installations and to support their journey to carbon net zero.

Alongside traditional heating installations and electrical testing/works, it also covers innovative technologies dedicated to sustainable heating solutions (including ground source and air source heating) and quality assurance audits. The framework is specifically designed to support public sector organisations, including housing, education, and healthcare providers.

Peter Francis, Executive Director of Operations at Fusion21 said: “We’ve listened to member and supply chain feedback and streamlined previous lots to create a new generation of the Heating, Renewables and Electrical Framework which combines a full heating offer, renewable technology, quality assurance audits and two electrical lots.

“In addition to working with a team of technical procurement experts and a rigorously assessed and approved supply chain, Fusion21 members accessing this offer will benefit from a compliant and efficient route to market, flexible call-off options and geographical coverage across the UK, down to a regional and local level. 

“As with all Fusion21’s frameworks, this latest framework enables our members to deliver social value within their communities, aligned to their organisational priorities.”

Successful suppliers appointed to Fusion21’s national Heating, Renewables and Electrical Framework:

An NHS first for public cloud: Homerton Healthcare achieves milestone with Sectra imaging technology

Homerton Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has become the first organisation anywhere in the NHS to deploy Sectra’s enterprise imaging service using public cloud.

The deployment has shown that NHS patient imaging can be efficiently accessed from a secure public cloud environment, just as quickly as when data is stored on-premise.

This has proven important for busy radiology teams at the trust, who have been using the service since the summer, to help them analyse and report on thousands of patient scans that are a vital part of patient diagnosis. The trust delivers around 250,000 imaging reports for patients each year.

Adham Nicola, PACS manager for Homerton Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “As a first-of-type for public cloud in the NHS, we have proven this works. Being bleeding edge can be a challenge. But we have achieved a milestone in cloud adoption for NHS imaging.

“Feedback from radiologists has been nothing but positive. The system is highly reliable, secure, resilient and performs well, supporting our diagnostic teams with lots more functionality that is proving very popular with radiologists. This also has the potential to help us to adopt AI into the future.”

The enterprise imaging service has been deployed using the Sectra One Cloud subscription model. Sectra is providing a fully managed Software as a Service (SaaS), meaning staff at the trust will automatically gain access to relevant functionality and tools as they are released.

Staff have already praised features new to them, including a chat tool, which allows radiologists to quickly share images and communicate with each other as they create reports.

Orthopaedic templating functionality is helping surgeons as they plan for surgery, and means the trust is no longer reliant on a third-party application.

And a business intelligence product is allowing managers to better track activity, create analysis charts, and understand turnaround times and pressure points.

Cross-site reporting functionality will also help to lay foundations for future wider sub-speciality collaboration in the region, in areas such as paediatric and stroke radiology.

The scalable deployment signals an important step for imaging strategy for North East London’s integrated care system. Homerton Healthcare is the first of three trusts in the North East London Health and Care Partnership planning to adopt enterprise imaging in the public cloud.

Niall Canavan, IT director at Homerton Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and chief information officer for North East London Health and Care Partnership, said: “Having imaging available in the public cloud will enable closer collaboration and better access to expertise, especially in areas where there are finite number of specialist radiologists. The team at Homerton Healthcare have not only made a significant achievement in demonstrating to the NHS what is possible in the cloud, but have completed a stage towards regional consolidation.”

Jane Rendall, UK and Ireland managing director for Sectra, said: “What has been achieved by pioneering imaging professionals in Homerton could very quickly become the norm in the NHS. I’m sure many trusts, integrated care systems and NHS imaging networks will look to the trust to learn how they can replicate success as they transition to public cloud. We will certainly be sharing knowledge from this deployment with other NHS customers, as public cloud adoption continues at pace with the potential to enhance how staff work and to save important time in technology adoption.”

Peoplesafe partners with the Suzy Lamplugh Trust

Safety technology provider, Peoplesafe, has extended its partnership with the UK’s pioneering personal safety charity and leading stalking authority, the Suzy Lamplugh Trust. Combining a wealth of expertise, the partnership will offer an ongoing holistic service to organisations, combining expert advice on personal safety strategy – including policy creation and training – with industry-leading personal safety technology that protects people in every situation.

Working together, the Suzy Lamplugh Trust will undertake a full audit for Peoplesafe’s existing and new clients, providing them with implementation plans to help upskill and empower workforces to effectively assess, mitigate, and manage personal safety risks, while Peoplesafe will work on executing plans to ensure the right technology is used for the right situations and rolling them out at scale.

Established in 1986, the Suzy Lamplugh Trust was founded following the disappearance of 25-year-old Suzy Lamplugh, an estate agent and lone worker who went to meet a client and never returned. Suzy was never found and was legally declared dead in 1993. The Trust is widely regarded as a field expert in lone-working and personal safety training and endorses the selection and use of lone-worker technologies in line with requirements of the workforce to safeguard employees.

Working together, the Suzy Lamplugh Trust will undertake a full audit for businesses, providing them with implementation plans to help upskill and empower workforces to effectively assess, mitigate, and manage personal safety risks, while Peoplesafe will work on executing plans to ensure the right technology is used for the right situations and rolling them out at scale.

“For more than 37 years, the Suzy Lamplugh Trust has worked tirelessly to raise greater awareness of personal safety and stalking issues. Through the introduction of pioneering technology, we are excited to join forces in order to drive our shared vision, to demand systemic change and promote a society in which people are better supported and feel safer” says Naz Dossa, CEO, Peoplesafe.

“The Suzy Lamplugh Trust is delighted to continue its collaboration with Peoplesafe to support organisations in addressing lone-working and improving personal safety. We promote the use of lone worker safety technologies as part of Suzy’s Charter for Workplace Safety and look forward to working across all sectors to embed personal safety as a priority across all workplaces” says Emma Lingley-Clark, Interim CEO of the Suzy Lamplugh Trust.

To mark the partnership, Peoplesafe and the Suzy Lamplugh Trust will be hosting a joint webinar, hosted by the Women in Health & Safety group on 19th March.

Alcidion launches Miya Results Tracking in response to patient safety challenge

A systemic cause of patient harm could be better avoided with the help of technology, following the launch of Miya Results Tracking by health tech company Alcidion.

The new digital solution is designed to reduce the risk of test results not being followed up. It has been built to help healthcare professionals in hospital settings to more easily visualise, prioritise and acknowledge high volumes of tests results generated for patients every day, and to take appropriate action in a timely manner.

The issue of results not being acknowledged has become significant in healthcare systems around the world – posing risks including late or missed diagnosis for patients, potentially delayed treatment, and additional cost for healthcare systems.

Academic studies have revealed variation in the extent of the problem but in some cases, literature has shown as many as 62% of test results can go unacknowledged in inpatient settings, and as many as 75% in emergency departments (1). However, it is important to acknowledge that this is often a challenge caused by systems and processes used to manage results, rather than being the fault of busy clinicians.

Dr Paul Deffley, UK chief medical officer for Alcidion, said: “A billion laboratory tests alone are carried out in England and Wales each year at a cost of £2.2bn, many of them in hospital settings – where countless other scans and investigations are also carried out. Disparate ways that such high volumes of results are presented to busy clinicians within healthcare systems, can often create room for error that digital technologies haven’t adequately responded to until now.

“We aim to change that through Miya Results Tracking, which provides healthcare teams with a purpose-built mechanism to manage results more safely, at-scale, from a single screen. This is an important new capability for hospitals in reducing risks and in tackling what has become a critical patient safety issue around the world. It will equip clinical departments and individual clinicians with a digital safety net to help them quickly recognise and appropriately act on diagnostic information.”

The solution works by bringing together and presenting patient results requested in hospital settings through a single screen. Clinical teams can access information from any location. They can filter results to departmental views, and can configure the system to look at relevant results, identify high-priority results that need to be actioned, or to see at-a-glance any outstanding results that need to be filed.

Results can also be filtered at an individual level – both for the clinician requesting tests, and at the patient level. This means clinicians can more easily ensure they have acknowledged and acted on results they have requested, and that decisions can be made for patients in context of a complete set of results.

Staff can create onward plans for patients from the same screen, ordering repeat or follow up examinations when needed, and requesting future review appointments.

Kate Quirke, Alcidion’s CEO, said: “Hospitals need to manage many thousands of results in complex and busy environments. Through Miya Results Tracking, we have built a new capability to help support healthcare teams to do this more safely, whilst reducing the burden on busy clinicians under pressure. We believe this has the potential to help to address an important safety challenge in healthcare, and that strategically this has relevance to digital strategies being progressed in individual hospitals and across integrated care systems.” 

Built using the Miya Precision platform, Miya Results Tracking uses the FHIR interoperability standard to integrate with other hospital systems – allowing it to bring data into a single location for clinicians. It tracks a complete range of hospital results including pre-admission results, and those from inpatient and emergency department encounters. Results received after the patient leaves the hospital are also tracked, which is expected to address a complex challenge currently encountered in managing results after a patient has been discharged.

Miya Results Tracking can be deployed as part of a modular electronic patient record, or as a standalone solution, and can be used to enhance other technologies, such as a patient flow solution. For example, hospitals already using Alcidion’s Miya Flow application, will be able to use the new capability to view and manage results from the digital patient journey board.

Statement on Police Scotland’s Proportionate Response to Crime pilot evaluation

In response to the publication of Police Scotland’s evaluation of the Proportionate Response to Crime pilot in the North East of Scotland, Justice Secretary Angela Constance said:

“Police Scotland have consistently stated that officers in the north-east will continue to investigate all reported crimes, with every case fully assessed and given a proportionate response based on threat, harm and risk. Building and maintaining public confidence remains key to any change in approach.

“Despite deeply challenging financial circumstances due to the UK Government settlement, our Budget for next year includes record police funding of £1.55 billion – an increase of £92.7 million. Scotland continues to have more police officers per head of population than England and Wales and recorded crime is at one of the lowest levels since 1974.”

NHS Scotland’s Right Decision Service built on Tactuum technology

Once-for-Scotland project uses Tactuum’s Quris platform to make clinical guidance and policy tools available to clinicians when and where they need them

Clinicians in Scotland have easy access to clinical guidelines and validated decision support tools using the Right Decision Service (RDS), built on technology developed by Tactuum.

The RDS is a once-for-Scotland national project funded by the Scottish Government and run by Healthcare Improvement Scotland.

It supports or hosts clinical guidance and policy intranets, websites and apps developed by health boards and specialist services, using Tactuum’s Quris Clinical Companion software.

It also holds a unique suite of UK Conformity Assessed decision support tools developed with InnoScot Health as registered manufacturer.

Dr Ann Wales, programme lead for knowledge and decision support at Healthcare Improvement Scotland, said: “The Scottish Government set an objective for the Right Decision Service to deliver a once-for-Scotland decision support platform: a single place that users could go to for national guidelines, local guidelines, pathways, calculators, risk scoring tools and other types of decision support.

“Now, we have a single platform, with a single website, and a single app. We have a series of controls to ensure the quality of what is being shown to users, while clinicians can pick and choose what is relevant to them.

“It’s all about providing quick and easy access to validated guidance with the aim of delivering more standardised, safer care in line with evidence-based practice.”

Alongside national advice published by Healthcare Improvement Scotland, NHS boards and partner organisations invest considerable time and effort in developing clinician guidance and decision support tools for their staff. However, these can often be held on paper or on intranets, from where they are hard to maintain and access.

Tactuum’s Quris Clinical Companion has been developed to enable NHS health boards and trusts to manage the development, governance and publication of clinical guidance and policies and make tools available to clinicians when and where they need them.

The Quris Clinical Companion offers templates to help governance leads and guideline or policy creators to develop action-focused content, which is exposed to clinicians through a website, their electronic patient record, or an app.

The tools are available offline, so they can be used even when there is no internet access or in an emergency. Tactuum worked closely with clinical experts in the US and Scotland on the technology.

Over a decade, the Scottish Government funded pilots and guideline websites and apps for health boards and national hospital services.

When the Covid-19 pandemic arrived, 25 apps were in use in health and care services across the country, and the decision was made to consolidate them into the RDS single platform, to provide a single, national service and a platform for further development.  

Mark Buchner, chief executive of Tactuum, said: “Because we had different deployments of Quris across Scotland, it made sense to integrate them into a single service. It’s exciting to see the RDS in use as a single resource for professionals across the whole country and available to more than 90,000 users.

“Quris has also been able to reduce the number of systems health boards have been using into a single, joined-up collaborative platform. We look forward to working with Healthcare  Improvement Scotland and the Digital Health and Care Innovation Centre on further innovations that directly impact front-line staff and patient care. 

“We also hope the success of Quris and RDS will show other health organisations what can be achieved at a range of scales; from individual clinical departments, to hospital, trust or health board level, right up to integrated care system or national delivery of sharable, linked clinical resources.”

Twelve territorial health boards, six health and social care partnerships, six national NHS boards, three national social care organisations, and ten programmes and networks are delivering tools through the RDS.

Current developments for Quris and RDS include the integration of decision support into electronic health record systems and the use of AI to speed up guideline development, management and measurement of impact.

Stabilising the NHS – it’s going to take a lot more than AI  

A general election is coming, and Labour is likely to win. At its January meeting, the Highland Marketing advisory board discussed what should be on shadow health and social care secretary Wes Streeting’s agenda for health, care and technology.   

A general election must be held before the end of January next year, and most commentators are expecting prime minister Rishi Sunak to go to the polls after the spring Budget or autumn spending statement. 

Unless the polls are wrong, or there is a dramatic change in UK political fortunes, Labour will come to power whenever the election takes place. That has triggered interest in what shadow health and social care secretary Wes Streeting has been saying about health, care, and technology.  

Streeting has been deliberately ruffling feathers by arguing that “Labour is too nostalgic about the NHS” and the health service needs “reform” more than it needs money (The Sun).  

While it’s not yet clear what “reform” would look like, Labour’s “mission” for government talks about a shift towards prevention, to reduce demand on health and social care, and a shift towards community and social care, to ease pressure on the acute sector and improve access for patients.  

Willing to face up to the task ahead?  

The Highland Marketing advisory board thought this was disappointing and inadequate to the challenge ahead (a week after their debate, a coalition of experts assembled by the BMJ urged the next government to declare the state of the NHS a national emergency).  

“Saying ‘there is no more money’ is not an acceptable message,” entrepreneur Ravi Kumar argued. “There are 1.3 million people working in the NHS, and they all vote, so they need to say they are going to find the money.”   

Back in 1997, New Labour went to the polls warning there were “24 hours to save the NHS.” Even so, it tried to hold the line on Conservative Party funding commitments and installed the very Old Labour Frank Dobson as health secretary to keep the lid on industrial unrest.  

It was forced to change track in 2000, following a winter crisis that unlocked a decade of unprecedented funding increases and The NHS Plan – billed, Wes Streeting might like to note, as ‘a plan for investment: a plan for reform.’   

The money paid for new regulators, hospitals, scanners and IT, and the capacity to drive down waiting lists and times. Admittedly, less progress was made on community and primary care reforms and on public health.  

Today, both need urgent attention and there will be consequences if they don’t get it, ranging from worsening health inequalities, to further council bankruptcies, to even more pressure on the NHS. However, the NHS is not responsible for their organisation or delivery, which falls to councils and the private sector, so there is only so much that NHS policy can achieve.  

“In policy terms, we saw another boost for these ideas in the Five Year Forward View in 2014 and the NHS Long Term Plan in 2019, but not much has come of them,” industry expert David Hancock pointed out. “So, if Labour is going to stick with them, the question has to be: what is different this time?”  

Natasha Phillips, the former national CNIO who has just joined the advisory board (Hospital Hub), hoped that Labour isn’t thinking that another round of reorganisation will do the trick.  

“I think the first ask of any new government is: please do not re-invent the wheel or re-organise,” she said. “There are no perfect structures, and we all know from repeated re-organisations that changing them takes time and distracts from delivery. What we need to do is make the structures that we have work. That means workforce – boots on the ground and the money to pay for them.”  

AI to the rescue!  

Labour’s “mission” also puts a great deal of faith in technology. For example, it flags, the potential of AI and generative AI to read scans and deal with routine administration. Andy Kinnear, a former NHS CIO and consultant, said there is no doubt that both will be used widely in healthcare.  

“Generative AI has gone from ‘that’s an interesting idea’ to reality in less than a year, and it’s going to rip across every area of our lives,” he said. “So, it’s not surprising Labour is talking about this, but there’s a lot we don’t know. Does radiology cease to exist as a profession, because AI can read the scans for us?  

“Do 50,000 nurse vacancies no longer matter, because generative AI can make the workforce so efficient we don’t need those people?” Framed this way, it’s pretty obvious the answer is ‘no.’ So, if AI is going to support, rather than replace, workers and pathways, it’s not going to be a free good.  

As radiology expert Rizwan Malik asked: “If Labour is saying there is no money, where is the money going to come from to do this? Because the NHS is recognised internationally as a leader on AI, but most of the things that have been deployed to date have been funded by the centre. Very little washes its face.  

“If this is going to be rolled out more widely, local organisations are going to need to get business cases together, and it won’t be easy, when you take into account all the costs, including the server-end costs, and the implementation costs, and the change management…”  

To which Natasha Phillips added training and education. “It’s easy for a party to say how much technology they will buy, but it’s not about just buying technology,” she said. “There will need to be investment in the workforce to get the most out of it.”  

Jeremy Nettle, chair of the advisory board, agreed with this. “AI is a tool for clinicians and administrators to use, it is not a replacement for them,” he said. “And for it to be a tool, it needs to be funded. If you are going to use technology, and you want to use it to support a first-class service, there has to be the investment required to make it work.”  

What about the rest of NHS IT?  

It might be easier to make this kind of investment in AI if the rest of NHS IT was prepped and ready. In reality, too many organisations are working with overloaded infrastructure, patchy wi-fi, aging devices, and software systems that don’t integrate with each other – if they exist (fuller discussion, Health Tech World).  

NHS England is running a frontline digitisation programme to try and get all trusts up to a basic level when it comes to electronic patient record capability. But successive cuts to the IT funding announced in the 2021 Budget mean it has been scaled back.  

Trusts hoping to swap their legacy IT for “next generation” systems or to extend their EPR functionality are likely to be disappointed. Even the target to get EPRs into the trusts that don’t have them has been pushed back a year (  

“People are talking about AI as a silver bullet, and we have been down this road before,” said Cindy Fedell, a former NHS CIO who now works in Canada. “You can’t just drive down one road. We have crumbling infrastructure. Some hospitals don’t have EPRs. We need to invest in cyber security. There’s a lot to be done.”  

And why do so many tech plans fail?  

The latest end date for frontline digitisation is March 2026, which is well into the lifespan of the next government. So far, though, Labour has said nothing about the programme. Nor has it said what it will do about other, more recent, national projects, such as the significant investment that has been made in shared care records.  

Yet, David Hancock pointed out, it will either need interoperable systems or something like SCRs if it is serious about integrated care and public health. And, for the moment, it’s SCRs that are the best bet for sharing longitudinal health data with care teams and population health management experts.  

Labour is keen on the NHS App. Its mission says it will become a “one stop shop” for health information, fed by providers but “owned by the patient” to drive more “personalised” care across the system.  

This sounds great, but very similar claims were made for putting patient data and information on “the information superhighway” back in 2000, in private personal health records like Microsoft Health Vault in the Cameron era, and portals today.  

Indeed, some of Labour’s specific promises are less ambitious than previous commitments. For instance, the “mission” says it will use the Digital Transformation Fund to make sure that patients can “see their medical records through the app.”  

When now chancellor and then health secretary Jeremy Hunt was promising patients read-write access as part of his “paperless by 2018” plans (thebmj). The advisory board felt Labour should reflect on why previous efforts to put information into the hands of patients to drive choice, engagement, and better outcomes, have achieved so little.  

The constant reorganisation of ministerial and NHS teams and a lack of regulator and press interest in delivery have played a part. But, James Norman, a former NHS trust CIO who now works on the supplier side, felt the biggest reason is that they have been run as projects separate to day to day working.  

“Any government that comes in this year will need to recognise that the first thing the NHS needs is to return to stability,” he said. “You can’t just talk about technology and expect it to deliver that. In fact, if you don’t do it right, you’re just going to add cost and complexity. It becomes another tick-box exercise, instead of a whole system change.”  

No avoiding the need for leadership – and money  

The advisory board felt that getting into fundamentals of system-change will require leadership from politicians, clinicians, and NHS managers. Which is hard to deliver when the political cycle is five-years and NHS leaders make their careers in the acute sector.  

However, if Labour is going to get serious about the NHS, it will have to get into it. And find the money. Ravi Kumar said: “If there is a message for politicians, it is that they can shift the current dynamic, but to do it, they need to find the money. Any government can find money, if it wants. They found it during Covid. They can find it for wars. It’s a choice.”  

Enterprises’ Lack of Strong Data Foundation Hinders Wide-Scale GenAI Adoption

Syniti and HFS Research report shares insights on how to increase data quality and reliability to help unleash full potential of GenAI

Syniti, a global leader in enterprise data management, today announced the results of a study developed with HFS Research to help organisations understand the value they can derive from their generative AI (GenAI) investments. The paper, titled “Don’t let your GenAI project fail before it begins,” provides four guidelines for how organisations can take a Data First approach to achieve better business outcomes, with input from real-world use cases.

While AI has been around for decades, generative AI solutions like ChatGPT have made this technology more accessible than ever before. ChatGPT has seen lightning-fast adoption, racking up 100 million monthly active users in its first two months, making it the fastest-growing consumer app ever. Since then, businesses have raced to adopt GenAI to glean its many advantages. However, organisations are quickly finding their data isn’t ready to reap the value due to lack of data quality and management. In fact, recent HFS research shows that one-third of executives believe less than half of their organisation’s data is actually consumable―highlighting just how many organisations aren’t ready for GenAI.

An improper data foundation can lead to real-world business consequences outside of just poor data quality outputs. If bias exists within the data fed into models, such as gender or racial bias, that bias can be quickly replicated at scale within an organisation. This could cause reputational damage, have regulatory implications, and concern investors. Syniti supports enterprises with a Data First approach, helping to ensure the right infrastructure is in place to break down silos and deliver trusted, usable data to fuel GenAI models.

Naveen Gupta, global data leader, IKEA, said: “The biggest challenge we’re facing in IKEA is having data management practices in place. We don’t have practices for data cleansing, strategy and governance. We need all of that to make sure GenAI is a success.”

Phil Fersht, CEO & chief analyst, HFS Research, said, “Data quality is the cornerstone of any successful AI initiative, particularly in the realm of generative AI. Our joint report with Syniti sheds light on a critical issue facing organisations today: the inadequacy of their data foundation. Without robust data management practices in place, the full potential of GenAI remains out of reach. It’s imperative for businesses to prioritise data quality and reliability to unlock the transformative power of AI.”

Kevin Campbell, CEO, Syniti, said: “GenAI’s potential can’t be overstated, but companies need to approach this technology with the wisdom and respect it deserves. Data quality is critical to all business transformation, including successful use of Generative AI, and it’s shocking how many organisations still don’t properly prepare their data ahead of these initiatives. Companies have a long way to go in terms of data quality and management, but a Data First approach will set organisations up for success.”

SHIMPAC® | Enhancing Roadworker Safety: Easy-to-Install Solutions for Long-Term Performance

Roadwork projects play a vital role in maintaining and improving our infrastructure. However, the safety of roadworkers is often compromised due to the inherent risks associated with working in close proximity to moving vehicles. However, this isn’t the only very real threat to operative safety.

In recent years, there has been a growing concern about the abuse faced by roadworkers from the public. To address these issues, it is crucial to implement easy-to-install solutions that not only enhance road safety but also reduce the exposure of roadworkers to potential harm.

Improved efficiency in these areas ultimately reduces frustration among drivers, decreasing the likelihood of abusive behaviours.

Reducing Exposure

There is only so much control contractors and authorities can assert over the public, and so focusing on overall level of exposure could be the real key. We hear about the danger of the people-plant interface on highways sites, but could it now be time to look at how we reduce the people-people interface?

The less time roadworkers spend on site, the less exposed they are to the public. It’s very simple; By implementing easy-to-install solutions with long-term performance capabilities, roadworker safety is inherently enhanced.

This decrease in exposure helps create a safer working environment and promotes better overall well-being for roadworkers.

The Importance of Easy-to-Install Solutions

When it comes to protecting roadworkers, time is of the essence. The installation process for products should be as quick and hassle-free as possible. Easy-to-install solutions significantly reduce the time spent on-site for operatives, minimising their exposure to the public. By streamlining the installation process, roadworkers can focus more on their primary tasks, ensuring efficiency while reducing the potential for accidents and abuse.

The Role of Performance and Usability

While quick installation is essential, it can’t be at the cost of an effective solution. It is important to consider the long-term performance of safety solutions from an asset life cycle perspective, protecting budgets with decreased repair costs.

Long-Term Performance

However, products that require frequent maintenance, repairs, or replacement can lead to increased exposure for roadworkers. At this point, the risk of abuse returns. The more frequently a solution fails, the more potential for operatives to face abuse during repairs.

Although not all products directly address roadworker abuse, their performance, efficiency, and usability can indirectly contribute positively. Opting for high-quality, durable solutions can help minimise these risks and provide sustained protection over an extended period.

Ironwork: The solution

SHIMPAC®’s Roadshims, a pioneering solution for ironwork seating, has been specifically developed with the factors of efficient installation, durability, and longevity in mind. Recognising the broader impact of these benefits on the safety and wellbeing of roadworkers, SHIMPAC® is dedicated to delivering enhanced protection against potential abuse throughout the UK.

SHIMPAC® understands that the significance of its products goes beyond its technical features. By providing roadworkers with reliable and robust solutions, SHIMPAC® products contribute to creating a safer working environment. When roadworkers can increase overall efficiency of roadwork projects, it leads to smoother traffic flow and reduced frustration among drivers. Consequently, this decreases the likelihood of abusive behaviours directed towards roadworkers, ensuring their wellbeing and fostering a more harmonious relationship between roadworkers and the public.

Quality & correct training means installations are quicker and cause less disruption, and in turn leads to right-first-time installations. This in turn leads to reduced need for more frequent repair. Reducing the people-people interface.

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