FSB Raises Concern Over Small Business Community’s Readiness for GDPR

With less than a month to go until the new data protection laws, commonly referred to as GDPR, come into force, research shows that many small businesses are still in the dark when it comes to the impact the changes will have on their business.

Research by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) found that around two thirds (68%) of small businesses had either not started or were only in the initial stages of GDPR preparation.

The FSB is warning that many small firms may not be compliant ahead of the May deadline and is calling on the Information Commissioners’ Office (ICO) to take an understanding approach to enforcement ensuring that small businesses have time to get GDPR ready.

The FSB National Chairman, Mike Cherry, said: “As the GDPR deadline swiftly approaches, there is a real danger that many small businesses are yet to have adequately prepared for the changes.  Fortunately, for these businesses, there is still time on the clock to start, or finish, their preparations.“The GDPR is the largest shake-up of data protection laws for years, and whether you are a personal trainer or a consultant, most businesses will have to implement changes to their current practices to make sure they are complying with the new rules.

“Given the extent and the breadth of the changes, it is clear that a majority of small businesses will not be fully compliant before May 25 and will most likely not be compliant when the changes hit. With this in mind, it is critical that the ICO manages non-compliance in a light touch manner with the focus being on education and support, not punishment.”

Mike Cherry, said: “As we move closer to the 25th May, we can expect a rush of smaller businesses approaching the ICO for support and advice. When this hits, all eyes will be on the ICO and whether or not they have the ability and resources to effectively deal with these enquiries. We cannot have a situation where businesses are taking time out of their busy day to get GDPR compliant and are left hanging on the line.”

Speaking on Radio 4 the ICO confirmed that their approach will be one of support in the early days, particularly in relation to smaller businesses who can demonstrate they have tried to be compliant, even if they have actually misunderstood the implications of the changes on their business.  Advice will be issued rather than fines in the first instance, with time allowed for businesses to become compliant.

 

The ICO’s website contains lots of advice and guidance for businesses of all sizes and types on managing the transition and becoming compliant – click here to visit the ICO today.

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CQC Cancels Kent GP’s Registration

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has taken action to protect the safety and welfare of people by cancelling the registration of a GP in Chatham, Kent following serious concerns about patient safety at the practice.

The CQC’s decision to cancel the registration means that Dr Stephen Lawrence can no longer legally provide primary medical services at the practice in St Mary’s Island, Chatham, Kent. However, on 20 February 2018 a new provider was registered with the Care Quality Commission to provide general practice services from the St Mary’s Island Surgery site. CQC, NHS Medway Clinical Commissioning Group and NHS England have worked together to restore patient safety since they became aware of the situation with Dr Lawrence.

Inspectors took the action regarding Dr Lawrence because they had serious concerns about the service and the risks to people using it.

The CQC first inspected St Mary’s Island Surgery in December 2015 and rated the practice as ‘inadequate’ overall.  As a result the practice was placed in special measures.  The CQC inspected again in September 2016 and took the practice out of Special Measures as a result of the improvements the practice had made and rated it ‘‘good’ overall and for each of CQC’s key questions.

A further unannounced comprehensive inspection took place in January 2018, which was carried out in response to concerns that had been raised to CQC.  The CQC found the concerns were such that on the 29 January 2018 immediate conditions were imposed on the Dr Lawrence’s registration with the Care Quality Commission.

Key Concerns

  • Systems to safeguard children from abuse were not effective.
  • There were no administration/reception staff working at the practice.  Temporary reception staff, who had come from other practices to help, had not had an induction.
  • Correspondence was not dealt with in a timely manner, large quantities of correspondence were awaiting inputting onto patients’ records.
  • Medicine management was unsafe. Emergency medicines were out of date. The oxygen cylinder was empty.
  • Significant events had not been reported.  The practice did not have an effective system for receiving and acting on safety alerts.
  • GPs did not have access to the proper information technology tools to help make the best decisions for their patients’ treatment and care.
  • Patient care was not well co-ordinated, including end of life care.
  • Patients’ records and the coding of patients’ records were not up to date so staff were not always able to identify patients’ conditions and meet their needs.
  • Patients were not referred to secondary care, nor were referrals from secondary care, dealt with in a timely manner.
  • There were failings in the practice’s compliance with the Data Protection Act 1998.
  • Care and treatment for patients with multiple long-term conditions and patients approaching the end of life was not always coordinated with other
    services.
  • Patients did not always receive care and treatment from the practice within an acceptable timescale for their needs.
  • Some complaints from patients were not acknowledged.
  • Governance arrangements were insufficient, ineffectively implemented and were compounded by the regular absence of the GP.
  • Significant issues that threatened the delivery of safe care were not identified or adequately managed.
  • There had been no recent staff meetings and there were no patient participation groups.
  • There was no evidence of systems and processes for learning, continuous improvement and innovation within the practice.

CQC’s Deputy Chief Inspector of General Practice, Ruth Rankine, said:  “Enforcement action to close a service is not something that the CQC takes lightly. Where we find that patients are at significant risk, as we did in this case, we have no choice but to work with our partner agencies in order to take action to protect the safety and welfare of the public.”

“In this instance, given the seriousness of what we found on inspection, we are confident we took the right decision to protect people. When necessary, we will use our powers to do what it takes to make sure patients and the public are protected.”

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Charles Lea and the Arts Council Supporting Budding Writers In Trafford

 A series of free creative writing courses are set to start at libraries across Trafford next week.

The Write Time, Write Place project is an eight-week long, adult creative writing courses for beginners, taking place in libraries from April to June.

The 90-minute sessions will take place during the day and will focus on areas that include:

  • inspiration
  • characterisation
  • settings
  • plotting stories
  • revising and editing

The courses are the brainchild of author Charles Lea,who said: “We are delighted that Trafford Libraries have been successful in obtaining funding from the Arts Council and look forward to running the workshops with adults across the borough to inspire their creative writing.

“Feedback from the new writers on the previous courses has been absolutely positive with many not only enjoying the writing aspect, but also commenting on how well the course has boosted their health and wellbeing and confidence.

“The real legacy is that many of these new writers are still meeting up and writing.”

Following on from the workshops, participants will be invited to submit their stories for a Write Time Write Place anthology, which will be professionally published. Participants will also be given the opportunity to read extracts from their stories at a special celebratory event.

Book by email: Charles@readnowwritenow.org.uk, or by phoning/emailing the appropriate library.

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CQC Takes GP Practice Out of Special Measures Following Introduction of Robust Governance

Wensum Valley Medical Practice in West Earlham, Norwich was given an overall rating of Inadequate by the CQC in July 2017 and placed into special measures after concerns were raised with regard to the leadership and safety of the practice.

The latest inspection which took place in March 2018 concluded the practice had addressed all areas of concern. It has now been awarded an overall rating of Good across all five areas for being safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led.

Inspectors found that since the original inspection the practice had taken significant steps to improve leadership, with a focus on improving the quality and safety of its services to patients.

Examples of key findings and improvements, included:

  • Clinical leadership has improved, all partners have been involved and practice staff told inspectors that they had been included in the development of the action plan and changes that were made.
  • The process to manage medicines prescribed to patients has improved. A fully electronic system giving a clear audit trail of changes and clinical oversight has been implemented.
  • The practice has been proactive since the previous inspection and has provided staff with ongoing support. This included an induction process, one-to-one meetings, appraisals, coaching and mentoring, clinical supervision and support for revalidation.
  • The process to manage medicines prescribed to patients has been improved.  A fully electronic system giving a clear audit trail of changes and clinical oversight has been implemented.
  • Practice staff told inspectors that the improvements made following the previous inspection had been successful.  They said they felt they were undertaking their work in a safer and more organised manner.

Professor Steve Field, Chief Inspector of General Practice, said “During the latest inspection we found the provider had significantly strengthened their leadership and management and had taken a proactive team approach towards making and sustaining improvements in quality.

“The practice now has a clear vision and strategy to deliver high-quality care and promote good outcomes for patients. Practice staff were clear about the vision and their responsibilities in relation to it.

“We saw that practice staff worked together as a cohesive team and treated patients with kindness and respect, and maintained patient and information confidentiality.

“It is clear that the practice took our findings seriously, seeking external advice to help it improve and working hard to implement the necessary changes. All of the staff should be extremely proud of what they have achieved and I applaud the dedication and commitment they have shown to improving the care of their patients.”

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Student Loan Repayment Threshold Has Risen to £25k

Hundreds of thousands of graduates will save up to £360 a year from the raising of the student loan repayment threshold which came into effect on the 6th April.

Around 600,000 university leavers will benefit from the change, which means borrowers who have taken out loans since 2012 will not begin paying back their loans until they earn £25,000 a year – up from £21,000.

It will result in savings of up to £360 a year for anyone earning over £21,000, with those earning less than £25,000 paying nothing at all.

Graduates earning over the new £25,000 threshold are set to benefit too, with lower payments compared to before, for example:

  • £25,000 per year repays £0 per month instead of £30
  • £27,000 per year repays £15 per month instead of £45
  • £30,000 per year repays £37 per month instead of £67
  • £33,000 per year repays £60 per month instead of £90
  • £35,000 per year repays £75 per month instead of £105
  • £40,000 per year repays £112 per month instead of £142

The increased repayment threshold applies to any student who has taken out a post-2012 undergraduate student loan or Advanced Learner Loan.

Graduates living in the UK will not be required to take action in order to receive the saving. Repayments will be calculated automatically by employers (for those paid through PAYE) or as part of the Self-Assessment return to HMRC.

Full-time students are not required to begin repaying their loans until the April after graduation.

Martin Lewis has written an in-depth piece about the change in threshold on Money Saving Expert.com

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CQC Announces its Regulatory Fees for Providers for 2018/19

The CQC has announced 2018/19 fee levels for providers of health and adult social care services.

These proposals affected NHS trusts, NHS GPs and community social care providers.

Over the last few years, the rate at which CQC fees are subsidised by government grants has been reducing.  There is no longer any subsidy and fees are now fully chargeable for most providers.

The CQC consulted on their fees structure and sought to make sure that the fees capture current developments within each sector.

Following consideration of the responses, 2018/19 fee structure has been released.  The only sector that will see an overall increase in fees is the community social care sector, as it moves to full chargeable cost recovery.

Examples of the fee changes that community social care providers, NHS trusts and NHS GPs can expect include:

  • A community social care provider with 1 location and 15 service users will see their fee decrease from £2,192 to £926
  • A community social care provider with 3 locations and 50, 100 and 45 service users at each of the locations will see their fee increase from £6,093 to £9,643
  • An NHS trust with a turnover of £120 million will see their fee decrease from £158,902 to £85,200
  • An NHS trust with a turnover of £681 million will see their fee increase from £322,249 to £483,510
  • An NHS GP provider with 1 location and a patient list size of 5,200 will see their fee decrease from £4,526 to £3,473
  • An NHS GP provider with 2 locations and patient list sizes of 10,000 and 8,300 at each of the locations will see their fee increase from £8,371 to £11,449.

For all other sectors the fee scheme remains unchanged, which means a provider’s fee will remain the same as that for 2017/18, providing their registration remains unchanged.

You can find the annual fee for your service for 2018/19 using the fees calculator published on the CQC’s website.

You can also find guidance on how and when to pay your fees, including information on paying by instalment.

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Victory for SMEs Fighting the Staircase Tax

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid introduced new legislation this week that will reverse the impact of a ‘staircase tax’, which has unfairly affected up to a thousand businesses.

An earlier Supreme Court judgment saw hundreds of businesses that operate in adjoining units or rooms, but are accessed from a common corridor or staircase, receiving separate rate bills for each unit.  The ruling also saw businesses facing higher rate bills, with some paying more due to the loss of small business rate relief.

The introduction of the Bill means these firms will be able to choose to have their rates recalculated under the old single bill system and any savings due backdated.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said “For years firms in adjoining units or rooms rightly received one rates bill, but this court ruling meant they faced multiple bills for operating in an office linked by a communal lift or stairs.

 

This was a completely unreasonable burden on businesses which this legislation will put a stop to.

We’re giving those businesses affected the option of getting their rates bills recalculated and any savings due backdated.”

 

Subject to Parliamentary approval of the Bill, those businesses who have been directly impacted by the Supreme Court judgement can ask the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) to recalculate valuations based on previous practice.

It can then have its bill recalculated if it chooses, and backdated. This includes those firms who lost small business rate relief.

 

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Adult Social Care Spending Could Amount to Half of All Revenue From Local Taxes by 2035

A new Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) report, Adult social care funding: a local or national responsibility?, funded by the Health Foundation, argues that ongoing reforms to local government finance risk creating a growing funding gap for adult social care and conflict with efforts to provide high-quality care services across the country.

The government plans to abolish general grant funding for councils from 2020, meaning councils will depend on council tax and business rates for the vast majority of their general funding. But revenues from these taxes are unlikely to keep pace with the rising costs of adult social care services, leaving councils with increasingly tough choices about which services to prioritise.

The report identifies the following challenges:

  • Even if council tax revenues increased by 4.5% a year – more than double the rate of projected inflation – adult social care spending could amount to half of all revenue from local taxes by 2035. That is up from just 30% today.
  • If councils did meet these costs from their local tax revenues, the amount left over for other services – including children’s services, housing, economic development and bin collection – would fall in real terms (by 0.3% a year, on average).  In other words, decades more austerity for services that have often already seen cuts of 20% or more since 2010.
  • Even if larger tax revenue increases could be delivered, or growth in the cost of adult social care constrained, ongoing changes to the way local government finance is allocated mean that different councils could find themselves with revenues that differ significantly from their spending needs. This is because there is now less redistribution between councils as spending needs and local tax revenues change over time.

If councils’ relative spending needs and their shares of revenues are moving differently, delivering consistent access to and quality of social care across England could be difficult.  Either the social care services you can access could become increasingly dependent on where you live.  Or the money councils have for other things could bear the brunt of adjustments, impacting access to children’s services, public health services, housing services and bin collection.

The report concludes that there is no easy way to square this circle without backtracking on reforms to local government finance and reintroducing general grant funding.

“With increasing demand and costs, council tax and business rates revenues are very unlikely to be enough for councils to fund both adult social care services and the other services they are expected to provide,” said David Phillips, associate director at IFS and an author of the report. “At the very least, the government will have to provide an increasingly large top-up via the Improved Better Care Fund or similar ring-fenced grants. Alternatively, it could decide to keep and, over time, increase the general grant funding for councils that it currently plans to abolish in 2020. More radically, it could devolve revenues from other more buoyant taxes, such as income tax, to councils to help fund local services.”

“The government has to decide whether it thinks adult social care is ultimately a local responsibility, where councils can offer different levels of service, or a national responsibility with common standards across England,” said Polly Simpson, research economist at IFS and another author of the report. “If it opts for the latter, it cannot expect a consistent service to be funded by councils’ revenues, which are increasingly linked to local capacity to generate council tax and business rates revenues. In that case, centralised funding for social care would seem more appropriate, and could allow closer integration with the NHS, which is also centrally funded. But it would make England even more centralised than now, and go against the government’s devolution agenda. All in all, a difficult circle to square.”

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EFG Short Story Award Shortlist Announced

This year’s Sunday Times/EFG Short Story Award shortlist includes six Americans, five of them women, making it the first time the international prize has had an all-American shortlist and only the second time that women have featured so heavily on the list.

Now in its ninth year, the Prize retains its reputation for thought-provoking themes. The stories in this year’s shortlist tackle the subjects of pornography, the abuse of power and Trumpism. In Miranda July’s story, The Metal Bowl, a woman’s inner life is animated by the memory of an amateur poronographic shoot she did in her youth, while Courtney Zoffness’s story explores the relationship between a high school student and her over-attentive tutor who is arrested for sexual predation. In Victor Lodato’s Herman Melville, Volume 1, a young homeless woman must fend for herself in a small Oregon town, while Allegra Goodman’s story F.A.Q.s explores the ambivalence and longing that college-aged children feel towards their parents. Curtis Sittenfeld’s story, Do-Over, describes the moment two old classmates meet shortly after the presidential election of Donald Trump, while Molly McCloskey’s story Life on Earth, set in Washington DC, tells the story of a brief affair between two people at opposite ends of the jostling political spectrum.

The Award accepts entries of 6,000 words or under, published in English, from fiction authors from anywhere in the world who have been published in the UK or Ireland.

The Award reflects The Sunday Times’ support for outstanding writing and the rich literary heritage of the newspaper, and the ongoing commitment of EFG, a leading international private bank, to the literary world.

The prize is managed by the Society of Authors and the 6 shortlisted writers and their entries are:

  • F.A.Q’s by Allegra Goodman
  • Herman Melville, Volume 1 by Victor Lodato
  • The Metal Bowl by Miranda July
  • Do-Over by Curtis Sittenfeld
  • Life on Earth by Molly McCloskey
  • Peanuts Aren’t Nuts by Courtney Zoffness

The winner will receive £30,000 and their five fellow shortlistees will each receive £1,000. The winner will be announced at a gala dinner hosted by EFG at Stationers’ Hall in London on Thursday 26 April. Read the shortlisted stories.

This year’s judges are Sebastian Faulks, Petina Gappah, Mark Lawson, Tessa Hadley and Andrew Holgate, Literary Editor of The Sunday Times.

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Work Underway in Coventry to Join Up Health and Social Care Services Reviewed by CQC

The Care Quality Commission has published its findings following a review of health and social care services in Coventry.

The report is one of 20 targeted local system reviews looking specifically at how older people move through the health and social care system, with a focus on how services work together.  The reviews look at how hospitals, community health services, GP practices, care homes and homecare agencies work together to provide seamless care for people aged 65 and over living in a local area.

The CQC found there was a system-wide commitment to serving the people of Coventry well.  Coventry was at the beginning of its journey in ensuring all services worked well in a ‘joined up way’ together.

However, the review also highlighted some areas where further work is needed to ensure all those responsible for providing health and social care services work effectively together:

  • There needs to be effective joint strategic planning and delivery for the people of Coventry based on the current and predicted needs of the older population, to include British Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) and hard to reach groups.
  • System-wide performance data must be used to drive improvements, implement solutions and set targets in which all parts of the system have a shared responsibility, and provide opportunities for collaborative reflection and learning.
  • While acknowledging that there is an alliance between Coventry Health and Wellbeing (HWB) and Warwickshire HWB, the system leaders in Coventry need to build on this and become more engaged with the development of the STP’s ‘Better Care, Better Health, Better Value’ programme.
  • A strategic plan for the health and social care workforce in Coventry, linked to the STP’s wider ‘Better Care, Better Health, Better Value’ programme workforce plan, needs to be delivered.
  • A joint public engagement strategy needs to be created and delivered to include how the system will reach seldom heard groups.
  • A single point of access health and social care navigation system for people and carers to easily find the support and advice they need should be provided.
  • Numbers of avoidable admissions from care homes need to be reduced by extending successful initiatives such as the ‘React to Red’ scheme, introducing pharmacist led medication reviews and increasing coverage of GP input into care homes.
  • The system should develop a shared view of risk across health and social care by identifying forums where staff groups can come together, build relationships and identify ways to establish a consistent approach to the process of risk assessment and positive risk taking.
  • Discharge planning needs to consistently start at the beginning of a person’s journey through hospital and remain a key focus during their stay.  Care home and home care providers should be involved in discharge planning at an early stage of a person’s stay in hospital.
  • Improvements are needed around medicines on discharge processes to reduce delays and improve the safety of those who have been discharged to care homes.
  • Improvements in the ability to discharge patients from hospital at weekends by increasing senior clinical decision makers and supply the support needed for care homes to accept weekend discharges for new residents are needed.
  • The speed of transfers from hospital to care homes needs increasing, by increasing care home providers’ confidence in assessments.
  • Improvements in the working relationships between the CCG and GPs are required.

Professor Steve Field, Chief Inspector of Primary Medical Services and Integrated Care, said “Staff at the front line of services were committed to providing high quality, person-centred care and we saw good examples of multidisciplinary working.”

“There are, however, areas where improvements are needed to ensure people receive the best all round care through the health and social care system in Coventry. We found there was a reliance on ensuring services worked together in a joined up way taking place organically and a lack of pace and shared strategic approach in achieving this.”

“In the past there had been some challenging relationships and silo working, but these were improving and relationships across the system were, for the most part, positive.”

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