LATEST ARTICLES
CV
Prison collapse typifies age of austerity 18 September 2020 The slow-motion collapse of England and Wales’ prison system is a textbook example of the government’s repeated public service failures in the age of austerity. The mismanagement of the prison estate, exposed in a scathing report from the Commons public accounts committee, is a carbon copy of ministers’ numerous other foul-ups over the past decade. There are starring roles for inadequate funding and disastrous use of private contractors, with supporting parts for squandering money by aiming for unachievable savings, raiding capital budgets to prop up running costs, making big promises with no credible delivery plan, and failing to join up policy. Inevitably, it is all followed by yet more delusional promises of future delivery and the piecemeal populism of ever-longer sentences. Prisons are the responsibility of HM Prison & Probation Service, an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). Its declared aim is to ensure they are decent, safe and productive places to live and work. But the last annual report from HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for England and Wales said living conditions for most prisoners were inadequate and some were squalid, including cramped, bloodstained, flooded and filthy cells, rat, flea and cockroach infestations, and broken windows. Read the full article at Guardian Society __________________________________________________________________ Hancock never stops to count the cost 21 August 2020 Borne on the tidal wave of his self-confidence, Matt Hancock crashes from one unforced error to the next, never troubling himself to pause to count the financial and human cost. His latest masterstroke is to abolish the country’s public health agency in the middle of a pandemic. The National Institute for Health Protection announced by the health and social care secretary this week brings together the health protection parts of Public Health England (PHE) with NHS test and trace and the Joint Biosecurity Centre. It will focus on external health threats, especially pandemics. Everyone who works in the UK public sector knows that endlessly demolishing and rebuilding its structures undermines morale, wastes time and money, haemorrhages expertise and experience, and rarely solves problems. Establishing this new organisation piles risk upon risk as we head into a dangerous winter. It bolts together a privatised, poorly performing test and trace system, a biosecurity centre that barely exists, and PHE staff cut adrift with no clear idea of their future, all under a temporary leadership. But none of this troubles Hancock. Read the full article at Guardian Society __________________________________________________________________ Failed ministers want even more control 24 July 2020 As the UK begins to pick through the economic, social and personal wreckage of our failed response to coronavirus, two competing visions for the future are emerging: centralise, control and privatise, or localise and disperse. Both Downing Street and the health and social care secretary, Matt Hancock, with an eye on the forthcoming public inquiry, have convinced themselves that the weaknesses exposed by our pandemic response were the result of too little power at the centre. Hancock expresses frustration that when he pulled on the Public Health England lever there wasn’t much attached to it, while both he and Boris Johnson are railing against their lack of direct control over NHS England and its chief executive, Simon Stevens. Ever the shrewd political operator, Stevens has extracted huge amounts of additional funding from the Treasury while keeping a low media profile. But Hancock was the fundamental cause of the poor public health response. Ignoring desperate pleas from local government public health directors to be given a leading role in tackling the pandemic, particularly around testing and contact tracing, the government has instead used the private sector to build new infrastructure such as the testing centres and lighthouse labs from scratch, disconnected from councils and the NHS. Read the full article at Guardian Society __________________________________________________________________ Men’s attitudes caused mesh scandal 10 July 2020 Julia Cumberlege’s report into avoidable harm inflicted by the healthcare system exposes an institutional inability to listen to patients in general and women in particular. Her investigation into decades of failure batters the reputation of the NHS, professional bodies, regulators, manufacturers, private providers and policymakers. Established by the then health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, in 2018 to examine how the healthcare system in England responds to reports about harmful side-effects for medicines and medical devices, it examined three notorious cases of treatments taken by women: hormone pregnancy tests associated with birth defects and finally withdrawn in the 1970s; the anti-epileptic drug sodium valproate, which can harm children during pregnancy; and vaginal mesh implants, a cause of crippling, life-changing complications and unbearable pain. The review only came about because of decades of relentless campaigning by patient groups. The story Lady Cumberlege uncovers is not of rogue actors or localised problems but systemic, endemic failure to listen to, or respond to the needs of, patients. After speaking to hundreds of women, a pattern emerged of not being empowered to make informed choices, not being heard, not being believed by arrogant, intimidating doctors, a lack of understanding of women’s health and feeling abandoned. Read the full article at Guardian Society __________________________________________________________________ What is the Joint Biosecurity Centre? 2 July 2020

What is it?

The Joint Biosecurity Centre brings together data analysis and epidemiological expertise to ensure covid-19 outbreaks are detected and brought under control quickly.

What will it do?

It will provide independent, real time national and local analysis of infections, and will advise the government on how to respond to infection spikes, such as by closing workplaces. It will also look for clusters associated with particular parts of the economy, such as pubs. It will build on the UK’s public health infrastructure and surveillance network—including the NHS Test and Trace programme, Public Health England, the devolved public health agencies, and researchers—to understand the covid-19 threat at any given time. It is primarily for England; its relationship with the devolved administrations has not been agreed. It is modelled on the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre, established in 2003, which advises the government on the appropriate terrorism threat level. A key role of the Joint Biosecurity Centre will be advising the chief medical officers across the UK on the appropriate covid-19 alert level. Read the full article at BMJ __________________________________________________________________
Public Policy Media Richard Vize
July to September 2020
Public Policy Media Richard Vize
LATEST ARTICLES
CV
Prison collapse typifies age of austerity 18 September 2020 The slow-motion collapse of England and Wales’ prison system is a textbook example of the government’s repeated public service failures in the age of austerity. The mismanagement of the prison estate, exposed in a scathing report from the Commons public accounts committee, is a carbon copy of ministers’ numerous other foul-ups over the past decade. There are starring roles for inadequate funding and disastrous use of private contractors, with supporting parts for squandering money by aiming for unachievable savings, raiding capital budgets to prop up running costs, making big promises with no credible delivery plan, and failing to join up policy. Inevitably, it is all followed by yet more delusional promises of future delivery and the piecemeal populism of ever-longer sentences. Prisons are the responsibility of HM Prison & Probation Service, an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). Its declared aim is to ensure they are decent, safe and productive places to live and work. But the last annual report from HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for England and Wales said living conditions for most prisoners were inadequate and some were squalid, including cramped, bloodstained, flooded and filthy cells, rat, flea and cockroach infestations, and broken windows. Read the full article at Guardian Society __________________________________________________________________ Hancock never stops to count the cost 21 August 2020 Borne on the tidal wave of his self-confidence, Matt Hancock crashes from one unforced error to the next, never troubling himself to pause to count the financial and human cost. His latest masterstroke is to abolish the country’s public health agency in the middle of a pandemic. The National Institute for Health Protection announced by the health and social care secretary this week brings together the health protection parts of Public Health England (PHE) with NHS test and trace and the Joint Biosecurity Centre. It will focus on external health threats, especially pandemics. Everyone who works in the UK public sector knows that endlessly demolishing and rebuilding its structures undermines morale, wastes time and money, haemorrhages expertise and experience, and rarely solves problems. Establishing this new organisation piles risk upon risk as we head into a dangerous winter. It bolts together a privatised, poorly performing test and trace system, a biosecurity centre that barely exists, and PHE staff cut adrift with no clear idea of their future, all under a temporary leadership. But none of this troubles Hancock. Read the full article at Guardian Society __________________________________________________________________ Failed ministers want even more control 24 July 2020 As the UK begins to pick through the economic, social and personal wreckage of our failed response to coronavirus, two competing visions for the future are emerging: centralise, control and privatise, or localise and disperse. Both Downing Street and the health and social care secretary, Matt Hancock, with an eye on the forthcoming public inquiry, have convinced themselves that the weaknesses exposed by our pandemic response were the result of too little power at the centre. Hancock expresses frustration that when he pulled on the Public Health England lever there wasn’t much attached to it, while both he and Boris Johnson are railing against their lack of direct control over NHS England and its chief executive, Simon Stevens. Ever the shrewd political operator, Stevens has extracted huge amounts of additional funding from the Treasury while keeping a low media profile. But Hancock was the fundamental cause of the poor public health response. Ignoring desperate pleas from local government public health directors to be given a leading role in tackling the pandemic, particularly around testing and contact tracing, the government has instead used the private sector to build new infrastructure such as the testing centres and lighthouse labs from scratch, disconnected from councils and the NHS. Read the full article at Guardian Society __________________________________________________________________ Men’s attitudes caused mesh scandal 10 July 2020 Julia Cumberlege’s report into avoidable harm inflicted by the healthcare system exposes an institutional inability to listen to patients in general and women in particular. Her investigation into decades of failure batters the reputation of the NHS, professional bodies, regulators, manufacturers, private providers and policymakers. Established by the then health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, in 2018 to examine how the healthcare system in England responds to reports about harmful side-effects for medicines and medical devices, it examined three notorious cases of treatments taken by women: hormone pregnancy tests associated with birth defects and finally withdrawn in the 1970s; the anti- epileptic drug sodium valproate, which can harm children during pregnancy; and vaginal mesh implants, a cause of crippling, life-changing complications and unbearable pain. The review only came about because of decades of relentless campaigning by patient groups. The story Lady Cumberlege uncovers is not of rogue actors or localised problems but systemic, endemic failure to listen to, or respond to the needs of, patients. After speaking to hundreds of women, a pattern emerged of not being empowered to make informed choices, not being heard, not being believed by arrogant, intimidating doctors, a lack of understanding of women’s health and feeling abandoned. Read the full article at Guardian Society __________________________________________________________________ What is the Joint Biosecurity Centre? 2 July 2020

What is it?

The Joint Biosecurity Centre brings together data analysis and epidemiological expertise to ensure covid-19 outbreaks are detected and brought under control quickly.

What will it do?

It will provide independent, real time national and local analysis of infections, and will advise the government on how to respond to infection spikes, such as by closing workplaces. It will also look for clusters associated with particular parts of the economy, such as pubs. It will build on the UK’s public health infrastructure and surveillance network—including the NHS Test and Trace programme, Public Health England, the devolved public health agencies, and researchers—to understand the covid-19 threat at any given time. It is primarily for England; its relationship with the devolved administrations has not been agreed. It is modelled on the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre, established in 2003, which advises the government on the appropriate terrorism threat level. A key role of the Joint Biosecurity Centre will be advising the chief medical officers across the UK on the appropriate covid-19 alert level. Read the full article at BMJ __________________________________________________________________