To monitor news on councils, you need Council News Monitor

Any chunk of text that includes ‘delighted’ or ‘excited’ in the first sentence looks like a dull press release. So how about this: I am chuffed to announce the commercial launch of the first service from Public Service Intelligence Limited, a joint-venture between myself and Boilerhouse Media, a marketing communications consultancy.

The service in question, Council News Monitor, is an email sent first thing each workday with news on local authorities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and every region of England in every edition. For the last few weeks, we have been sending it on a free trial basis.

But now, we are opening Council News Monitor to subscriptions, at just £2 a month (£24 a year… I understand it’s compulsory for all prices to have the word ‘just’ in front of them). There’s more information here, on our stylish new website with its extraordinarily short domain name. You can also follow @CouncilNewsUK for a selection of stories every day. Continue reading

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Treating cancer with genomics data for ComputerWeekly.com

I have written an article for ComputerWeekly.com on how big data and genomics are combining to treat cancer, specifically by using the DNA of cancerous cells to help choose which medicines and treatments to use for a patient. Stratified medicine (using different treatments depending on the patient, rather than just the type and stage of cancer) is already a reality, particularly for breast cancer.

But a major trial offering a range of new treatments for advanced lung cancer – the National Lung Matrix Trial run by Cancer Research UK, NHS trusts and drug companies – looks set to take this concept significantly further. Continue reading

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If you want to monitor local authorities, we’ll ask the locals for you

Local authorities matter. They provide many of the most basic public services: schools, roads, refuse collections and recycling, social services, planning and benefits administration. They are the part of government you would notice first, if they stopped working. In many areas of Britain, a council is the largest employer, and with their elected members, local authorities are arguably the most democratic type of public sector organisation.

But they are tricky to follow. Journalists trying to cover councils nationally suffer from being based mainly in one place, London, from lack of resources and from the sheer number of authorities.

The exceptions are journalists who work for locally-focused publishers. Despite falling advertising and circulation income, it is still local and regional newspapers, broadcasters and online publishers that produce the best coverage of local authorities.

As a result, while it is easy to keep tabs on your own council, if you want to track local authorities nationwide – as a councillor or official keen to learn from your peers, or a supplier seeking new opportunities – you would need to monitor many hundreds of sources.

So let Council News Monitor do the job for you. It’s a new email service, sent first thing every weekday morning, with articles and press releases from councils in all nine English regions, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland – or, as the four nations can safely be called again, the United Kingdom. Continue reading

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NHS Scotland independence for Guardian, updates on Beacon

Today and tomorrow, I will be writing updates on Scotland’s referendum on independence every few hours for Beacon. To clarify, in the title ‘The end of Britain, possibly – LIVE!’, Britain refers to the country also known as the UK, not the islands we’re sitting on just off the north-west coast of Europe…

Whatever happens, the sun is going to rise over the islands tomorrow morning. Possibly behind some clouds, but that’s normal.

Below is my piece for Guardian Healthcare Professionals, published on Tuesday, looking at how NHS Scotland may fare under independence. Continue reading

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Scottish independence & IT: skilled immigrants yes, banks no?

With a week to go to the vote on Scottish independence, The Register has published a lengthy piece by me on the potential impact of independence on ICT companies and professionals.

The most interesting argument from the yes side is that an independent Scotland could allow more skilled immigration, although doing so could conflict with its aim of keeping an open border with the new UK. On the no side, there are worries about currency, VAT, EU membership (of both Scotland and the new UK), the end of the Royal Mail universal service obligation, you name it. Continue reading

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