Scotland set to lead on minimum unit pricing for alcohol

Councils in north west England are drafting a bylaw for minimum drink prices, but Scotland may get there first

Scotland is increasingly developing distinctive policies on health, such as minimum unit pricing for alcohol, to deal with its particular health problems. You can read other posts and articles by me on Scotland here.
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Online health records can save lives

The crisis-hit £12.7bn NHS IT programme is under attack from the Tories, but it is working well in Scotland

The much-criticised National Programme for IT only covered England, as each of the four UK nations runs its own healthcare. This article looks at Scotland’s relative success in building its emergency care summary system, covering virtually the entire population. Continue reading “Online health records can save lives”

Charting a new course: data analysis of the NHS across the UK

Article on data analysis in the NHS, first published in Health Service Journal, 5 July 2005

Two years ago, Sheila Leatherman, research professor at University of North Carolina’s school of public health, and Kim Sutherland, a senior research associate at University of Cambridge’s Judge institute of management, wrote ‘The Quest for Quality in the NHS’ for the Nuffield Trust, comparing England’s NHS to other developed countries.

The authors noted the lack of a ‘shared robust information base that provides a common understanding of the NHS’s strengths and weaknesses’. Now, Prof Leatherman and Dr Sutherland have attempted to show that such an information base, using independent and routinely-reported data, can and should be compiled – by doing it themselves, through compiling more than 100 charts from numerous sources into a single chartbook of NHS quality.
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Video ring to unite islanders: Orkney Island Council and videoconferencing

The Ring of Brodgar stone circle on mainland Orkney
The Ring of Brodgar stone circle on mainland Orkney (published with original article)

First published in Government Computing, September 2002

Orkney Island Council is the smallest full-service local authority in the UK, a unitary body that governs just 20,000 people on 17 inhabited islands.

It is also a place where they love the internet. A council survey last summer, which gathered responses from over 1,000 households, found that 44% had internet access with another 6% planning to go online by the end of 2002. The national equivalent last summer, according to Oftel, was 39%.

So it may come as a surprise that the council is planning to concentrate on video-conferencing, rather than its web-site, in providing electronic access to social services, housing and health.
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Smallest post office gets net

A new network could transform the fortunes of rural post offices. SA Mathieson visits Britain’s tiniest post office to find out more

Visiting the smallest post office in Britain, in a beautiful part of the Highlands, was great fun. This was in the days when Royal Mail was calling itself Consignia, a thankfully brief period in its history.
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