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Issue:- 1 December  2011

IT Medics at Runshaw

THE 2nd year students on the Foundation Degree in Computer Technology have been offering Runshaw staff and students simple remedies for queries related to basic computer skills and knowledge. As part of the degree course, the ‘IT Medics’ have been running an End User Support Desk to help with any issues related to the use of software applications such as Microsoft office packages and internet browsers.

Diane Maier, Accounts tutor at Runshaw Adult College, brought in her personal laptop to have it assessed and was delighted with the results. Diane commented that:- "The IT Medics provided a first class service. They were attentive to my needs, professional and extremely knowledgeable. I now have sound and vision on BBC iPlayer which makes catching up on TV far more enjoyable!"

Paul Heaton, one of the tutors for the Foundation Degree in Computer Technology commented:- "We are very proud of our students and a lot of students and tutors have benefitted from the support provided. During Cyber safety week at Runshaw College, the IT Medics were available to offer free advice and answer any queries related to cyber safety, such as using social networking sites, trojans, viruses, phishing attacks, spyware and buying goods on the internet. The service has helped students become more confident and complemented their coursework."

British Medical Association Council opposes plans to 'privatise' commissioning support

THE BMA Council, on 24 November 2011, called for the withdrawal of government plans that are likely to lead to support services for clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in England being provided solely by large commercial organisations after 2016. An urgent meeting has been requested with the Secretary of State for Health to raise the BMA's concerns. Draft guidance from the Department of Health; Developing commissioning support: Towards service excellence and makes a number of recommendations about how clinical commissioning groups should function, including how they should access technical, as well as "back-office" support, such as analysing sensitive population data.  Current primary care trust (PCT) clusters are forming commissioning support units and, from 2016, would be encouraged to form social enterprises and partner with the private sector, rather than remaining part of the NHS family. Commercially-focused criteria to determine eligibility for providing commissioning support would also be introduced, making it almost impossible for CCGs to have their own, in-house support staff. Dr Hamish Meldrum, Chairman of BMA Council, said:- "A key plank of the government’s NHS reforms was to entrust GPs and other health care professionals to lead on the commissioning of services for patients to ensure local health needs were met. These latest proposals from the government have the potential to seriously undermine this role, restricting the freedom and independence that clinically-led commissioning groups need to make locally sensitive, locally accountable, patient-focused decisions. Doctors tell us about the chaos they are already seeing on the ground as more and more change is implemented. The government should be focusing on ensuring the skills and experience of staff in current PCT clusters are retained. They will be invaluable in supporting the development of CCGs and providing much needed continuity during this period of huge financial pressure and structural overhaul. We will be urging CCGs to urgently review and where necessary change their structures to ensure they are able to fulfil their statutory functions without becoming dependent on external commissioning support."   The BMA will be considering its next steps as part of its continuing activities on the Bill.

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