From June 30th 2014 the FAST database is no longer being updated and no bulletins are being circulated due to a decision by the Department of Health to cut the contract to FAST. Find out how to support this information resource to continue by following this link.

Past E-Bulletins

« back to listing page

Bulletin No 46, July 2007


This news bulletin is provided as a resource for AT Forum members and to highlight innovation in AT service delivery for a wider audience. FAST welcomes contributions.


  1. Transforming Community Equipment and Wheelchair Services
  2. Developing the AT Workforce
  3. Healthcare-associated Infections and the Safety of Medical Devices
  4. Motoring and Transport for Disabled People
  5. The Government Changes
  6. The NHS Reforms
  7. Integrated Care
  8. Services for Older People
  9. Services for Children and Young People
  10. Rights for Disabled People
  11. Equality and Human Rights
  12. Support for Carers
  13. Governance and Regulation
  14. The Third Sector
  15. News in Brief

1. Transforming Community Equipment and Wheelchair Services

The Care Services Efficiency Delivery (CSED) programme is holding regional road-shows in July and August about the new retail model for community equipment services. These are open to all-comers (no need to book). For more details, follow this link.

Two potential models for wheelchair services have been developed and a further data-gathering exercise is being carried out.  More information here.

The latest Care Services Efficiency Delivery newsletter is at:

The July issue of “Equipment Services”, published in association with NAEP (National Association Equipment Providers, includes coverage of the retail model for community equipment services and discusses the implications for NAEP and those working in the statutory sector, including equipment stores.

The new service model was also discussed in Community Care on 14 June:

Back to top

2. Developing the AT Workforce

FAST, working with members of the AT Forum, have published a feasibility study for an AT Workforce Development Strategy. The strategy includes development of a framework of National Occupational Standards (NOS) in AT, proposals to develop self-care and self-management in AT, and work to consolidate and support education provision across the sector. Such a workforce development strategy is necessary for several reasons, including the need:

  • for a flexible, competent, community-based workforce to meet the needs of the increasing numbers of disabled and older people who will require AT to live independently;
  • for an accreditation mechanism that enables service redesign, supports the commissioning of quality AT services and supports regulation of a diverse workforce across statutory, private and voluntary sectors;
  • to ensure provision at all levels along the educational pathway is coherent, affordable, and relevant to good practice in AT delivery.

The report authors suggest that implementation of the proposed work is essential to ensure the sustainability of existing AT courses, many of which currently fail to attract sufficient students and funding, despite the high quality of individual courses being offered. It is proposed that development of nationally recognised, portable and affordable accreditation, based on a foundation of National Occupational Standards will increase the awareness by employers and commissioners of the required competence to carry out work in AT effectively and safely. A framework of National Occupational Standards in AT will directly impact on the development of job roles thoughout the sector and will underpin the case for mandatory training and accreditation in relevant training and education.

The work is referred to in the outline business case for Transforming Community Equipment Services. The proposals put forward in the feasibility study are all required to ensure the effective implementation and long-term success of the retail model, minimum competence demonstration by retailers, increased access to independent AT assessors, a greater role for informed AT users and carers, effective commissioning and the development of a relatory mechanism.

The report is available on the FAST website and comments are invited on the overall approach and in relation to the analysis of the challenges facing specific areas across AT practice. Skills for Care and Skills for Health, who commissioned the report, are considering the proposals in the wider context of their respective strategic business plans. Further updates will be provided in this e-bulletin. For more information and to download the report:  

The British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) “Know Your Industry” course has achieved a nationally recognised accredited professional training standard, a BTEC Professional Award in Healthcare and Assistive Technology (AT).  More details via this link.

The Health Service Journal of 21 June included a supplement on the work of Skills for Health in developing the sector skills agreement and national competences for the healthcare sector:

Back to top

3. Healthcare Associated Infections and the Safety of Medical Devices

As part of the Healthcare Commission’s annual health check for 2006/7, every NHS trust in England has issued a public declaration on its performance in meeting the Government’s core standards in the “Standards for Better Health”. Standards where fewest trusts claimed compliance included 1) reducing the risk of healthcare associated infections and 2) decontamination of medical devices. The details are here.

Both issues are included in the Government’s statutory Hygiene Code, “Code of practice for the prevention and control of healthcare associated infections”, which outlines 11 compulsory duties to prevent and manage healthcare associated infections, including procedures for decontaminating equipment. Information about the Code is available via this link.

In its biggest ever programme of visits relating to healthcare associated infections, the Healthcare Commission is going to carry out unannounced inspections at 120 NHS trusts over the coming year. These will check compliance with the Government's Hygiene Code. Compliance with the Code will also be part of all inspections carried out as part of the ‘routine’ 2006/7 annual assessment of all NHS trusts. More details here.

The Healthcare Commission has published the final version of its annual health check for 2007/8. Ensuring patient safety and compliance with the Hygiene Code will continue to be a priority. Further information here.  

The Department of Health has published a brief update report on work to reduce MRSA and other healthcare associated infections. Details via this link.

The latest statistics on healthcare associated infections are available from the Health Protection Agency:

Full information about the safety of medical devices, including Medical Device Alerts, is available on the website of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency:

The NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency has published guidance for procurement professionals on the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations (WEEE) 2006 covering the purchase and disposal of electrical and electronic equipment.  Details available via this link.

Back to top

4. Motoring and Transport for Disabled People

The July issue of Disability Now includes the motoring supplement, “Get in Gear”:

The Government website on motoring and transport for disabled people is here.

For the latest information about the Motability scheme, including a new guide about adaptations, go to:

For information about services from the UK’s 17 independent mobility centres, go to:

According to the British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA), disabled consumers may have to pay £250 more for their imported mobility scooters. This is the result of a change in their classification by the World Customs Organisation (WCO) and a resulting increase in import duty by the EU. Further information is available via this link.

Back to top

5. The Government Changes

Three new departments have been set up, which replace the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). The Department for Children, Schools and Families is responsible for children’s services, families, schools, 14-19 education, the Youth Justice Board, and the ‘respect agenda’. The other two new departments are the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) and the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (DBER).

Cabinet appointments include:

  • Alan Johnson as Secretary of State for Health;
  • Ed Balls as Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families;
  • John Denham as Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills;
  • Hazel Blears as Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government;
  • Peter Hain as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions;
  • Ruth Kelly as Secretary of State for Transport;
  • Ed Miliband as Minister for the Cabinet Office.

Yvette Cooper, Minister for Housing, will also attend the Cabinet.

Full details are at:
For details of junior ministers, see the websites of Government departments.

Back to top

6. The NHS Reforms

NHS Chief Executive David Nicholson's annual report outlined the achievements of the NHS over the last year, including overall financial balance, and the significant challenges ahead. Key points include:

  • “Changes and improvements for patients will accelerate, not slow down, but will be locally driven to create more effective services for patients.
  • We won’t succeed unless we take our patients, staff and public with us.
  • We won’t succeed unless NHS leaders start to look out toward their patients and populations as a guide to action, not up toward the Department of Health.”

The report is available here.

The NHS is on track to meet the 18 weeks waiting time target. More details via this link.

The Government’s “Capability Review” of the Department of Health criticised performance on leadership and strategy and highlighted the need for “a clearly articulated vision for the future of health and social care and how to get there”:

David Cameron was interviewed about Conservative health policies ( in the Health Service Journal of 28 June:

The new NHS Choices website provides information about conditions, treatments and hospitals, to help the public make informed choices about their own health and give immediate feedback on their hospital treatment and experience. It has also been designed as a resource for voluntary sector workers, patient advocates and carers to distribute information to patients who do not use the internet:

The Audit Commission has published a briefing document on the key issues for implementation of payment by results in the NHS. For more information, follow this link.

The Department of Health has published a review of the role of health visitors.  Details are available here.

Back to top

7. Integrated Care

The Department of Health is consulting on a proposed Health and Social Care Outcomes and Accountability Framework to shift the focus of performance “from central direction to locally-driven improvement”. The aim is to develop a set of no more than 40 outcomes and indicators that cover the whole range of outcomes for health and social care, as part of a joint accountability regime (NB the Healthcare Commission will merge with the Commission for Social Care Inspection to form Ofcare in 2009):

The Department of Health is consulting on proposals to unify and reform the current arrangements for making complaints across health and social care:

The Care Services Improvement Partnership (CSIP) has brought together its Learning and Improvement Networks (Housing, Telecare, Better Commissioning and Integrated Care) in a single brand and website, CSIP Networks:

The Department of Health has published the report, “Modernising adult social care – what’s working”. Details are available via this link.

Back to top

8. Services for Older People

National Falls Awareness Day on 26 June encouraged older people to identify opportunities for exercise in their local area and to be aware of potential hazards inside and outside the home. More information available here

Help the Aged is teaming up with care agencies around the UK to deliver new specialised care services for older people with learning disabilities. Details via this link.

Back to top

9. Services for Children and Young People

According to research by Manchester Metropolitan University, denying possibly thousands of children with speech difficulties in England access to communication aids will cause them long term emotional and economic hardship. Read the details here.

The Government has published a “Self Audit Tool for services for disabled children” to help local agencies review these services, as required by the White Paper, “Our Health, Our Care, Our Say”:

The Government has published “Better outcomes for children’s services through joint funding: a best practice guide”:

The Government is consulting on guidance to support ContactPoint, previously known as the “information sharing index”, a quick way for practitioners to find out who else is working with the same child or young person. More information here

The Children’s Workforce Development Council (CWDC) has published an updated version of “Making it Happen – Working together for children, young people and families”. For more details, follow this link.

Children Now, the national magazine for people working with children and families, and the Every Disabled Child Matters campaign team ( have drawn up a charter which sets out what central government, local authorities, agencies such as Ofsted and other organisations need to do to ensure disabled children are not left out of service provision. Details are here.

Back to top

10. Rights for Disabled People

“Up to the Mark”, is a report of a recent project by the Disability Rights Commission assessing the Disability Equality Schemes of all fifteen ministerial Government departments. The report presents a mixed picture as to how well Government is engaging with the Disability Equality Duty:
Up to the mark (June 2007) – PDF (193KB)
Up to the mark (June 2007) – Word (122KB)
Up to the mark (June 2007) – RTF (217KB)

The Department for Work and Pensions has announced a new initiative, “Employ Ability”, which will highlight for employers the benefits of employing disabled people:

Improving the skills of disabled people to world class levels by 2020 would boost the economy by £35 billion over 30 years and help tackle child poverty, according to a new report, “Disability, Skills and Work: Raising our ambitions”, published by the Social Market Foundation with the Disability Rights Commission. Details are here

Ministers have launched a cross-Government strategy to support young people and adults with learning difficulties and/or disabilities in further education, leading to employment wherever this can be achieved. More information via this link.

The Disability Rights Commission has published a Code of Practice for those providing post-16 education. Details available via this link.

The British Medical Association has called for doctors and other NHS staff to lead the way in promoting disability equality. Read the details here.

The Department for Work and Pensions has published a research report about landlords’ awareness of and responses to the Disability Discrimination Act. For more information, follow this link.

Back to top

11. Equality and Human Rights

The Government has published proposals for a Single Equality Bill for Great Britain developed as a result of the discrimination law review:

The Disability Rights Commission has criticised the proposals, including the “threatened dilution of recently enacted duties on public sector bodies to promote disability, race and gender equality”.  More information here.   

Responding to the decision in June by the Law Lords, the Disability Rights Commission has called for the urgent closing of the legal loophole which fails to offer adequate human rights protection to disabled or older people if their local authority places them in a privately owned care home.  Further details here.

Back to top

12. Support for Carers

Care Services Minister Ivan Lewis has launched a national debate on how to improve the future of the nation's six million carers, supported by a dedicated website and £1 million for key national organisations working with the Government to support carers.  For more information, follow this link.

Carers UK is campaigning for improved support for carers and holding a “Carers Summit”:

Back to top

13. Governance and Regulation

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has issued Clinical Guideline 2007/033 on the care and treatment of adults with faecal incontinence. This recommends that professionals should be working within an integrated continence service:

The Commission for Social Care Inspection is calling for views on how it carries out the annual performance assessment of councils' adult social care services.  More details available here.

Back to top

14. The Third Sector

The Department for Communities and Local Government has published for consultation its proposals for improving its engagement with the third sector:

The Office of the Third Sector in the Cabinet Office has announced £3 million over three years for seven leading organisations in the social enterprise sector to raise awareness with key groups and represent the sector in policy development.  More details via this link.

Back to top

15. News in Brief

Research and Development in Assistive Technology - Report to Parliament
The Department of Health have just published their Annual Report to Parliament that is drafted by FAST and draws on the FAST database of research and development activity. The annual report gives an overview of government funded research and development activity in AT over the past year. The report was laid before Parliament in July and will shortly be available to download from the Department of Health website (currently available from the FAST website). In addition to highlighting 35 projects of particular significance, this year's report provides a summary of all current activity with direct links through to the FAST website in an Annex to the report.

Journal of Assistive Technologies
This new peer-reviewed journal from Pavilion will focus on current and new assistive and enabling technologies, telecare and e-inclusion in health and social care. Two issues of Journal of Assistive Technologies will be published in 2007 (October and December) and it will appear quarterly from 2008 onwards. Those interested in contributing articles should contact the editor, Dr Chris Abbott, Reader in e-Inclusion, King’s College London –

To subscribe, contact Pavilion at or call 0870 890 1080.   

Techshare 2007
RNIB, in partnership with other leading disability organisations, is looking for presentations for Techshare 2007, a conference in October for professionals who are interested in technology and the role it plays in learning, work and society for people with a variety of disabilities.  More information via this link.  

News from DLF
The Disabled Living Foundation has updated three of its 45 free information factsheets:

The Disabled Living Foundation is looking for feedback and endorsement for its new bathing products website, “Bathing made easy”.  The website has been relaunched to make it easier for user to find advice and information about products such as walk-in baths, showers and grab rails and over 140,000 people have used the new resource.  Comments should be sent to:

An ITN news item about DLF's work was shown at the NAIDEX exhibition eaier this year.  The film is now available on the DLF's website and can be accessed via this link.

News from Assist UK
Assist UK has produced a new "About Us" leaflet with details of the work done by the organisation and the network of disabled living centres. It has also launched a new level of membership, following its “Making the Links” project, for all those who are already involved, or who would like to be involved, in the continuing work of the programme. The new "Individual LINKS Membership" is open to all users of assistive technology:

War Veterans and Digital Hearing Aids
The Government has announced that war veterans will be first in line for digital hearing aids:

Accessible Educational Software
Becta (British Education Communications and Technology Agency) has published two sets of guidelines and legal advice on 'reasonable adjustment' in educational software. "Making Software Accessible" is a guide for educational practitioners on how to look for accessible software and "Making Accessible Software" provides software developers and commissioners with guidelines for creating accessible educational resources:
Making Software Accessible
Making Accessible Software

Research Initiative for Long Term Neurological Conditions
The Department of Health has set up the Research Initiative for Long Term Neurological Conditions to support the National Service Framework for that client group. The website has links to: the six research studies in the Initiative, related research about community equipment and information and communication technologies (ICT), and the latest edition of the LTNC Newsletter:

Personalised Care
The 28 June issue of Community Care included an article by the Social Care Institute for Excellence ( on research findings about personalised and self-directed care and individual budgets:

User Involvement and the Internet
Responding to the independent “Power on Information” review, the Government has said that it will “engage in partnership with user–led online communities, not attempt to replicate them”.  For more details, follow this link.

Continuing Care Framework
The Department of Health has published “The National Framework for NHS Continuing Healthcare and NHS-funded Nursing Care in England”, a single system for determining people’s eligibility for long term NHS healthcare, which is designed to avoid the current postcode lottery:

Supporting People Strategy
The Government has published a new strategy for the Supporting People programme, which provides housing-related support services.  Details available via this link.

Support for People with Learning Disabilities
SeeAbility and RNIB have launched “Look Up”, an information service on eye care and vision for people with learning disabilities:

The Department of Health has set up an independent inquiry into healthcare for people with learning disabilities.  Details are available here.

Cutting Red Tape
The Government has launched a strategy to cut red tape for frontline public sector workers:

Telecare 2007
The British Journal of Healthcare Computing ( is running its second telecare event, in Birmingham on 27th September 2007.  The day will focus on case-history presentations and is free for participants from the NHS, Social Services and third sector organisations.  More details available here.