Tunstall connects to EU e-health project Tunstall Healthcare is providing the technical lead for an innovative European project to deliver telehealth and telecare services.
The CommonWell project aims to deliver ICT-enabled health and social care services to support independent living and improve quality of life for older people and those with long-term conditions.
12 partners from five European countries are co-operating in the project, which is supported by the European Commission.
The newly integrated services will support the management of chronic disease and address issues that affect independence, such as reduced agility, vision and hearing. 400 users across four locations in Europe will receive the services for at least 12 months. The results of this pilot operation will be used to promote the uptake of e-health across Europe.
Paul Timmers, head of the Commission’s ‘ICT for Inclusion’ Unit, said: “We want ICT to help improve the quality of life and perspectives of being able to live independently and healthily in real-life situations. Projects like CommonWell fulfil all these criteria by making it possible to deliver cheaper and better healthcare with ICT.”
“The project is an excellent opportunity for Tunstall to co-operate with a wide range of stakeholders to improve health and social care outcomes,” said Steve Sadler, CTO at Tunstall Healthcare. “CommonWell will also improve the way primary and social care providers cooperate, helping to deliver a truly integrated model of care with significant benefits to the people most in need.”
NEWS IN BRIEF Abbott Laboratories has definitively agreed to buy ophthalmic surgery company Advanced Medical Optics for $1.36bn plus debt. Globally, AMO is the number one company for LASIK refractive surgical devices and the number two for cataract surgical devices.
The NHS Organ Donor Register has reached the target of 16 million people set by former Health Secretary Alan Milburn in 2001, when it stood at 8 million and 5500 people were waiting for transplant. 26% of the UK population have now joined the Register.
Avacta Group PLC , a UKbased specialist in bio-analytical technologies for healthcare, has acquired UK diagnostics company TheraGenetics, which is developing and commercialising pharmacogenetic diagnostic tests to guide and improve the treatment of CNS disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.
NICE has recommended that electronic cochlear implants be available on the NHS to people with severe or profound deafness who do not derive adequate benefit from acoustic hearing aids. It has also recommended that functional electrical stimulation be offered routinely as an NHS treatment option for drop foot.
Medifiq, a Finnish medical device company, will close its factory near Sunderland by the end of April, at a cost of almost 90 jobs. Medifiq, which supplies asthma inhalers and syringes, has blamed the closure on falling demand in the economic slowdown.
The European Parliament’s decision to stop people opting out of the Working Time Directive has been criticised by the CBI. But is the Directive really a damaging restriction on industry, or does it safeguard good working practice? And what does it mean for you?
The Working Time Directive was initiated by the European Parliament to protect workers from excessive company demands. Its primary regulation limits the average working time for employees in the EU to 48 hours a week. Workers in some sectors, including health, are exempted.
The UK Government negotiated an individual opt-out clause in the Directive: companies cannot opt out of the 48-hour limit, but individual workers can. This became law in the UK in 1998. The UK is the only European country where opting out of the Directive is widespread practice; at present, three million British workers subscribe to the working time opt-out.
Complaints by trade union Amicus that employers in the UK were undermining the intention of the Working Time Directive by creating a culture of longer hours, and by failing to enforce holidays and breaks, led to a reappraisal of the Directive by the European Parliament. On 17 December 2008, it voted to scrap the opt-out clause.
The case for the opt-out The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) argues that working time should be a matter for individual choice. It supports the Directive’s restriction on employers, but states that individual employees should have the option of working longer hours to supplement their incomes.
The CBI also notes that while the Directive allows European companies to get around the 48-hour limit through collective agreements with unions, in the UK such agreements are very rare.
John Cridland, CBI Deputy Director-General, said of the European Parliament’s decision: “This vote is misguided. Trying to ban people from choosing to work more than 48 hours a week is a mistake, and would replace opportunity with obstruction.”
In an earlier statement, Cridland argued: “In hard times, somebody may want to work extra hours to help support their family. Staff in a company that’s fi ghting for survival may choose to work longer hours.
“We think people can look at their own circumstances and decide if they want to work longer hours. We call this common sense, and it doesn’t need amending by Brussels.”
Business Secretary Peter Mandelson has also warned that losing the opt-out may accelerate the trend towards outsourcing of labour: “Adding new rigidities to the labour market when employers are suffering under the credit crunch risks losing jobs to China and India – who are focusing on Europe as US demand falters.”
The case against the opt-out Critics of the opt-out argue that longer working hours have a cost in terms of performance and sustainability. In the healthcare industry, some companies are known for their high sales professional ‘burnout’ rate.
Furthermore, at a time when the UK healthcare sector is increasingly looking to the EU as a market, a regulatory environment and a source of business models, why should the working practices of European companies be impossible for their UK counterparts?
Kevin White, Managing Director of business consultancy Working Time Solutions, commented: “The removal of the optout is a victory for common sense and a win-win situation for employers and employees alike. A move to more effective ways of working will mean improved productivity and a welcome end to the UK’s long-hours culture and dependence on expensive overtime.”
With reference to the medtech sector, White added: “There is so much change in the field of healthcare and medical devices at present that needs to be managed efficiently. Often the industry is surprisingly traditional in its approach to working time, whilst technology and the social environment have changed around it.
“The move to end the UK opt-out can only be for the better, since working time change is so often a catalyst for change in other areas, which in turn lead to higher productivity, improved service delivery and response levels and ultimately greater customer satisfaction.”