Big money: as speculation mounted that the health service could get a substantial cash boost, health secretary Frank Dobson this week launched a 50p coin marking the NHS's

half-century. Pictured here at the launch with six-year-old Beatrice Ellams, a neurosurgery patient at London's King's College Hospital, Mr Dobson commented: 'The government has put pounds 35bn into the NHS this year; that's a lot of 50p pieces.' The coin went into circulation this week; precious and base metal commemorative versions are available from the Royal Mint, 01443-623456.