NEWS: Junior doctors'hours. . . Authorities merger. . .Joint ventures with independent sector . . .Hospitals shelved. . .Performance reviews

Junior doctors are being urged to boycott jobs which involve exceptionally long hours.Campaigner Dr Sam Everington named five hospitals - in London, Birmingham, Blackburn and the Isle of Wight - with some of the worst working conditions in paediatrics, one of the most strenuous specialties, despite the national deal to reduce hours agreed in June.

However, the British Medical Association has distanced itself from the campaign.

Health authorities and family health services authorities will merge to form large single purchasing organisations, King's Fund fellow Chris Ham has predicted.Meanwhile, pressure group London Health Emergency claims secret plans have been drawn up to merge the capital's 28 HAs into 11.

Bed numbers in the independent sector have fallen for the first time in six years, an Independent Healthcare Association survey shows.Two hospitals closed and 61 beds were cut.The IHA also reports an increasing number of joint ventures with the NHS, though private healthcare analyst William Laing said there was 'an awful lot of talk' but not much action.

Britain's biggest hospital-building programme is back on the drawing board as managers calculate the impact of the internal market.Building a Healthy Birmingham, began in 1989 and, already revised twice, is being reevaluated.The latest version envisages replacing the city's 15 hospitals with three mega acute centres at a cost of£500m.

Regional health authorities'performance is to be reviewed three times a year instead of annually when the NHS Management Executive's performancemanagement directorate begins work in the autumn.It will be headed by NHS deputy chief executive Andrew Foster, who said: 'We will try to narrow the gap between the Department of Health and senior managers.'