NEWS: Support for non-essential treatments. . .Jobs for spouses. . .Block contract problems. . .Fewer women on HAs. . Trusts seek private cash

Three out of four people are opposed to the NHS abandoning non-essential treatments despite its limited resources, according to an opinion poll commissioned by HSJ .Of the 25 per cent who support restrictions, more than half live in London and the South East.Among them, 89 per cent favour excluding tattoo removals, while 21 per cent want infertility treatment excluded.Only 42 per cent are willing to pay extra tax towards increased NHS spending.

Labour has attacked the appointment of wives and husbands of senior Conservative politicians as trust non-executives.They include Ann Parkinson, wife of former party chair Cecil Parkinson, Thomas Shephard, husband of deputy party chair Gillian Shephard, and Sheila Taylor, wife of Southend MP Teddy Taylor.

Purchasers are asking hospitals to treat fewer patients on waiting lists because 'over-activity'on block contracts is pushing providers into the red.St Mary's Hospital, Paddington, has already treated 40 per cent more patients for Ealing health authority than it is contracted for.

The government has appointed substantially fewer women to HA seats since the reforms, researchers have revealed, as the service declared its commitment to improving equal opportunities.Only 17.7 per cent of HA chairs are women.King's Fund Centre director Barbara Stocking blamed the government's emphasis on recruiting people with business experience.

Trusts are looking to increase the number of private patients they treat in an effort to make ends meet.This was a logical outcome of the internal market, said King's Fund Institute fellow Chris Ham.