First steps to end RHAs. . MoD rejects waiting-list option. . Plastic surgery row. . Report urges HA link with councils. . Bad food lengthens stay

Published: 31/01/2002, Volume II2, No. 5790 Page 10

Six outposts of the NHS Management Executive are being set up in a possible first step towards ending regional health authorities.NHS Trust Federation chair John Greetham said: 'It is hands-off from the regions now. Some are finding it a little difficult to take their hands off.'Another source said: 'The Treasury has got its eyes on the regions with a view to making substantial savings'.

The Ministry of Defence has cast doubt on plans to use military hospitals to cut NHS waiting lists.The eight service hospitals, with a total of 2,000 beds, are said to be working to capacity.The Patient's Charter has pledged that 'virtually all' those waiting two years for operations will have been treated by April.

Latest figures show a backlog of 32,000, with Mersey the only region to have cleared its twoyear lists.

Meanwhile, a scheme in Mersey region under which patients have been sent to private hospitals for plastic surgery has been halted after protests from NHS surgeons.The RHA had been allowing patients to be treated at private hospitals in Altrincham and St Helens.

Chief executives of health authorities must forge closer partnerships with other agencies, including local authorities, GPs and community health councils, says a report from the King's Fund College.

Managers are missing out on more than£250m worth of savings by failing to deal with the malnourishment of hospital patients, according to the King's Fund Centre. It says that at least 10 per cent of inpatients could have their stay cut by five days with nutritional supplements, at a net saving of£484 per patient.