Referral 'removal'...Scottish healthcare crisis...two-tier service warning...private health favours Labour...tobacco ad ban pledge

Published: 11/4/2002, Volume II2, No. 5800 Page 10

A leaked letter from a trust to patients saying that they should accept a referral to a hospital outside the district or be dropped from the waiting list is 'inaccurate' say managers. Stuart Ingham, United Leeds Teaching Hospitals trust chief executive, said: 'Nobody is simply removed from the list.'The letter, leaked to the HSJ , was sent to a patient awaiting plastic surgery offering treatment prior to 31 March - the Patient's Charter deadline for two-year waits.

Church leaders want an independent commission to review Scottish health services which they claim face a 'three-fold crisis'.A special report for the Church of Scotland warns the health service is being seriously undermined by low public confidence, poor morale among staff and by underfunding.

Trust hospitals could be forced to adopt a twotier service for patients if there is an increase in fundholding GPs, a trust chief executive has warned. Jim Hammond, lead chief executive for the NHS Trust Federation, said difficulties could arise as fundholders took a greater share of district purchasing budgets.

Private hospital operators' interests 'might be better served by the return of a Labour government'.The claim comes in the annual survey of the private health sector, edited by independent analyst William Laing.The survey suggests: 'Private hospitals would benefit from less competition for private patients from NHS pay-bed units'.However, the survey also predicts that the abolition of trusts and GP budgets would curtail private-sector contracts for treating NHS-funded patients.

The Labour Party would back a European ban on tobacco advertising and establish a cabinet committee on health promotion within a month of taking office according to health spokesman Robin Cook.