The Department of Health has been criticised for spending £10,000 on a slap-up dinner for the chairs and managers of successful trust applications.It feted more than 100 guests at a £50-a-head black-tie dinner at the Banqueting House in Whitehall. Bath district general manager Andrew Wall described the event, attended by health secretary William Waldegrave, as 'verging on corruption'.The DoH said the dinner was part of a two-day workshop.

Chairs and chief executives of the 56 first-wave trusts are considering breaking away from the National Association of Health Authorities and Trusts.They fear NAHAT will be dominated by HAs. But one chief executive, Neil McKay of Northern General Hospital trust in Sheffield, said trusts should stay members as a clear signal that they were part of the NHS.NAHAT director Philip Hunt urged trusts to 'see how it works out for a couple of years'.

Plans to halve the number of regional health authorities and turn them into branches of the NHS Management Executive have been aired by regional general managers at a 'brain-storming session'. They suggested there could be as few as five large RHAs, with the four Thames regions likely candidates for merger. The proposals are seen as a bid by RHAs to consolidate their power in a climate of devolution.

Potential GP fundholders are becoming impatient with hospitals' inability to quote prices for services.

One complained that St Bartholomew's Hospital, London, could not give 'even specialty costs, never mind for each condition'. A local private hospital had already issued prices to fundholders. 'At the moment, hospitals are in just as much chaos as we are, and things will happen quickly towards the end, 'the GP commented.