Clinicians need to decide whether a treatment is 'worth having'before admitting patients on to a waiting list, NHS chief executive Duncan Nichol has urged. They should agree protocols to decide what treatment should be offered on the NHS and at what stage it should be available. 'Of course, such protocols also mean deciding that, for some patients, some treatments are not worth having - at least not yet, ' he said.

Patients would be given a 20-point charter setting out their rights under a Labour government, said shadow health secretary Robin Cook, but it would not include any guarantee of quick treatment. 'The reason is that we wished to produce a charter we could implement within a month of coming to office, 'he said. Waiting lists were so bad they would have to be tackled 'over the lifetime' of a government.

Shadow health secretary Robin Cook accused the government of politically vetting trust board chairs and members, following the leak of a letter from the NHS Executive's trust unit. The letter asked for the party affiliation details of any candidates who were politically active.

Claims that health authorities are still keeping beds vacant which were initially put aside for Gulf War casualties are being investigated by health secretary William Waldegrave. Leeds West Labour MP John Battle, who first raised the issue, said: 'It is a good way of saving money if you are desperate'.

Hospital roofs are set to become a money-spinner for HAs as mobile phone firms snap up sites for aerials.

Hillingdon HA is cashing in on the communications explosion by offering to arrange deals for other HAs. It has raised the equivalent of the running costs of half a ward for the last four years by selling space.