Dorrell heckled. . . Consultants avoid probe. . .BMA chair escapes censure. . .Manager manoeuvred into retirement. . .Skills campaign

Cries of 'shame'greeted junior health minister Stephen Dorrell at the Association of Community Health Councils'annual conference.Delegates were angry that CHCs had been sidelined in the internal market reforms and denied statutory rights to participate in health authority meetings.Shadow health secretary Robin Cook was warmly received when he suggested CHCs should be funded outside the NHS to preserve their independence.

The government has rejected calls to examine the effects of consultants'private practice on waiting lists, made by its former waiting-list adviser, John Yates.The Department of Health said: 'It is not clear what would be achieved by such a study.'

British Medical Association chair Dr Jeremy Lee-Potter escaped a motion of no confidence at the BMA's annual conference despite criticism for his willingness to talk to the government about the internal market reforms, in contrast to his predecessor's vitriolic protest campaign.But one council member told HSJ: 'The story is not over.Either he changes the way he handles BMA policy or there will be a change of chair.'

Dissatisfied health authority chairs are alleged to have manoeuvred West Midlands regional general manager Ken Bales into retirement.But Mr Bales said that he had been discussing retirement with regional chair Sir James Ackers for the past 18 months.He also denied that recent senior management changes at the RHA were causing low morale.

A national drive to boost the skills of NHS managers is to be launched by NHS personnel director Eric Caines.He said it 'reflected a view that the service has not done as well as it ought to have done in preparing people with the requisite range of top management skills for the NHS reforms'.