Closed doors. . . Software progress doubted. . .Clarke: 'It's full-steam ahead'. . .Call for £5bn boost. . .Union merger mulled. . .Exodus warning

New-style health authority boards in West Midlands region will hold some of their meetings behind closed doors. Regional chair Sir James Ackers said: 'You might want to do this when you are considering a range of potential options on a subject before bringing forward formal proposals.' Some other regions have pledged to keep HA meetings open.

Delegates at the annual conference of trade union COHSE have voted overwhelmingly to endorse further talks on merger with NUPE and NALGO.

The April 1991 deadline for installing software for GP computer systems to handle contracts in the internal market is a government delusion, according to family practitioner committee managers, GPs and computer suppliers. They believe there is insufficient time to design, pilot and evaluate the necessary programs.

Doctors have called for a£5bn increase on the£29bn NHS budget at the British Medical Association's annual representative meeting. BMA chair Dr John Marks warned that the reforms would fragment the service, demoralise staff and lead to two standards of hospital.

Health secretary Kenneth Clarke has scotched rumours that the reforms might be postponed. Reports that the government was slowing down or looking for cosmetic changes were 'all nonsense', he said. 'I am not in the business of playing the role of the Grand Old Duke of York, marching the NHS up the hill in preparing for a new system only to march it down again.'

Ancillary staff unions have warned that last week's below-inflation pay deal could lead to an exodus of women employees to better paid retail jobs. Staff voted two to one against industrial action to improve the 7.8 per cent offer, one of the lowest in the NHS.