Wage 'cartels' to control costs. . .Reforms 'will fragment service'. . .

Community care U-turn. . .Accounts row. . .CHCs denied meetings access Trusts may form wage 'cartels' to keep hospital staffing costs under control.

Details from the 29 units which have so far applied for trust status show they are working together to set pay rates for staff in short supply. Trade union NUPE feared such 'cartels' could drive down wages and conditions. But all major trust applicants so far have pledged to continue Whitley Council rates until they have developed local negotiating skills.

The internal market reforms will fragment the service and weaken local authorities' capacity to protect public health, according to official NHS historian Charles Webster. He says Victorian public health reformers would have viewed present health and local administration policy with 'amazed disbelief '.

Social services directors admit large sections of the community care reforms may be shelved - but for political rather than practical reasons. The Association of Directors of Social Services accused the government of deceit in claiming local authorities would not be ready next April.

The ADSS says any delay will be for the reason of pegging next year's poll tax.

Backbench Conservative MP Jerry Hayes has demanded that NHS finance director Sheila Masters withdraw a letter telling regional health authorities not to make accounts available to a third party. Ms Masters says the new contracting arrangements alter 'the freedom with which the data can be used in the NHS'. MPs are accusing the Department of Health of using commercial confidentiality to prevent others warning of financial difficulties.

Many family practitioner committees are refusing to allow community health councils the statutory right to attend their meetings.

Of 115 CHCs surveyed, 55 said they were able to attend both public and confidential sections of FPC meetings.