Shadow health secretary Robin Cook told the Labour Party conference: 'The Tories have had 10 years to run down the NHS, and it will take time to put it right. But we are determined to do it. 'He stressed this would not be an easy job, and it could take the lifetime of the next parliament.

Health secretary Kenneth Clarke was expected to tell the Conservative Party conference about a new initiative which would involve setting targets based on major causes of disease and premature death. He also planned to remind managers that their pay depended on their ability to reduce waiting times.

Too little attention is devoted to the impact and effectiveness of healthcare, the Public Finance Foundation has warned. It calls for a national forum to look at the results of healthcare and the establishment of a research institute to investigate results in the NHS.

Without much greater emphasis on outcomes and performance, health authorities would be at a disadvantage when trying to assess quality as part of the internal market contracting process.

London ambulance service is reconsidering the£8m computerisation of its central control, which handles 999 calls, as fears grow that the system it has bought is inadequate. It is nine years since the LAS agreed to buy the system, but the first two stages did not come into operation until last year. The system is understood to have broken down repeatedly during tests.

Consultant surgeons have raised fears that the loss of beds in central London teaching hospitals is threatening training for junior doctors. The warning follows a decision to cut 71 beds at St Thomas' Hospital, where surgical beds now number just 63 compared with 150 four years ago.