Speculation about a change in health policy is rife following Margaret Thatcher's resignation as prime minister and her replacement by John Major. But it is thought unlikely that health secretary William Waldegrave - appointed only last month - would be moved in any Cabinet reshuffle.
Firm bookings for hospital admissions will be given to every patient in South Western region by 1992 as part of a 10-point charter launched by regional chair Charles Stuart, who also chairs Brymon Airways. He hoped all the region's hospitals would have an airline-style computerised admissions service within two years and that all first outpatient appointments would take place within three months of referral.
Community health councils are being frozen out of health authority meetings, a survey by their association has found, with fewer invited to speak, attend private sessions and receive relevant papers. ACHCEW director Toby Harris said:
'There is evidence that patients' representatives are only being involved if they promise not to rock the boat and are co-operative.'
Campaigning nurse Graham Pink has been found guilty of gross misconduct by managers at Stepping Hill Hospital, Stockport, after a six-week disciplinary hearing, which he denounced as a 'kangaroo court'.
'The very people I have criticised in the past were those trying me. . . The power of management is quite amazing. There is no question of democracy in the health service, 'he said.
The NHS has fallen behind other large organisations in making good use of information technology, and its management of projects has resulted in poor value for money, says the National Audit Office. The Department of Health's policy of leaving HAs to set up IT systems which suit local needs has led to waste, it reports.