GPs urged against feeling for wallets... white paper criticism dismissed... Quality in the market... Thatcher steps in... Labour attacks...

Health secretary Kenneth Clarke told the Royal College of GPs he wished 'the more suspicious of our GPs would stop feeling nervously for their wallets every time I mention the word 'reform'.' He said he would not spend time in 'pointless battle' with GPs, and he believed the vast majority shared his aims. At meetings all over the country, GPs have voted to resign or reject the Working for Patients white paper proposals and the new contract which Mr Clarke has threatened to impose.

Health minister David Mellor attempted to soothe mounting anxieties by dismissing criticism of the white paper as a 'jungle of scaremongering' at a packed National Association of Health Authorities conference. He accused critics of misrepresenting and distorting the proposals, and claimed many GPs - including those in his own Putney practice - were enthusiastic. The internal market would 'create an incentive and a mechanism to pull up standards overall', he said.

An independent inspectorate is needed to ensure quality of care in the market system, NAHA has told the Commons health select committee.

The organisation warned that the pace of implementing resource management at the rate of 87 hospitals a year was 'simply not realistic'.

Prime minister Margaret Thatcher is expected to play a direct role in deciding the membership and functions of the new NHS policy board, which will supervise health service strategy. She wants to include prominent industrialists, and names floated include former ICI chair Sir John Harvey- Jones and Sir Philip Harris, former chair of Harris Carpets.

Labour MPs were poised to attack chancellor Nigel Lawson's plan to allow tax relief on private health insurance for people over 60, arguing it would be a burden on the economy.