Ministers consider 'care test' for elderly people... Cot deaths increase... Local authority experts accuse government on public health...

Ministers are thought to be considering a 'care test' to fend off criticism of the burgeoning cost of social security payments to elderly people in residential care. The suggestion emerged during discussion of Sir Roy Griffiths' proposals on community care. Prime minister Margaret Thatcher is understood still to oppose Sir Roy's proposals.

Trends in cot deaths have risen steeply, the latest official statistics show. Cot deaths now account for more than half of infant deaths. Post- neonatal death rates in social classes I and II stayed static in the 10 years to 1986, but fell by 40 per cent for social class V, though the mortality rate is still higher in class V than in class I.

Local council health experts have accused the government of attempting to blunt annual public health reports - soon to be required from health authorities - in a bid to suppress politically embarrassing statistics. They have urged that the reports, recommended in Sir Donald Acheson's report on public health, should contain a core of essential health data.

The Institute of Health Services Management has said it supports 'much of the thinking' behind the Working for Patients white paper, but has warned that the NHS needs more money and time to achieve the government's goals. The institute points out that the proposals will not solve the 'essential problem of too little money in the system'.

Implementing the white paper will be a 'mammoth task', according to the Society of Family Practitioner Committees. It has welcomed the steps to 'improve GP prescribing and to avoid wasteful expenditure', but it says measures must be taken to ensure that patients with expensive drug needs do not find any difficulty registering with the doctor of their choice.