Clarke denies pre-empting legislation... Doctors dismiss extra consultant posts as 'sop'... White paper critics 'risk worse'...

Health secretary Kenneth Clarke has denied accusations that the government is 'pre-empting legislation' by forging ahead with white paper plans before they have been discussed by Parliament. The charge was levelled by Ada Maddocks, national officer of trade union NALGO, who has described a letter to managers from NHS chief executive Duncan Nichol as 'contempt for the democratic process'. Mr Nichol's letter outlines action to streamline regional health authorities.

Doctors have dismissed the government's announcement of 100 extra consultants' posts as 'a drop in the ocean' which will do little to tackle waiting lists or reduce junior doctors' hours. The British Medical Association described the move as a 'sop' to doctors rebelling over the white paper.

Critics of the white paper risk the government imposing far more radical reforms unless the current proposals can be made to work, said King's Fund policy analyst Chris Ham. The outcome of the NHS review represented a defeat for right-wing proposals for more private provision and a victory for more moderate ideas compatible with NHS principles, he said.

Claims by Labour MP Frank Dobson that Department of Health publicity spending is to rise by 87 per cent have been discounted by the DoH. He said spending would rise from£10m to£19m this year. But the DoH said£7m would go to outside bodies such as the Health Education Authority.

Health authorities have been urged to ensure they get value for money from spending on information technology. Junior health minister Roger Freeman warned: 'We cannot afford to build a Tower of Babel.'

Cardiff GP Dr Christopher Tiarks is to stand in the Vale of Glamorgan by-election as a 'Protect the NHS' candidate. He has cancelled a bird- watching holiday in Spain to canvass electors.