news: Block pricing for first contracts... testing time for would-be trust managers... Forsyth slams critics... Yorkshire rejects private insurance plan

Hospitals will not be expected to produce detailed pricing of individual treatments for the first contracts in the planned internal market. Junior health minister Roger Freeman said many initial contracts would be drawn up on a 'block' basis without precise costings.

Government demands for detailed information on hospitals seeking self- governing trust status are being seen as a tough test for would-be independent managers. Mr Freeman said: 'We are looking for well thought-out and researched proposals.' One unit general manager commented: 'Self-government is more than just breaking links with your HA. It is venturing into completely new territory'.

A health authority general manager has called for a public debate on the NHS reforms as pressure mounts on the government to consult on its plans. Brian Jackson of Calderdale cited a poll taken in a local shopping centre which showed 97.8 per cent of people questioned opposed the NHS white paper proposals.

Eight senior NHS managers have contributed to a King's Fund study which will attempt to define the role of the district health authority. They say the role is 'neither intellectually sterile nor legalistic', adding: 'On the contrary, it is challenging and it concerns human needs rather than dry bureaucratic processes.'

Scottish health minister Michael Forsyth has accused critics of the NHS reforms of 'deliberate misunderstanding' and arguing that 'more money is the best cure for the NHS'. He said: 'Extra money alone is not the answer.'

Yorkshire regional health authority has rejected a proposal from Commercial Union to offer private health insurance to the region's employees. A spokesperson denied the RHA had done so after an outcry from staff. 'Very few would take it up,' he said.