Attack on Clarke... Mellor rejects fundholding fears... Federation for trusts... Charities' reform protest... £70,000 for outpatient projects

The British Medical Association has launched a poster campaign attacking health secretary Kenneth Clarke. The poster, which will be displayed at over 1,000 sites, reads: 'What do you call a man who ignores medical advice? Mr Clarke'.

Health minister David Mellor has denied that GP fundholders may refuse patients treatment to save costs. 'Every patient will receive the drugs they need,' he said. 'That is categoric.'He attacked the BMA as 'scurrilous' for making claims it knew to be false. 'There is nothing in the government's proposed reforms which will adversely affect patients.'

A federation of self-governing hospital trusts is likely to be set up within six weeks by a former NHS manager turned management consultant, Vic Flintham. It will seek to dissuade the government from increasing regulations on how trusts are run. 'The government seems to be wanting to draw some of the trusts' teeth. It is introducing more regulations than some of my clients hoped,' said Mr Flintham. The federation would also represent trusts' interests to the media. The press seemed to be concerned only with opposition to the reforms,he added.

Voluntary groups and charities have added their voices to the growing protests over the NHS reforms. Out of a total of 37 such organisations which answered a Labour Party questionnaire, 35 disagreed with the idea of self-governing trusts and 28 were against GP fundholding.

Five projects to improve outpatient departments are to share£70,000 in an effort to spearhead the new consumer-conscious NHS. Information from them will be fed back to the service to assist similar schemes in future. But the Department of Health says there will beno extra cash for further schemes.