Ward closure warning... London hospital trust application vetoed... HA axes non-striking staff's theatre-trip reward...

Hospitals may be forced to close wards unless health secretary Kenneth Clarke can win extra funds from the Treasury to boost their budgets over the next two years, the National Association of Health Authorities has warned. It says rises projected for 1990-92 are the lowest for 10 years, amounting to 0.6 per cent in real terms. Average increases since 1980 have been 1.1 per cent, it claimed.

NHS employment practices resemble those of First World War generals, according to Royal College of Nursing general secretary Christine Hancock. She told a fringe meeting of the Social and Liberal Democrats' annual conference: 'You may be able to treat 18-year-olds badly, but you can't recruit 43-year-old women back to the health service after they have worked somewhere else if you treat them that way.'

Senior ambulance officers are planning to expand private contracts for non-emergency calls in response to the ambulance crews' ban on overtime and rest-day working, which started this week. But senior staff are sympathetic to crews' demands for increases in line with the police and fire brigade.

Staff at the North Middlesex Hospital, London, have urged managers not to press ahead with a trust application after voting by 96 per cent against the bid. It follows a ballot of consultants in which 26 doctors voted in favour of the application and 24 against.

Plans by South Wales hospital managers to reward staff who continued to work through a strike with a free night out at the theatre have been axed. Selected staff at Cardiff's Llandough and Sully hospitals were offered free£12.50 tickets for The Pirates of Penzance plus a buffet. But South Glamorgan HA cancelled the plan the day before the show after criticism from local MP Alun Michael.