The internal market's likely pitfalls have been outlined in a Department of Health consultation document on 'pricing and openness in contracts'. It eschews the extremes of a completely free market or a highly regulated system, suggesting prices should be regulated locally, aided by central guidance.
The Labour Party has not ruled out a legal challenge to the 'tens of millions' already spent on the NHS reforms before proposals have been put to Parliament. It says the spending includes£25m on 1,000 extra accountants,£9m on public relations,£40m on tax relief for private care for people over 60, and£200m on computers.
The Royal College of Nursing's new general secretary, former Waltham Forest district general manager Christine Hancock, appealed to managers on her first day in the job to think twice about implementing the NHS reforms. She announced a lobby of MPs later this month.
The Princess of Wales became the first member of the royal family to visit a special hospital when she met 40 patients at Rampton as patron of Turning Point, a voluntary agency which helps rehabilitate mentally ill people.
Ambulance officers and controllers voted to join their crews' over time ban in a ballot that was three to one in favour on a turnout of just over 50 per cent. Trade union NALGO offered to call off the dispute immediately if health secretary Kenneth Clarke would go to binding arbitration.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health has repeated its refusal to allow collective bargaining for senior managers in response to a pay claim by NALGO. Health minister David Mellor said their pay was not suitable for negotiation by a Whitley Council.