Clarke stresses morale. . . Strategy to update staff. . . 'Superhospital' dropped. . . Ambulance crisis. . . HEA in report row. . . Mellor's disappointment. . .

Lack of effective communication was the biggest threat to the success of the government's plans for the NHS, health secretary Kenneth Clarke told HSJ .

Winning staff hearts and minds was 'the single most important thing' in ensuring the NHS internal market reforms were turned into reality. The health service was 'an inert great juggernaut in which, if you are not careful, nothing ever happens, ' he said.

consultants is to draw up a communication strategy to help managers and chairs 'keep staff better informed about major changes in the service'. The exercise, costing£160,000, was announced by NHS chief executive Duncan Nichol.

Plans for a 1,900-bed 'superhospital' in Birmingham have been abandoned by West Midlands regional health authority in revised proposals for the controversial shake-up of the city's acute services. The new scheme suggests a 1,200-bed Queen Elizabeth Hospital and a 1,000-bed Selly Oak site.

Police, St John Ambulance and Red Cross staff were brought in to cover for London ambulance crews as the national pay dispute intensified. Unions have introduced a strict 39-hours a week work-to-rule in the capital.

The Health Education Authority has denied suppressing a study linking poverty and poor diet, which it had intended to publish in January. Author Issy Cole-Hamilton, a food researcher, said she believed the government did not want research published which supported increases in supplementary benefit. The HEA said it had asked merely for a literature search but the report 'contained a great deal of interpretation'.

Health minister David Mellor has described the 3.8 per cent rise in waiting lists as 'disappointing'. A total of 704,700 people were waiting in March, plus 37,000 self deferred cases.