Published: 27/05/2004, Volume II4, No. 5907 Page 6

Private provider Care UK Afrox Healthcare has been awarded a contract to establish an independent treatment centre in Plymouth.The centre will carry out 3,000 orthopaedic operations a year for five years.Health minister John Hutton said: 'This agreement will provide these extra operations for NHS patients well below the current rates being charged in the private sector.'

www. dh. gov. uk

Ambulance trust staff have the highest sickness absence rate in the NHS, according to a survey published by the Department of Health last week.

Ambulance trusts reported a 6.6 per cent sickness absence rate last year.

www. publications. doh. gov. uk/public/ sicknessabsence2003. htm

The Health Protection Agency has issued symptom-based clinical action cards to all GPs to help them recognise unusual symptoms that may be caused by chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear hazards.HPA chief executive Dr Pat Troop said: 'An important part of the agency's work is training frontline healthcare professionals whose response will be vital in determining our success in containing either an incident involving chemical, biological and nuclear hazards or a newly emerging disease.'

www. hpa. org. uk

A survey by the International Taskforce on Obesity has shown that 18 per cent of children in the UK are overweight and a further 6 per cent are obese.

It estimates that 1,400 children in the UK have type-2 diabetes, although only approximately 100 children have been diagnosed.

www. iotf. org/childhood

The National Patient Safety Agency has launched a package of measures designed to help hospitals reduce errors associated with infusion devices, including a safer practice notice outlining steps to improvement.The agency's study of infusion devices in six trusts found over 300 incidents a year linked to infusion services.

www. pasa. nhs. uk/infusiondevices