Published: 04/04/2002, Volume II2, No. 5799 Page 6

An investigation has found 'clear evidence of the systemic falsification'of Department of Health records tracking responses to parliamentary questions.A backlog of over 400 accumulated, and more than half were recorded as answered when no answer had been given.The investigation is complete and one official faces disciplinary action, health secretary Alan Milburn told the House of Commons. In a reply to a written question, he said there was 'no consistent pattern either by party or subject matter'of questions which had been manipulated.He promised 'a greater degree of external checking' to prevent a recurrence.

Porters, cleaners, cooks, laundry and security personnel will remain in the NHS while working for private companies in private finance initiative schemes. Last week, a meeting of Unison's health group service executive voted in favour of extending the retention of employment model to all future PFI projects.

The NHS has agreed to meet the£150,000 cost of providing every air ambulance service in England with a paramedic crew, and five air ambulance charities are to receive£2.2m to help pay their operational costs, junior health minister Hazel Blears announced last week.

Junior health minister Lord Hunt has announced a new research and development partnership between the Department of Health and the pharmaceutical industry which will mean joint funding for clinical research between individual NHS bodies and pharmaceutical companies.

Only one in three people with mental health problems feel confident enough to disclose the fact on a job application form, according to Out at Work , a survey by the Mental Health Foundation released this week.The report notes that those who do 'come out'about their problems are surprised by the support of friends, colleagues and employers.

www. mentalhealth. org. uk