Published: 16/05/2002, Volume II2, No. 5805 Page 6

Around 95 per cent of patients would not allow civil servants access to their medical records without being asked first, according to research commissioned by the Patients Association.But of 1,001 people polled, 95 per cent said they would allow doctors and nurses directly involved in their care this right.MPs are due today to debate laws to allow civil servants from any government department access to patients'medical records.

www. patients-association. com

Hospices will no longer have to pay for NHS support services, the government has announced.

Public health minister Yvette Cooper said the move was being made to end the current lottery, where a number of hospices were paying for ambulance, pathology, imaging and pharmacy services.

The latest quarterly statistics on activity in consultant outpatient clinics and accident and emergency departments have been released.The figure for patients who did not attend their first outpatient attendance was 10.6 per cent.

www. doh. gov. uk

Heart patients will benefit from a£26.5m investment boost from the New Opportunities Fund, the distributor of National Lottery funds.

Ambulance crews will be given 1,400 new ECG machines.And 21 hospitals will receive new cardio-angiography equipment to help diagnose coronary heart disease.

The Department of Health has published a timetable for the implementation of Shifting the Balance of Power on its website, which lists the key targets and responsibilities of lead organisations.

www. doh. gov. uk

Dr Foster health guides, due to be published on May 13 with local papers across the UK (news, 9 May), have been delayed.They are now scheduled for next week.