Published: 30/05/2002, Volume II2, No. 5807 Page 6

Seventy-eight patients and 60 staff across 12 wards at Whipps Cross University Hospital trust in East London have been affected by Norwalk-like virus, similar to the one that hit Royal Marines in Afghanistan.The virus causes sickness and vomiting.This week, the trust closed the accident and emergency department to 999 ambulances, cancelled routine elective admissions and advised GPs to refer urgent assessments or admissions to neighbouring trusts.

Hospitals must improve their existing infrastructure, address staff shortages in key clinical and non-clinical areas and improve performance across the board if they are to reap their share of the government's£40bn NHS cash boost, according to a survey of 650 senior healthcare executives by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

www. pwcglobal. com

Strategic health authorities need to accept that they are a new type of body and not 'clones'of old health or regional authorities.'They need to be thin conductors, not fat controllers, 'NHS Alliance chief executive Mike Sobanja said at the pharmaceutical exhibition and conference at Kempton Park racecourse in Surrey last week.

www. nhsalliance. org. uk

Patients who changed their diet to eat more fruit and vegetables, following advice from their practice nurse, developed lower blood pressure and reduced the risk of coronary heart disease, according to research funded by the British Heart Foundation published in The Lancet this week.

Junior health minister Lord Hunt has approved plans for an 'organisational and managerial` merger between Chorley and South Ribble trust and Preston Acute Hospitals trust.The name of the merged trust and any details of job losses have yet to be finalised.Savings in costs will be channelled back into patient care, Lord Hunt said.