Published: 05/09/2002, Volume II2, No. 5812 Page 6

Luton and Dunstable Hospital trust has been praised by the Commission for Health Improvement for its strong links with the local community and for its cardiac rehabilitation service, which has helped reduce waiting times for outpatient appointments from eight to three weeks.However, its clinical governance review also highlights patients being placed on inappropriate wards due to bed pressures.

Nearly 30 per cent of GPs will be working under personal medial services contracts from next month, rather than the standard general medical services contract, according to the Department of Health.The latest figures for PMS pilots show that an estimated 680 practices will go live from 1 October, which will mean 29 per cent of GPs will be working under the contracts.The contracts allow greater flexibility of skill-mix and the opportunity of salaried employment.

Attendance at consultant outpatient clinics increased by 1.1 per cent to 44 million last year, with first attendances up by 2 per cent to 12.7 million.New attendances at accident and emergency departments and minor injury units fell 0.8 per cent to 12.9 million, while total attendances fell by 1.7 per cent to 14 million.

The number of open and staffed adult critical care beds in English trusts was 3,070 in mid-July. It is a 30 per cent increase on mid-January 2000 - the baseline date for the NHS plan.The plan target was for an increase of 30 per cent by 2003.

Only one in 10 hospitals could deal with a serious chemical incident, according to a study in Emergency Medical Journal.The authors reviewed 227 emergency departments and found that nearly three-quarters lacked satisfactory rooms, sealed off from the main accident and emergency unit, to deal with victims of contamination.And only two-thirds had written plans to cope with such emergencies.Two-thirds admitted they could not adequately protect staff while treating contaminated patients.