Published: 12/09/2002, Volume II2, No. 5822 Page 6

Junior health minister Lord Hunt has welcomed new legislative powers that came into force this week allowing the NHS to exploit its own innovations.NHS organisations can now form or participate in 'spin-off ' companies with the approval of the Department of Health, and retain up to£100,000, or 0.2 per cent of turnover, in profits.Robin Fry from law firm Beechcroft Wansbroughs said that if experience in the US was replicated, 20,000 patents a year could be filed by the NHS - compared to 60-100 now.

Commission for Health Improvement chair Dame Diedre Hine is to remain in post until the new Commission for Healthcare Audit and Inspection is established.Dame Diedre's term of office was due to finish in October. Establishing the new body will require primary legislation.

A Commission for Health Improvement report has praised Royal Liverpool Hospital trust - Alder Hey for its child-friendly approach. It also highlighted two schemes from which the rest of the NHS could learn: a horizon-scanning scheme and a bereavement care pathway to support dying children and their patients and carers.The report says further work is needed to improve accident and emergency and outpatient areas and to address adolescents'needs.

West Hertfordshire Hospitals trust, which has been subject to public concern and numerous mergers over the past seven years, has been praised in a Commission for Health Improvement governance review.CHI found that a 'change of approach'has made board members 'highly visible'and 'willing to progress.'But the report says the trust is still fragmented, that 'cluttered, untidy and dirty' buildings affect patient dignity and that investment is needed in IT and other areas. It also says the trust should work more closely with patients, pressure groups and other health organisations and 'show it has learnt lessons from the past.'

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