Published: 21/11/2002, Volume II2, No. 5832 Page 6

The new star-ratings for social services show an overall improvement in performance across England.Out of the 18 social services departments to receive a changed rating,12 have gone up and six have gone down.The ratings will play a part in overall council star-ratings - the comprehensive performance assessment - that will be published in December.

www. doh. gov. uk/pssratings/ starrating0102. htm

The British Medical Association is due to meet health secretary Alan Milburn today to discuss the future direction of the NHS following the rejection of the consultant contract.The BMA is warning against the introduction of a sub-consultant grade, as well as any move by the government to introduce the contract piecemeal in individual trusts.

A former nurse who founded one of the UK's biggest recruitment and training agencies has won a record£2.2m pay-out for sex discrimination and unfair dismissal, according to BBC reports.Kate Bleasdale was sacked two years ago from the Match Group which she founded in 1985.Ms Bleasdale had alleged that her male colleagues and board members had refused to back her because she was a woman, and was eventually dismissed shortly after being told by the company chair that he would not put the company on the London stock exchange if she was in charge.Match Group was taken to an employment tribunal and settled out of court.

The number of NHS patients waiting for treatment has risen over the last year to 1,048,100, according to the latest Department of Health figures. In September 2001, the number of patients on the waiting list was 1,035,000.But in terms of waiting times, the number of inpatients waiting more than 12 months has dropped by 27,400 from a year ago, with 16,700 patients now over the March 2003 target.At the end of September, only 20 patients had been waiting over 15 months.