An extra £140m has been allocated to help tackle 'the postcode lottery of care' in the coming financial year bringing the average increase in health authority allocations to 8.9 per cent, according to health secretary Alan Milburn.The NHS research and development budget will rise by 6.6 per cent to £479m.

New Forest MP Desmond Swayne has joined the Conservative front bench health team.He is to assist in the progress of the Health and Social Care Bill through its committee stage.He has served on the Scottish affairs and social security select committees.

A£25m programme to improve services to drug misusers has been launched by junior health minister Gisela Stuart.It will provide new treatment services, train and recruit more counsellors, and improve awareness and training among NHS staff about drug misuse.

Consultants are working considerably more than their contracted hours, according to a census conducted by the Royal College of Physicians.If physicians worked to their stipulated hours, an extra 2,627 would be needed, with consultants in acute general medicine and specialty work completing an average of just under 60 hours a week.

Unison fired its first shots of the general election campaign this week, with national press and poster advertisements attacking the Conservative Party over health and public services.One advertisement features a slashed wrist and the slogan, 'Public spending cuts'.The union claims that the Conservatives plan to 'slash£16bn off public spending'.

High housing costs are forcing almost all nurses and other 'key workers'to contemplate leaving London or their jobs, according to a survey from the Greater London Authority.

The study found that nurses want to live closer to work and are more likely than other occupations such as police and teachers to want to move home.