Devon's two health authorities have joined with the county council in an emergency aid package to help keep local private sector nursing homes open. Devon social services director David Johnstone said the problem was 'particularly acute'for some specialist homes, which could 'cause major problems to local hospitals'. A jointly financed payment will be made to homes in financial difficulty in areas where public need is greatest.

The NHS in Wales needs to do more to reduce the growing burden of clinical negligence cases, according to a report by auditor general for Wales Sir John Bourn. The health service paid out£27 million in 1999-2000 on settling claims. As at 31 March last year there were over 1,600 outstanding cases - which the National Audit Office estimates will cost£107m.

www. agw. wales. gov. uk One death in four among young people in Europe is alcohol-related, according to the World Health Organisation, accounting for as many as 33,000 deaths a year in the UK. WHO estimates that the rate of liver disease in the UK has soared because of a tendency towards binge drinking.

Hospitals which continue to provide junior doctors with substandard accommodation face tough penalties, warns guidance from the British Medical Association's junior doctors committee. The guidance, which takes forward provisions issued by the NHS Executive in December 2000, is based on an agreement between the committee, the Executive and postgraduate deaneries.

www. bma. org. uk.

Training budgets for NHS staff are set to rise by 11 per cent next year according to the Department of Health.

Between now and 2009 the number of NHS consultants will rise by 12,000 (49 per cent), the number of nurses and midwives by 59,600 (17 per cent), the number of GPs by 3,000 (10 per cent).