Dr John Chisholm, chair of the British Medical Association's general practitioners'committee, has written an open letter to GPs reiterating that the profession is in crisis due to increased workload, poor morale and inadequate pay.

The committee is 'considering how the profession can express its anger and dissatisfaction', he said.

The Liberal Democrats have announced an 'alternative budget'which would provide an additional 11,000 hospital beds, training places for 3,300 more doctors and 11,400 more nurses over five years, pay for all personal care for elderly people and restore free eye and dental check-ups for all.

A Social Care Institute for Excellence - a social services equivalent of the National Institute of Clinical Excellence - will be established to 'raise standards and tackle inconsistencies'. The institute will review research and practice and produce best practice guidelines.

Special assistance funding of£35. 3m has been allocated to 14 English health authorities to help with restructuring and modernisation of local services. The money, awarded through nominations from regional offices, will support trusts undergoing mergers and strategic change.

Junior health minister Lord Hunt of Kings Heath was due yesterday to launch a strategy for healthcare science. The strategy will bring a review of the healthcare science workforce, and offer improved career structures and rewards to enable more movement between practice, education and research.

Lay people must be at the heart of decision-making on primary care trusts, with representation on the executive as well as on the board, according to NHS Alliance chair Dr Michael Dixon. 'The separation between professionals and lay members imposed by the current PCT structure is a mistake, 'Dr Dixon said.