NEWS

Northern Ireland's flagship hospital will not be fully operational until next year because of its debt crisis.

Transfer of patients at the Royal Victoria Hospital to three new wards will be shelved until 1 April 2002.

And in a bid to save£2m, there will be a block on internal capital expenditure and 'a deferment of some waiting list activity'.The news comes as Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety permanent secretary Clive Gowdy urged managers and clinicians to cut the 54,000 people on the waiting lists.

The Welsh Assembly is to fund free nursing care for nursing home residents to the tune of£100 a week each and will not be adopting a banding system like that in England, health minister Jane Hutt has announced. In England, residents will be placed in bands paying£35,£70 or£110 a week.

The move means that England, Scotland and Wales all have different systems for funding longterm care.

The trust at the centre of the so-called 'bodies in the chapel' furore has appointed its first bereavement officer.Pauline Totten is to take up the position at Bedford Hospital trust.Among her duties will be responsibility for reviewing hospital policies around care of the deceased and dying to ensure the hospital follows best-practice guidance.

Private sector cash will be used as part of a£55m makeover of primary care premises in deprived areas.Health secretary Alan Milburn said the programme should benefit around 600 surgeries over the next two years:£10m will be invested in six Local Improvement Finance Trust projects - a public-private partnership - to build new facilities.

A centre designed to revolutionise training for critical care staff has been set up at Trafford General Hospital.The Critical Care Skills Institute will run a programme where staff-training for all disciplines will be built around the needs of individual patients.