A director of public health and a support team will be appointed at every primary care trust in a bid to improve health and prevent disease, junior health minister Lord Hunt announced last week.

He said the the directors would be board-level appointments and would forge partnerships with all local agencies.He also said a regional director of public health - reporting to the chief medical officer - would represent the Department of Health at the nine government offices of the regions.

Health secretary Alan Milburn has pledged that good design will be central to the government's current hospital building programme.New hospitals will nominate a 'design champion' to ensure that buildings offer a 'patient focused environment, good working conditions for staff and a positive contribution to the local neighbourhood'.A partnership between NHS Estates and the Prince of Wales Foundation for Architecture and the Built Environment will be set up to raise design standards.

Research by the National Primary Care Research and Development Centre has found wide variations in charging policies and the care available in nursing and residential homes, including physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy.'Some residents receive services free of charge while others pay either directly or through home fees, and some have no access to rehabilitation services at all, ' it says.

An expert group has been established in a bid to improve mental health services for prisoners, chaired by national mental health director Professor Louis Appleby.With membership drawn from the Department of Health, prison service, Home Office and practitioners, it will provide advice about planned reforms, including development of in-reach community mental health services in prisons, as set out in the NHS plan.