Dr Elizabeth Vallance, former chair of St George's Healthcare trust, is to succeed Sir William Reid as chair of the advisory committee on distinction awards in England and Wales. The committee advises on awards to individual consultants for 'outstanding work' in the NHS.

It made awards worth£105m last year.

The National Blood Transfusion Service, the Whittington Hospital, the Royal National Institute for the Deaf, and Diabetes UK have all been announced as winners of the Plain English Campaign's annual plain English awards for clarity in their communication with patients.

The all-party parliamentary group on population, development and reproduction has called on health professionals to help prosecute UK residents who take their daughters abroad to have them circumcised, following a big rise in women presenting to NHS services requiring treatment for genital mutilation.

London homelessness 'czar' Louise Casey, head of the government's rough sleepers unit, this week pledged that there will be beds for all the most vulnerable London homeless by mid-December. 'Now we have got enough beds and treatment options in place to help these people, 'she said.

Seven organisations have been shortlisted from 70 applicants to pilot electronic transmission of prescriptions between GPs and pharmacies. Up to three pilots are expected to get the go-ahead by March next year. The government has pledged that direct e-mailing of prescriptions will be introduced by 2004.

Protesters from Dudley Group of Hospitals trust staged a demonstration in health secretary Alan Milburn's Darlington constituency on Saturday as part of their campaign against transfer from the NHS into a private finance initiative deal.The 600 mainly ancillary workers are set to begin their eighth strike - for three weeks - on 13 December.