The 'systematic' use of short-term contracts in the health service is to be ended, health secretary Frank Dobson told the annual Unison health conference in Brighton this week. He said the reasons for short-term contracts had disappeared with the end of the internal market and a three-year funding settlement for the NHS. But he said trusts would still be able to use them in 'genuine and appropriate circumstances' such as maternity cover, sickness and absence for training.

A national service framework for diabetes will be developed over the next two years. It will be the fourth in a programme of national service frameworks, which are already being developed for mental health, coronary heart disease and older people.

A national 'summit' to develop a strategy to prevent violence against social services staff has been called for 'this autumn' by junior health minister John Hutton. It follows the publication of Department of Health research earlier this year that found violence against social services staff was 'commonplace' and more widespread than attacks on NHS community workers.

A new expert group has been set up to develop targets to reduce mother to baby transmission of HIV. The group, to be chaired by deputy chief medical officer Dr Jeremy Metters, has been asked to submit its recommendations to public health minister Tessa Jowell by May.

A three-month consultation has been launched on proposals to create a single community trust for Birmingham by merging Northern Birmingham Community Health trust and Southern Birmingham Community Health trust.

Newham Community Health Services trust does not have a£1.7m deficit (news, page 7, 15 April). The deficit should have been attributed to Newham Healthcare trust, an acute trust, which said this week that its deficit was now£1.3m.