Government policies are in danger of increasing children's vulnerability to mental health problems, the director of the Mental Health Foundation said at a conference in Sheffield last week. June McKerrow criticised the Department of Social Security's plans to end single-parent benefits before putting in place other supports, such as assistance to return to work, suggesting it would have a detrimental effect on children's lives.

An action to compensate breast cancer patients injured by radiation overdoses began in the High Court last week after the women rejected a pounds2m out-of-court settlement. The offer was made by the NHS Litigation Authority on behalf of 60 hospitals in England and Wales which are being sued by 127 women. Judgement is expected in March.

Aintree Hospitals trust is trying to woo nurses back to the wards with the offer of free refresher courses. The trust is targeting women in their 30s and 40s who qualified but left nursing to have families and are interested in picking up their careers. The first course is planned for March.

A report published last week criticised the psychiatric and community care received by Desmond Ledgester, who killed a neighbour three months after discharging himself from Halifax General Hospital. It says vital information was not passed between agencies, but accepts that the killing could not have been predicted. Mr Ledgester is now in Rampton Hospital.

Health secretary Frank Dobson has approved the proposed merger from 1 April of North Kent Healthcare trust and Thameslink Healthcare Services trusts. A feasibility study is underway to find a headquarters for the new trust, which has yet to be named.