The NHS Confederation and the Institute of Health Services Management welcomed reports this week that the government is considering marking the 50th anniversary of the NHS this summer by announcing a permanent pounds2bn annual increase. Health secretary Frank Dobson is said to have urged the chancellor to boost NHS resources using savings from the government's spending review.

A MORI survey of 4,500 people carried out for BBC Regional Broadcasting found 75 per cent opposed closing small hospitals to save money, and 63 per cent supported a 2p in the pound rise in income tax to support the NHS. The survey, detailed in The NHS at 50 - a picture of health?, found 72 per cent of respondents were satisfied with the health service, but 68 per cent thought it was underfunded.

Merton, Sutton and Wandsworth health authority has announced a package of measures to tackle its pounds23m deficit. The HA, in its service and financial framework for

1998-99, says it will no longer fund a list of 'low-priority treatments' agreed with GPs and local trusts. It also plans to cut back on some relatively non-urgent surgery, including hip and knee replacements, although it says 18-month Patient's Charter standards

will be met. Pressure group London Health Emergency has condemned the measures.

Leading health, social services and probation agencies have formed a new alliance to tackle alcohol misuse, which they say costs the NHS pounds150m a year and causes up to 33,000 deaths annually. The Association of Directors of Social Services, the NHS Confederation, the Association of Chief Probation Officers, and charity Alcohol Concern said their alliance should be matched by a government commitment to tackle the problems across Whitehall departments.