Ministers have given the go-ahead for Harefield Hospital trust and the Royal Brompton Hospital trust to merge on 1 April, creating the 'largest cardiothoracic centre in Europe'. Harefield trust chair Sir Geoffrey Errington hailed the decision as a 'major step forward' in the treatment of people with heart and lung conditions.

Cancer patients in the UK are 'dying of politeness' because they do not lobby for access to new and emerging treatments, Patients Association chief executive Cathy Gritzner told a conference of patient groups in Paris last week.

Department of Health figures show the number of people detained under the Mental Health Act rose from 20,600 in 1991-92 to 25,600 in 1994-95, but fell back last year to 24,200. The rate of formal admissions for England is now 47 per 100,000 population.

Inpatients Formally Detained in Hospitals Under the Mental Health Act 1983 and Other Legislation, England, 1991-92 to 1996-97. Department of Health, PO Box 410, Wetherby LS23 7LN. pounds2.

The Association of Human Healthcare Human Resource Management said last week it was disappointed pay review body recommendations for nurses and professions allied to medicine offered only 'limited local flexibility'. It welcomed the government's acceptance of the recommendations, but feared the rises would not be enough for every trust with recruitment and retention difficulties.

Health minister Alan Milburn has confirmed that the Department of Health will compensate trusts for the decision last year by Customs & Excise to impose VAT on essential continence products supplied to the NHS. Simon Hombersley, national co-ordinator of the Continence Campaign, welcomed the 'excellent development'.