A report of an inquiry into allegations that senior managers at Tayside health board made 'irregular and possibly unlawful payments' of more than pounds200,000 has been passed to the Procurator Fiscal and the Crown Office. They are expected to decide within two weeks whether to start legal proceedings against individuals. The board's former general manager, Lesley Barrie, and commissioning and strategic management director, Nigel Young, took extended leave when the inquiry was ordered last September. Ms Barrie has since taken early retirement.

Birmingham health authority has asked an independent panel chaired by Lord Hunt of Kings Health to comment on its proposals for the future pattern of health services in the city. The move came as Unison said in its response to the HA's consultative document on the proposals that they relied on some 'unfounded assumptions and flawed theories'.

The British Medical Association and Unison attacked the government's announcement this week of a 15p increase in prescription charges, from pounds5.65 to pounds5.80, saying it was 'unpalatable' and a disincentive to those patients who already felt they could not afford to pay for their prescribed medicines. Health minister Alan Milburn said the latest 2.7 per cent rise was the lowest in 19 years and the first time since 1981 that the charge had fallen against inflation.

A mental health trust has paid pounds25,000 to the widow of a nurse who committed suicide. Unison, which pursued the claim, said nurse Richard Pocock was put under intolerable stress by managers at Severalls Hospital, Colchester, before his suicide in January 1995. North East Essex Mental Health trust has denied liability. 'We were prepared to go to court to defend this case but our insurers advised reaching a settlement,' said executive nursing director Raymond Hawes.