The Legal Aid Board has agreed, with immediate effect, that it can and will pay for mediation if a case backed by legal aid can be resolved that way. It had initially argued that, by law, its funding covered only traditional dispute resolution - by negotiation or litigation. Mediation could be cheaper in many cases.

The Law Commission, the official law reform body, has considered but rejected suggestions from the British Medical Association and the Medical Defence Union that a special consent should be required before a private prosecution for manslaughter can be brought against a doctor or other health worker. The commission said there was no evidence that the working lives of doctors or others had been substantially damaged by being subjected to misconceived private prosecutions.

The NHS Executive is facing a judicial review application over a report on the competence of a surgeon at the centre of 53 complaints to the General Medical Council. The Executive decided, because of public concern, to investigate three operations by Christopher Ingoldby, a consultant general surgeon at Pinderfields Hospital, Wakefield, under the 'serious untoward incident' procedure. Mr Ingoldby, who claims the process was a breach of natural justice, has won a block on publication of the report pending the hearing of his judicial review application.