DoH foots pounds 4m bill for mis-sold pensions

More than pounds 4m has been added to the Department of Health's budget to cover extra work by the NHS Pensions Agency on mis-sold pensions. The move is one of a series of adjustments to the DoH's cash limits.

The limit for hospital, community and family health services will rise by pounds 6.6m to cover the initial transfer of funding for student healthcare professionals from the Department for Education and Employment. Other budget heads will be cut by pounds 1.1m as responsibility for childcare and early years policy moves to the DfEE. The changes depend on parliamentary approval.

Call to put Scottish blood service moves on hold

Scottish health minister Sam Galbraith has been urged to put controversial plans to reorganise the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service on hold for six months.

Liberal Democrat Scottish health spokesman Michael Moore said in a letter that the time should be used for 'proper consultation and dialogue' about plans to centralise blood testing and processing in Edinburgh and Glasgow. He also called for plans to filter blood to remove white cells in the light of concerns about new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease to be made public, so 'any new processing requirements can be taken into account'.

But SNBTS national medical and scientific adviser Ian Franklin told HSJ that the 'likelihood' that the service would have to 'leuco-deplete' was a factor behind the plans unveiled last month.

BUPA demands role in clinical quality improvement

Private hospital operator BUPA has called on the government and medical profession to include it in the drive to improve clinical quality. Medical director Andrew Vallance-Owen argued that 'unexpected problems can occur even in the best systems, and there is a need for the sector to be seen to be pursuing the same clinical quality agenda as the NHS'. He said BUPA was piloting systematic data collection to measure treatment outcomes, and that audit of cardiac treatment had been included at its hospitals.

Home Office stands firm on overseas nurses rules

The Home Office has turned down a plea to relax the rules governing overseas nurses working in NHS hospitals. Responding to a question from Labour MP Phyllis Starkey about whether the government would grant all nurses on working holiday visas the right to work in the UK for two years, home affairs minister Mike O'Brien said he 'would not wish to relax the working holiday rules further' because the work permit scheme already allowed non-EU nationals to be employed where there were skills shortages.

Second private finance deal for Lanarkshire signed

Contracts have been signed on a pounds 100m private finance initiative deal to replace Law Hospital, Carluke. Due to open in 2001, the hospital will have 633 inpatient beds and 56 day surgery places. It is the second PFI hospital deal agreed for Lanarkshire, following the pounds 67.5m contract signed for a development at Hairmyres. Under this week's agreement, Summit Healthcare will build and operate the hospital for 30 years. Scottish health minister Sam Galbraith said eight hospitals and units were now in progress, 'the largest rebuilding programme in the history of the NHS in Scotland'.

Separate training bodies for health and social care

Education secretary David Blunkett has announced separate national training organisations for healthcare and personal social services. Their role will include developing National Vocational Qualifications, promoting training and the Investors in People initiative, and setting targets for skills and qualifications in their sector. Junior health minister Paul Boateng said the two new bodies could 'make a significant contribution to destroying the Berlin Wall between social and healthcare by working together'.