Litigation Authority speeds Bristol babies claims

The NHS Litigation Authority has ordered lawyers to speed up the settlement of claims arising out of the Bristol children's heart surgery tragedy. The authority, United Bristol Healthcare trust and Avon health authority said they wished to avoid 'the further anxiety that would result from protracted litigation in the courts'. Families who have not yet started court proceedings are being invited to submit details of their claims as quickly as possible so they can be evaluated speedily and settlement proposals made.

Boateng invites feedback on London ambulances

Junior health minister Paul Boateng last week launched a patient 'feedback' scheme inviting people to comment on the care they receive from London Ambulance Service. Posters in five languages have been erected at 58 display points at 33 hospitals in London. Information leaflets in a dispenser beneath the posters include a tear-off form on which patients can record their views.

Hospices get 240,000 grant for cancer care pilot

Two Scottish hospices are to share 240,000 from the Scottish Office to pilot better care for people with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. Announcing the schemes, Scottish health minister Sam Galbraith said the provision of good quality palliative care was 'very important.' Hunters Hill Hospice, Glasgow, and Strathcarron Hospice, Stirling, are both expected to publish reports on hospices as resource centres at the end of the two-year pilots.

Problems in hospital discharge of elderly people

Trust policies on the discharge of frail elderly people from hospital are not always implemented and there are continuing problems with multi- agency working, a Scottish Office research report says. Most trusts show a 'high level of commitment' to good discharge practice, but some need to update their documentation in the light of recent guidance and literature.

Hospital Discharge for Frail Older People. Stationery Office Bookshop, 71 Lothian Road, Edinburgh EH3 9AZ. 6.

Dorset proposes six 'public health action areas'

Dorset health authority is pursuing plans to set up six 'public health action areas' as an alternative to a health action zone. 'People in Dorset enjoy a better standard of living and health than in many other parts of the country so we wouldn't be eligible for HAZ status,' said a HA spokesperson. 'However, there are pockets of the county which have higher levels of death from heart disease, unemployment and teenage pregnancies.' The areas are an attempt to tackle these problems. Costs will be shared by the HA and local authorities.

Two firms share top spot in healthcare law survey

Law firms Capsticks and Beachcroft Stanleys have retained their pre-eminent position among solicitors competing for NHS work in London, according to an annual survey published this week. The Legal 500, which recommends firms by specialty and region, gives the two firms joint first place for all-round healthcare work. In the wake of the approved list of firms working on medical negligence defence drawn up by the NHS Litigation Authority, it puts Capsticks in first place, followed by Beachcroft Stanleys, Hempsons and LeBrasseur J Tickle. In Scotland, the report awards top position to Simpson and Marwick for medical negligence defence work.

UKCC backs ASA plan for register of paramedics

The United Kingdom Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting has backed plans drawn up by the Ambulance Service Association for a register of paramedics. The UKCC said it believed the professional registration of paramedics would be 'in the public interest' and 'ensure the highest possible standards of practice for those who depend upon the care they provide'.