BMJ 1995; 310 doi: (Published 18 February 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:418

Britain continues to spend less on health than other developed countries: In 1995 Britain will spend pounds sterling47bn on health care, which is 6.7% of the gross national product but a smaller proportion than most other developed countries, which spend between 8% and 10%, according to the Compendium of Health Statistics from the Office of Health Economics. There has been a reduction in hospital beds from 540000 in 1961 to 300000 in 1993.

France will not decriminalise drugs: After reviewing the report of a commission set up to look at decriminalising drugs, France's social affairs and health minister, Simone Veil, has said that possession of drugs will remain illegal. Research into addiction will increase, and the number of addiction centres will be doubled.

Thalidomide fund is running out: The trust that was set up 20 years ago to support the victims of thalidomide for life could dry up by 2009. The Thalidomide Action Group hopes to take Guinness, which owns Distillers, the company that markets the drug in Britain, to the High Court to try to win more compensation.

Royal college to assess Gulf war veterans' illness: The Royal College of Physicians is to carry out a clinical audit among veterans of the 1991 Gulf war, who claim they are suffering from a debilitating disease after receiving vaccines to counter chemical and biological warfare attacks. The defence ministry says that after examinations of 78 of the 223 people referred so far there was no evidence to show that they were suffering from one syndrome.

British medical school head moves to World Bank: Professor Richard Feacham, dean of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, is to take responsibility for the World Bank's work in the health sector. The bank is the largest source of help for health sector development in low and middle income countries.

UK government reviews health related professions: The British government is to commission a review of the statutory bodies which are responsible for the registration and professional conduct of health related professionals such as chiropodists, dietitians, and medical laboratory scientific officers.

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