Surgeons, nurses, consultants and other frontline medical staff are in the firing line after the announcement that 800 jobs will be axed from two Midland hospitals. Insisting patient care would not suffer, NHS boss John Adler said the move was vital to ensure the Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust stayed within its budget. The trust, which is having to shed more than ten per cent of its 7,500-strong workforce as part of a #20 million savings plan, is the seventh NHS organisation in the region to announce job cuts.

The future of a statue of three of Birmingham's founding fathers has finally been decided after more than two years of uncertainty. The newly renovated statue of Matthew Boulton, James Watt and William Murdoch will now be sited in Centenary Square between the Hall of Memory war memorial and Baskerville House. The statue was removed from its former site outside the former register office in Broad Street to be cleaned, refurbished and given new gilding before being relocated. The Centenary Square location is the third site to be identified by council chiefs for the bronze sculpture since it was removed in 2003.

A Birmingham scientist today said he believed anti-abortionists were "flat out wrong" in their claims that foetuses feel pain during abortions. Evidence foetuses can feel pain is scientifically unsound and may be putting women considering an abortion at risk, according to Dr Stuart Derbyshire, a senior psychology lecturer at Birmingham University. His research, which is published in the British Medical Journal, argues that the main physical mechanisms humans need to feel pain only develop in the foetus after 26 weeks of pregnancy.

Howls of laughter greeted Ruth Kelly yesterday as she told a Birmingham teachers' conference that pupils' behaviour was improving in the classroom. The Education Secretary fought to be heard over the derision, as she defended Government reforms before the NASUWT's annual conference at the International Convention Centre. Asked what measures could be introduced to safeguard schools against a rising tide of pupil violence and disruption, Ms Kelly insisted: "The evidence from Ofsted tells us behaviour is improving in the classroom." But the Secretary of State had to raise her voice over disbelieving laughter, as she admitted something did need to be done to deal with the "few pupils" who caused problems.