Children as young as six have been treated for cannabis addiction in Manchester, a drugs expert has said.
Drug specialists also reported regularly seeing addicts aged eight and nine referred to them.
They said the children suffered from paranoia, sleeplessness, anxiety, depression and schizophrenia.
One drugs worker said the youngest child he had dealt with was six – and that addiction was usually just one of a series of problems youngsters face.
Hospitals are facing problems as 30,000 junior doctors start jobs in England, the British Medical Association says.
According to the BMA, operations and clinics will have to be postponed as NHS trusts rush to fill vacant posts “up to the eleventh hour”.
There are twice the normal number of junior doctors beginning jobs on Wednesday because of a shake-up which has ended staggered start days.
The government says NHS trusts have plans to ensure services run properly.
The changes to start days, under the Modernising Medical Careers programme, is designed to speed up the time it takes to become a consultant.
It follows reforms in junior doctor training and the introduction of the controversial online Medical Training Application Service (MTAS), which has proved unpopular with junior doctors.
The cost of living for elderly people is rising at more than twice the rate of other households, research has showed.
People aged between 65 and 74 saw their annual expenditure increase by around 9% a year between 2002 and 2006, more than double the national average of 4%, according to insurer Prudential.
The situation is even worse for people over 75, who saw their cost of living soar by around 10% a year during the same period.
The group said the steeper increase in expenditure for older people was caused by the higher proportion of their income they spent on food and drink, the cost of which is rising at up to five times the rate of inflation.
It said the average household spent around 10% of its annual income on food and non-alcoholic drink, but this rose to 13% among people aged between 65 and 74, and was 15% for people over 75.
But it warned that the jumps in the cost of living being faced by pensioners were being made worse by the fact that the average pensioner income was increasing by just 3% a year.
Drunken yobs behaving “like occupying armies” are turning town centres into no-go areas after dark, the chairman of an influential committee of MPs says.
Conservative MP Edward Leigh said anti-social behaviour in England and Wales was costing £3.4bn a year.
The public accounts committee said the Home Office had not researched which anti-social behaviour measures brought in since 1997 were most effective.
But the government said tackling the problem remained “a top priority”.
Human activities that spur global warming are largely to blame for changes in rainfall patterns over the last century, climate researchers reported on Monday.
The report was released as record rains caused deadly flooding in Britain and China.
Human-caused climate change has been responsible for higher air temperatures and hotter seas and is widely expected to lead to more droughts, wildfires and floods, but the authors say this is the first study to specifically link it to precipitation changes.
“For the first time, climate scientists have clearly detected the human fingerprint on changing global precipitation patterns over the past century,” researchers from Environment Canada said in a statement.
The scientists, writing in the journal Nature, found humans contributed significantly to these changes, which include more rain and snow in northern regions that include Canada, Russia and Europe, drier conditions in the northern tropics and more rainfall in the southern tropics.
So-called anthropogenic climate change has had a “detectable influence” on changes in average precipitation in these areas, and it cannot be explained by normal climate variations, they wrote.
THE head of the British army has warned that the country has almost run out of troops to defend itself or fight abroad, a leaked document has revealed.
General Sir Richard Dannatt has told senior commanders that reinforcements are “now almost non-existent”.
In the memorandum to fellow defence leaders, he said: “We have almost no capability to react to the unexpected”.
The “undermanned” army has almost all its units committed to training for war in Iraq and Afghanistan, on operations or on leave.
Just one battalion of 500 troops is available for an emergency, such as a domestic terrorist attack.
Military leaders have privately suggested that a defence review is essential to examine if more money, equipment and troops are needed.
With Britain’s military reserve virtually empty, pressure will mount on US President George Bush to review US troop levels in Iraq, after fellow Republicans suggested significant withdrawals. More forces are also needed in Afghanistan.
Pay deals are running at 3.2%, more than 1% below retail price inflation, the figure used by union wage negotiators, according to a new report.
Deals in private firms were slightly higher at 3.5%, according to an analysis of 300 settlements in the last three months by Industrial Relations Services (IRS).
Increases ranged mainly from 2% to 4%, with more than two thirds of awards higher than a year ago.