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(5) what percentage of suppliers of services to NHS Professionals are waiting for payment of services rendered (a) three months to six months ago, (b) six months to 12 months ago and (c) 12 months ago or longer; 
(6) what the total amount of payment made to suppliers of services to NHS Professionals has been to compensate for late payment and other associated legal costs since it became operational; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Byrne: NHS Professionals is currently working with officials in the Department to develop a three year corporate strategy underpinned by annual business plans so that it can become self-financing and prepare to take on independent status from 200708 as proposed in the review of Departmental arm's length bodies in 2004.
NHS Professionals meets the Best Payment Practice in the NHS, which requires at least 95 per cent. of suppliers to be paid within 30 days. During the financial year 200405 it received two statutory demands for
14 Dec 2005 : Column 2162W
payment, paid a total of £2,000 to compensate for late payment and other associated legal costs and spent a total of £2.5 million on external consultants. The external consultant costs included the provision of internal audit facilities, support for the relocation of the main offices in the south to a new contact centre and the development of a new booking system. Information relating to the percentage of suppliers of services to NHS Professionals waiting for payment of services rendered is not held centrally.
Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what discussions she has had with (a) NHS staff and (b) trade unions about the implications for staff of the reforms proposed in Commissioning a Patient-led NHS. 
Mr. Byrne: The Department has had several discussions with stakeholders. In our proposals sent out on 28 July, we indicated that we were minded to require primary care trusts (PCTs) to reduce their service-provision functions by the end of 2008. Since that document, we have listened to stakeholders. The policy moving forward, in relation to service-provision, is that this will be a matter for PCTs to determine locally. So any move away from direct provision of services will be a decision for the local NHS within the framework set out in the forthcoming White Paper and after local consultation, including professions allied to medicine.
We will support PCTs who want to do that, but we will not instruct PCTs to do it, nor will we impose any timetable. What matters is getting the best services for each communityand that is what the White Paper will focus on.
|Chorley and South Ribble||701||746||775||772||603||n/a||n/a||n/a|
Ms Rosie Winterton: Information relating to the number of qualified nurses, national health service hospital and community health services, employed by the Hyndburn and Ribble Valley primary care trust (PCT) in the school nursing area of work as at 30 September 2004 is shown in the table.
|Hyndburn and Ribble Valley PCT|
|All qualified school nurses13|
|Qualified school nurses(59)||3|
|School nursing nurses(60)||10|
Ms Rosie Winterton: In 2002 Sandwell Healthcare National Health Service Trust and the City Hospital NHS Trust merged to form Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust. Responsibility for community nursing services transferred to Oldbury and Smethwick Primary Care Trust.
|Total for the specified organisations||1,936||2,172||2,164||2,136||2,361||2,247||2,304||2,368|
|Sandwell Healthcare NHS Trust||950||968||1,013||1,062||1,093|||||||
|The City Hospital NHS Trust||986||1,204||1,151||1,074||1,268|||||||
|Oldbury and Smethwick PCT||||||||||||175||170||196|
|Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust||||||||||||2,072||2,134||2,172|
|All qualified nurses||HCHS qualified nurses||Practice nurses(62)|
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