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Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many job losses she expects as a result of the merger of primary care trusts in Lincolnshire; what budget has been allocated for severance payments; and if she will make a statement. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: Ministers have given the go-ahead for all 28 strategic health authorities (SHAs) to begin local consultations on boundary changes to SHAs and primary care trusts. Consultations will start on 14 December for a period of 14 weeks (until 22 March). No decisions on boundary changes will be taken until these local consultations have been completed and their outcomes considered by Secretary of State. Until any boundary changes are agreed, it is not possible to calculate the impact on jobs in any one area.
There will be no central budget to finance any cost of severance. Guidance to SHAs is that severance costs should be minimised and, where necessary, financed from in-year management cost savings in 200506, 200607 and 200708.
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Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether (a) her Department and (b) the relevant strategic health authority plans to support a merger of Alder Hey NHS Trust with Liverpool Women's Hospital Foundation Trust. 
Mr. Byrne: Any proposals to merge national health service trusts need to be considered by the local NHS. Once a set of proposals has been produced, the relevant NHS organisation will, as is their duty, consult patients, the public and their representatives.
Andrew Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps she is taking to ensure all NHS patients are made aware of their rights as set out in the NHS Care Records Guarantee; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Byrne: A major public information campaign will be launched in 2006. Its purpose will be to advise patients and the wider public about the implications of the NHS Care Records Service (NHS CRS) for the way in which information about them is held and used. The campaign will provide the information people need to make choices about sharing and accessing their health information. This will cover controls on access by health professionals; how access will be monitored and policed; options people have to further limit access; access in an emergency; and what happens when someone is not able to make decisions for themselves.
We intend to provide front-line national health service staff, including the Patient Advice and Liaison Service and NHS Direct, and also key voluntary sector organisations, with briefing materials and web resources to enable them to answer questions. In addition, a simple explanatory leaflet will be sent to every household in England, available in a range of formats and languages, with an easy-read version for people with learning disabilities and limited literacy.
Other planned initiatives include a series of roadshows to give information face to face and to act as a focus for local publicity, and a short video/DVD to be played in waiting rooms at NHS sites, backed by posters and leaflets.
Mr. Gordon Prentice:
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what discussions she has had with the independent and voluntary sectors about their
19 Dec 2005 : Column 2635W
willingness and preparedness to absorb staff from the primary care trusts as they divest themselves of their provider responsibilities. 
Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will estimate the cost of equalising widowers' entitlement with widows entitlement for pre-1988 members of the NHS superannuation scheme. 
Mr. Byrne: The cost of backdating entitlement to widower's pension before 1988, in respect of active female members of the NHS pension scheme for England and Wales is estimated to lie in the range of £300 to £400 million.
Mr. Byrne: Information on the number of vacancies in the national health service lasting three months or more is collected in the NHS vacancy survey. As at March 2005, there were 5,801 three month vacancies for qualified nurses, which represents a rate of 1.9 per cent. This represents the fourth successive annual fall in vaccines for qualified nurses.
Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) agency and (b) NHS nurses were employed by the NHS in Gravesham constituency in the last year for which figures are available; and what the cost was in each case. 
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Healthwhat the average time taken to process NHSnurses' bursary applications was in (a) 200405 and (b) 200506 to date; and if she will make a statement. 
Paul Rowen: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many students have applied for bursaries for nursing courses which started in September; and to date how many applications have not been processed. 
The average waiting time for nurses' national health service bursary payments in 200405 was five days from the start of the course. Bursary payments in academic year 200405 were made on receipt of a provisional list of students who were expected to enrol at the university. Payment was made by cheque, which was sent to the university for collection by the student.
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The average waiting time for nurses' NHS bursary payments in 200506 is 11 days from the course start date. Bursary payments in academic year 200506 are made on receipt of confirmation of enrolment from the university and by the banks automated clearing system payment into students' bank account.
Universities are required to notify the student grants unit within five working days of the student starting the course. The unit aims to pay students within 10 working days of the start of the course;
|As at 1 April||Pay increase awarded|
|As at 1 April 1997||2.8|
|As at 1 December 1997||(130)4.11|
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