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19 Dec 2005 : Column 2633W—continued

NHS Reconfiguration

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. [36701]

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 2005–06, 2006–07 and 2007–08.
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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. [37315]

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.

NHS Records

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. [34982]

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.

Preparatory work to inform front-line NHS staff about the NHS CRS has already begun. Some one million leaflets have been distributed, along with posters and DVDs.

Final details of timing and phasing of the campaign have yet to be determined, but the main period of activity is expected to be in mid 2006.

NHS Staff

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what her most recent estimate is of the total number of staff who have left employment in the NHS in a year. [36435]

Mr. Byrne: Information on numbers of staff leaving the national health service is not collected centrally.

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what discussions she has had with the independent and voluntary sectors about their
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willingness and preparedness to absorb staff from the primary care trusts as they divest themselves of their provider responsibilities. [21875]

Mr. Byrne: None. Any such discussions would be a local matter for primary care trusts.

NHS Superannuation Scheme

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. [35175]

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.


Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many nursing vacancies there are, broken down by grade. [32068]

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.

Information on vacancies for qualified nurses is not collected by grade.

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. [36957]

Caroline Flint: The information requested is not collected centrally.

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Healthwhat the average time taken to process NHSnurses' bursary applications was in (a) 2004–05 and (b) 2005–06 to date; and if she will make a statement. [29705]

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. [30574]

Mr. Byrne: The following information has been provided by the NHS Pensions Agency who are responsible for the student grants unit.

The average waiting time for nurses' national health service bursary payments in 2004–05 was five days from the start of the course. Bursary payments in academic year 2004–05 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 2005–06 is 11 days from the course start date. Bursary payments in academic year 2005–06 are made on receipt of confirmation of enrolment from the university and by the banks automated clearing system payment into students' bank account.

There could be several reasons for delayed payment:

11,941 students have applied for bursaries for nursing courses which started in September 2005, all of which have now been processed.

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what pay increases have been awarded to auxiliary nurses in each year since May 1997. [34134]

Mr. Byrne: The information requested is in the table.

As at 1 AprilPay increase awarded
As at 1 April 19972.8
As at 1 December 1997(130)4.11

(130)Relative to 1 April 1996 national scales.
(131)Or £400, whichever is greater.

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