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Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to her comments in The Guardian of 11 May 2006 on support for overspending trusts, if she will agree to write off the £11.27 million deficit of the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Trust. 
It is the responsibility of strategic health authorities (SHAs) both to deliver overall financial balance for their local health communities and to ensure each and every body achieves financial balance. However, there is a degree of flexibility in how this is managed at a local level. SHAs can agree a recovery plan which phases the recovery of deficits over a number of years. This would require other NHS organisations within the health economy to under spend over the same period. Any such arrangements would have to be subject to the agreement of local providers, commissioners and the managing SHA.
Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what assessment she has made of the effect that system interoperability would have on the costs of the NHS information technology programme; 
Caroline Flint: The strategy for the national programme for information technology requires a consistent information architecture that can make patient treatment information available when and where it is needed. This does not rely on a single information system but involves the integration of multiple systems and applications operating together within that architecture to functional and technical interoperability standards.
Contracts with local service providers require them to ensure their systems and services meet these standards. This requirement covers interoperability both between systems and between localities, with the aim of supporting clinical networks and patient flows across communities, as well as providing the flexibility to meet emerging models of care that provide plurality of supply, choice and convenience for patients. Interoperability standards are shared with existing suppliers who are able to demonstrate compliance.
The commercial and organisational models chosen for delivering the national programme have produced exceptional value for the taxpayer by avoiding multiple procurements and significantly reducing unit costs for applications and systems.
Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what assessment she has made of the merits of using service-oriented architecture in the NHS information technology programme; 
Caroline Flint: Service-oriented architecture has been in use for well over a decade in large enterprises, and encouragement has been given to the use of its design principles in connection with the development of national programme for information technology systems and services wherever doing so would improve the quality of the product. There have been no material changes in service-oriented architecture since the procurement phase of the national programme, and there is therefore no obvious scope for its impacting on competition for the provision of services at this stage.
Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what the annual cost of the NHS information technology programme is to (a) primary care trusts, (b) NHS trusts and (c) other NHS organisations; 
(2) what percentage of the budget of (a) primary care trusts, (b) NHS trusts and (c) other NHS organisations she expects to be spent on the NHS IT programme in (i) 2006-07 and (ii) in the next five years. 
Caroline Flint: Information about local national health service spending by primary care trusts, NHS trusts and other NHS organisations on the national programme for information technology to complement the investment from central funding is not collected centrally. A survey of total NHS information technology (IT) expenditure is conducted annually and the results are published on the NHS Connecting for Health's website at
There is no specific numerical target for year-on-year spending by NHS organisations on the programme. However, we have always made it clear that we anticipate the NHS as a whole increasing its overall spending on IT broadly in line with the recommendations in the 2002 Wanless report.
Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 9 January 2006, Official Report, column 146W, on NHS Reconfiguration, what estimate she has made of the total cost involved in the structural reorganisation of strategic health authorities. 
Andy Burnham: Total costs of change are dependent on a number of factors, including the number of new organisations, number of people in the new organisations and their pay as well as changes in estate costs following reconfiguration. When complete the reconfiguration of strategic health authorities will cost less to run than the previous arrangements and free resources for frontline services.
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if a Minister in her Department will meet a delegation of hon. Members, speech and language therapists and parents to discuss the future of the Nuffield speech and language unit. 
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of the arrangements to publicise the public consultation on the future of the Nuffield speech and language unit; and what discussions she has had since 25 April 2006 with the Royal Free hospital on its conduct of that consultation. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: No discussions have been held since 25 April 2006 with the Royal Free hospital on its conduct on the public consultation on the future of the Nuffield speech and language unit and no assessments have been made of the trusts arrangements to publicise the consultation.
It is the duty of the local national health service to involve and consult patients, the public and their representatives in the planning of services, the development of proposals to change services and in decisions affecting the operation of services.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans she has to allow nurses to prescribe medicines to patients without the consent of a doctor; if she will list the medicines nurses will be allowed to prescribe; what consultation she has undertaken; what representations she has received; and if she will make a statement. 
Andy Burnham: Over 29,000 community practitioner nurse prescribers are able to prescribe from a list of dressings, appliances and some medicines for patients in the community. These are listed in Part XVIIB(i) of the Drug Tariff.
Nearly 7,000 qualified nurse independent prescribers are able to prescribe any licensed medicine independently for any medical condition within their competence, including some controlled drugs that are listed in the Drug Tariff in Part XVIIB(ii).
Regulations to enable this came into effect on 1 May 2006, following public consultation beginning on 28 February 2005, which examined options for the future of nurse prescribing. A summary of responses to this consultation is publicly available on the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency's website at www.mhra.gov.uk, a copy of which will be placed in the Library.
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The following table shows the number of nurses and doctors there were in the North West London area in 1997 and 2004. Information on the number of doctors and nurses in 2005 was available on 24 April 2006. The 2006 work force census will be conducted in September 2006.
|n/a = not available.|
Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what funding has been allocated to the Patient and Public Involvement Resource Centre; when she expects the Resource Centre to begin its work; and if she will make a statement. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: The Department is looking for a supplier to design, develop and have operational responsibility for a new centre to support the delivery of patient and public involvement in the healthcare delivery system. The procurement process is ongoing and until it is complete, we are unable to provide further details as they are commercially sensitive.
Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the budget is for the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health in 2006-07; and what she estimates the cost of abolishing the commission by the summer of 2007 to be. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: The budget for the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health (CPPIH) for the financial year 2006-07 has recently been agreed at £28 million. The budget for 2007-08 will not be set until later in the current financial year.
The cost of abolishing the CPPIH, including staff redundancy costs, will be contained within the overall budgets for 2006-07 and 2007-08 with final costs being assessed later in the year when the full implications for the CPPIH of the recent review of patient and public involvement have been assessed.
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