§ Mr. Flight
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what is his policy with regard to merging the functions of NHS trusts; how many trusts will be involved; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Milburn
Any proposal to merge National Health Service trusts will be considered on its own merits. Most importantly, mergers must lead to benefits for patients in improved health care and lead to savings in management costs.
Proposals for merging NHS trusts are initiated locally. There is no central programme of NHS trust mergers.