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Southport Reporter®

Edition No. 189

Date:- 26 February 2005

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THE landmark Civil Partnership Act will be brought into force on 5 December this year. Any couple wishing to form a civil partnership will be able to give notice of their intention to register at a Register Office from that date. This will allow the first civil partnerships to be formed in time for Christmas on 21 December, after the 15 day waiting period has passed. Some Register Offices in areas such as Brighton, Newcastle, Liverpool, Birmingham and the London Borough of Camden have already started to take expressions of interest from couples interested in forming a civil partnership after the Act comes into force.

Deputy Women and Equality Minister Jacqui Smith said:- "I know how much this legislation means to a great many same-sex couples across the country who are eager to finally get legal recognition for their relationships.

This legislation is going to make a real difference to these couples and it demonstrates the Government's commitment to equality and social justice.

I hope this Act will help create a more equal society. It opens the way to respect, recognition and justice for those who have been denied it for too long."

The Civil Partnership Act allows same-sex couples to make a formal, legal commitment to each other by forming a civil partnership. At present, same-sex couples have no way of gaining formal legal recognition for their relationship and as a result suffer a range of problems in their everyday lives.

Important rights and responsibilities will flow from entering a civil partnership, helping same-sex couples to organise their lives together.

Provisions in the Act include:-

* employment and pension benefits;
* recognition under intestacy rules;
* access to fatal accidents compensation;
* recognition for immigration and nationality purposes.
* a duty to provide reasonable maintenance for your civil partner and any children of the family;
* civil partners to be assessed in the same way as spouses for child support;
* equitable treatment for the purposes of life assurance;

The process of entering into a civil partnership will be administered by the local registration service. On the day of registration, each member of the couple will sign in the presence of the registration officer and 2 witnesses. The Act also allows for same-sex couples that have entered legally recognised overseas relationships to be treated as civil partners in the United Kingdom.

There will be a formal, court-based process for dissolution of a civil partnership. Implementation involves significant changes in many areas, for example in court rules, the registration service as well as training and guidance for employers. These changes will be put in place over the course of this year.

Think Clean Week - new action for cleaner, safer hospitals
Issued by Matthew King, Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust.

THE National NHS Think Clean Day will take place in trusts across the country on Monday 28 February. It is designed to promote a team approach to cleaning and infection control and demonstrate what can be achieved in a short length of time. 

Because Southport & Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust consider cleaning and infection control one of its top priorities, we have decided to extend Think Clean Day to Think Clean Week. Modern Matrons Shirley Coward and Sheena Walker, Lynne Shaw Hotel Services Manager and the Infection Control Team are heading the campaign within the Trust.

The learning from the week will be used to inform longer term planning, which is central to tackling MRSA and other healthcare-associated infections and improving standards of hygiene across the NHS.

"Trusts are being asked to bring together staff from both clinical and non-clinical departments to undertake an audit of at least one ward or department looking at the environment and identifying any problems areas. We will be carrying out 16 audits throughout the week at both Hospitals in Southport and Ormskirk. The groups then have to try to remedy as many problems as possible at the time or if they can't, develop an action plan to deal with longer-term problems."
said Joanne Baines, Specialist Nurse in Infection Control. 

The Department of Health hopes trusts will use the audits as a spur to longer-term action and that staff in all disciplines will work together effectively and see that everyone has a part to play in cleanliness and infection control. 

"Another initiative we are carrying out is to 'Ditch the Junk
'. This involves identifying pieces of equipment that are no longer needed and getting rid of them. The aim is to reduce the amount of clutter in the hospitals, so making it easier to keep them clean." Shirley Coward Paediatric Service Manager and Matron.

The Think Clean Day is an initiative between local trusts, the Department of Health, UNISON, and other key partners including the Royal College of Nursing, to raise the profile and importance of hygiene issues in hospitals. But it is just one part of an ongoing, and much bigger, stream of work towards achieving cleaner hospitals. For example The Matron's Charter:- An Action Plan for Cleaner Hospitals that was launched last October. 

Last July, plans were published to cut the level of healthcare-associated infections like MRSA and improve general hygiene standards. Towards Cleaner Hospitals and Lower Rates of Infection set out clear action for the Department of Health and NHS including cleanliness inspections by patient forums and a new target for reducing MRSA rates year-on-year for every acute trust. New guidance to ensure hospitals have clear and binding contracts to deliver high standards of cleaning was published in December.


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