Page last updated at 15:43 GMT, Wednesday, 8 June 2011 16:43 UK

Health Committee

The health minister told MLAs he intended to make some major announcements regarding the future of the health service ahead of the assembly's summer recess, on 8 June 2011.

Speaking to the health committee, Edwin Poots said it was obvious that the department had been in a period of flux and things needed to move rapidly.

The minister said money for acute services was being spread too thinly over too many hospital sites.

Other subjects for discussion included forthcoming legislation on mental health and adoption.

Committee chair Michelle Gildernew of Sinn Fein wanted to know what steps had been taken to avoid a repetition of the situation in the old Belvoir Park Hospital where patient files and x-rays had been stolen and offered for sale on the internet.

The minister said he deplored the security breaches that had taken place.

He said it was beyond him why the Belfast Trust had held on to the Belvoir Park site for five or six years after closure when it could have been sold for profit.

The DUP's Jim Wells observed that £160,000 had been spent on electricity because no-one had remembered to switch the hospital equipment off.

In reply to a question from the SDLP's Mark H Durkan about cross-border co-operation, the minster said for him it was a matter of health, not politics.

The DUP's Pam Lewis asked about improvements at Antrim Area Hospital. Mr Poots said the department intended to build a new accident and emergency centre at the hospital.

The committee than heard from the Children's's Commissioner, Patricia Lewsley about arrangements for the vetting and barring of people who pose a risk to children.

Health committee membership

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