Page last updated at 17:13 GMT, Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Health Committee

The chair of the health committee, Michelle Gildernew, accused the health department of attempting to impose an English model of funding for community pharmacy "that was never going to work here", on 11 January 2011.

The departmental chief pharmaceutical officer, Dr Norman Morrow, was briefing the committee on pharmacy funding.

A dispute over the contract for community pharmacy had resulted in two judicial reviews, the latest of which resulted in the delivery of a judgement the previous day.

This judgement identified a number of specific failures on the part of the department.

Dr Morrow said the department was concerned with providing fair remuneration for pharmacy services whilst ensuring value-for-money.

He said that agreement had been made more difficult by the judicial reviews, and that the pharmacists were seeking £130m against an available budget of £90m.

The DUP's Pam Lewis wanted to know the cost to the department of the two JRs (judicial reviews).

Dr Morrow said he did not have the figures, but his colleague, Emer Morelli, said the first JR had cost between £100,000 and £108,000.

She said the department did not take either of the JRs.

Michelle Gildernew responded that it was the actions of the department that prompted the legal actions.

Earlier in the meeting, John Cole, a senior official at the health department, briefed the committee on capital spending.

He said that £5bn was needed to upgrade the estate. Many buildings pre-dated the setting-up of the NHS and the service had suffered from years of underinvestment.

Mr Cole said the department had been allocated £856m for capital spend over the budget period and this was "much less than we need".

In reply to a question from Michelle Gildernew, Mr Cole said the department said the use of PFI (private finance) would be considered as a means of funding the long-awaited new children's hospital.

Jim Wells of the DUP said that if the A5 road project were cancelled then health's share of the redistributed capital funding could be £160m.

Health committee membership

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