Page last updated at 17:57 GMT, Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Health Committee

An offer from the health minister intended to resolve a dispute with community pharmacists has been described as "unfair and unreasonable", on 14 March 2012.

In January 2012, as a result of a judicial review, a high court judge ruled that health chiefs had not consulted properly before imposing the cuts to funding for community pharmacy.

Representatives of Community Pharmacy NI (CPNI) explained to the Stormont health committee the reasons why their membership had rejected the latest department of health proposals.

The main reason identified by CPNI's Gerard Greene was "the completely unworkable funding envelope".

He said that a failure to learn the lessons of the dispute would result in the "decimation" of the community pharmacy network.

James McCaughan told the committee that, if the dispute was not resolved, the bank would probably close his business in Armoy, County Antrim.

The committee was briefed by DHSSPS officials on the Mental Health (Private Hospital) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011.

Christine Jendoubi explained that the proposed regulations would apply to private health providers in the case of patients detained under the Mental Health Act.

The same regulations would apply in a private facility as in a statutory hospital.

Committee chair Sue Ramsey of Sinn Fein was concerned about the lack of equality impact assessments, and the DUP's Jim Wells said some people felt this area of treatment should be left to the state.

Mrs Jendoubi said that if the statutory rule was not approved it would mean that any private mental health facilty would be unable to detain patients.

The committee was also briefed on a consultation on Shared Services, a policy that included the concentration of "back office" facilities for the health service in a small number of locations.

Jim Wells was particularly concerned about the proposed transfer of posts from Downpatrick to Ballymena and the resulting difficulties for staff.

Diane Taylor from the department said they would be exploring every avenue to avoid compulsory redundancies.

Health committee membership

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