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Health And Personal Social Services

Volume 174: debated on Tuesday 12 June 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what advisory and consultative machinery will be established to represent public and consumer interests on the health and personal social services in Northern Ireland and if he will make a statement.

It is intended, subject to the necessary legislation being made, that there should be four area councils, or health and social services councils as it is proposed they be known, one relating to each health and social services board. Councils will be able to set up sub-committees which may include co-opted members. Each council will appoint its own chairman and will operate within a budget set annually by the Department of Health and Social Services.The duties of a council will include keeping under review the operation of health and social services in its area, making recommendations for improving the services of the relevant board, and commenting on the board's plan, particularly in relation to substantial developments or variations in the provision of services.

The council which relates to the Eastern board will have 30 members, while those relating to the other three boards will have 24. Forty per cent. of the membership of each council will be reserved for district councillors. Each district council will have the right to nominate one member. Membership will also include individuals appointed by the Department of Health and Social Services after consultation with voluntary and community organisations and other interested bodies.

I am confident that the new arrangements will give the public and consumers a strong voice in the provision and development of the health and personal social services.