To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans he has to simplify the process of negotiating contracts and funding for private care organisations involved in rehabilitation and management of debilitating illness. 
It is the responsibility of the health and social services boards and trusts at operational level to negotiate and agree contracts for the provision of residential and domiciliary care by the independent sector. To assist in this process, the four Board Chief Executives have established a regional group to make recommendations on the appropriate fee levels for care in residential and nursing homes. Recommendations on residential and nursing home fees are based on the level of need across each of the programmes of care. In each of the last three years, the recommendations of the regional group have been endorsed by the Department and accepted as the agreed regional rates by the four boards. Rates for domiciliary care provision are currently negotiated at board and trust level with independent sector providers.