Members below transcript of a letter to Mr Robin Swann, Minister for Health from NIPSA Assistant Secretary Maria Morgan on behalf of the NIPSA Central Health Panel.

We refer to your letter of 9 June 2020 within which you invite ’soundings’ on proposed amendments to the Framework document.

We note that you proposed to invite those soundings and then commence a 12-week consultation on any significant matter which emerges from the soundings.

Firstly, we take issue with the manner in which it is proposed that consultation will take place. The duty to conduct a lawful consultation is clear. In this case, what is required is as follows:

  • The consultation must commence when the matter is at a formative stage;
  • The consultee must be given sufficient information to understand the proposal and respond;
  • The consultee must be afforded adequate time to respond; and
  • The response must be contentiously taken into account.

In this instance, we received proposed revisions to the Framework Document on 9 June 2020. Responses outlining simply our soundings were sought by 16 June 2020.

Whilst we did put together our initial response we were not afforded an adequate time to do so.

Further, our soundings are simply sought and, thereafter, a consultation will take place in relation to a significant matter that emerges. This is not how the consultation should be conducted.

Rather, we should simply be provided with the proposed amendments together with accompanying information; we should be provided an adequate time to respond and our response should be considered. To simply request soundings in the first instance with a view to person’s unknown determining if the soundings reveal a significant issue, is inadequate and irregular.

Secondly and more generally, we have concerns as to the mechanism through which it is proposed these amendments be made and the compatibility with the duties under the delegated schemes of the Health and Personal Services (NI) Order 1972.

Thirdly, we have concerns about the duty of both the Department and the Health Trusts to undertake their legal obligations under Section 75 of the NI Act which is central to policy making and service delivery.

Please confirm how these issues have been considered?

By virtue of the forgoing, we request that you confirm by return that you will conduct the consultation in the appropriate manner as outlined above.

We look forward to hearing from you on these urgent and important issues

Yours sincerely

Maria Morgan
Assistant Secretary

On behalf of NIPSA Central Health Panel