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Beggs reveals scale of outstanding health decisions awaiting Ministerial sign-off

Ulster Unionist Health Spokesperson, Roy Beggs MLA, has revealed that there are currently 19 health strategies and pieces of legislation that have been delayed due to a lack of a functioning Assembly and Executive.

Roy Beggs said:

“It is scandalous that within the Department of Health alone there are so many pieces of legislation and key strategies stalled due to there not being a Minister in place to sign them off.

“The list of issues, which were only revealed after the Ulster Unionist Party sought them directly from the Department using Freedom of Information legislation, is extensive and includes key decisions such as the publication of Northern Ireland’s next suicide prevention strategy; something which had been expected for publication in 2017.

"Even the 2018/19 pay award for our doctors and nurses remains up in the air, despite being already finalised in England, Scotland and Wales. We are now half way through the financial year without a local decision.

“Another key decision outstanding are what actions are required to live within Budget for 2019/20. The last time the Health Department used language like that was in summer 2017 when each of Northern Ireland’s five health trusts announced sweeping cuts in a desperate attempt to make £70m of emergency savings. As I recently said in a submission to the NI Affairs Select Committee at Westminster – the later changes are left in the health service the higher the impact it has on frontline patient services.

“Most of the issues in the list however are non-contentious and have cross-party support yet they can’t be advanced simply because there is no mechanism in place in the absence of an Executive.

“The Secretary of State has allowed the stalemate to run on for far too long. Most, if not all, of these delays could have been avoided had she acted much quicker to put some form of decision making in place before now.

“Of course there are many, many other outstanding issues in the local health service – the 19 I have been told about are mainly just those that had been planned prior to the collapse of the Executive. In the 600 days since the collapse of the Assembly our waiting times crisis has deepened to the extent that patients are coming to harm, thousands of positions across the health service are vacant and the gap between demand and capacity of the local system has widened even further.

“Without a Minister in place to take and implement health decisions, our waiting lists will continue to get even longer and the community will suffer.   The Prime Minister has a responsibility to everyone in the UK.  A meeting of the Assembly should be called and if local politicians fail to appoint a functioning Executive, the Prime Minster needs to step in and appoint a direct rule Health Minister to end the drift in healthcare.”


Notes to Editors:

Legislation, strategies, or other initiatives with planned introductions that have been delayed, or haven’t been introduced or implemented due to a lack of a functioning Assembly and Executive; 

Strategy or other issue;

Decisions on actions required to live within Budget for 2019/20

The adoption of draft criterion for reconfiguration of HSC services and the revision of extant guidance awaits future Ministerial consideration

Agree policy statement on future of GP services, responding to GP-led Care Review

Decision on approach to passported benefits criteria under universal credit

Determination of financial envelope for community pharmacy

Bamford Evaluation awaiting final Ministerial/Executive approval

Commencement and implementation of the Mental Capacity Act (NI) 2016 and publication of MCA Code of Practice

Agreement on the way forward in relation to Introduction of Minimum Unit Pricing for Alcohol in Northern Ireland:

Agree to seek Executive approval for the publication of the Protect Life 2 suicide prevention strategy

Agreement to implement proposals for Alternative placement options for Looked After Children

Agreement to implement recommendations from the Review of Regional Children’s Specialist Facilities

Agreement to publish the Strategy for Looked after Children

18/19 HSC Pay Award/Agenda for Change Reform


Amendments to Pharmaceutical Regulations, 1997

Agreement to make regulations to restrict the sale of e-cigarettes to persons over the age of 18 and to publish the Department’s response to the recent consultation on the draft regulations

Agreement to make regulations to ban smoking in cars when a person under the age of 18 is present and to publish the Department’s response to the consultation on the draft regulations

Consideration of options on legislation to support breastfeeding in public places       

Agreement to make The Foster Placement and Fostering Agencies Regulations (Northern Ireland)

Agreement to make The Regulation and Improvement Authority (Fees and Frequency of Inspections) Regulations (Northern Ireland)




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