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Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act (Northern Ireland) 2016

Amendments to general ophthalmic and pharmaceutical services provisions

10.Currently, the HSCB maintains lists of those with whom it has an arrangement to provide either general ophthalmic or pharmaceutical services. These are not lists of individual professional opticians or pharmacists. Rather, they are lists of providers, who may be professionally qualified, but may also be corporate bodies or (for pharmaceutical services) individual non professional providers. Once on a list, these providers are subject to specific terms of service and the HSCB has certain disciplinary powers over them. A Tribunal has the power to suspend and ultimately disqualify a provider from the list.

11.The policy intention of the 2008 Act was to extend the general ophthalmic and pharmaceutical services listing procedures to include pharmacists and opticians employed by providers. At the same time the HSCB and the Tribunal were to have widened powers over all those listed. The Department proposes to revisit this policy and, in the meantime, return the general ophthalmic and pharmaceutical services provisions to their pre 2008 Act position. Any future extension to listing to include all professionals carrying out general ophthalmic services and pharmaceutical services will, dependent on Ministerial and Executive agreement, be subject to detailed policy development, consultation and legislative change. This will require further primary legislation. The relevant amendments are set out in sections 10 and 11 respectively in the Act.

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