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17—(1) The Patient and Client Council has the following functions as respects the provision of health and social care in Northern Ireland—
(a)representing the interests of the public;
(b)promoting involvement of the public;
(c)providing assistance (by way of representation or otherwise) to individuals making or intending to make a complaint relating to health and social care for which a body to which this section applies is responsible;
(d)promoting the provision by bodies to which this section applies of advice and information to the public about the design, commissioning and delivery of health and social care;
(e)such other functions as may be prescribed.
(2) In exercising its functions under subsection (1)(a), the Patient and Client Council must—
(a)consult the public about matters relating to health and social care; and
(b)report the views of those consulted to the Department (where it appears to the Council appropriate to do so) and to any other body to which this section applies appearing to have an interest in the subject matter of the consultation.
(3) In exercising its functions under subsection (1)(b), the Patient and Client Council shall promote the involvement of the public in consultations or processes leading (or potentially leading) to decisions by a body to which this section applies which would or might affect (whether directly or not) the health and social well-being of the public.
(4) In exercising its functions under subsection (1)(c), the Patient and Client Council shall arrange, to such extent as it considers necessary to meet all reasonable requirements, for the provision (by way of representation or otherwise) of assistance to individuals making or intending to make a complaint of a prescribed description.
(5) The Patient and Client Council shall—
(a)undertake research and conduct investigations into the best methods and practices for consulting the public about, and involving them in, matters relating to health and social care; and
(b)provide advice regarding those methods and practices to bodies to which this section applies.
(6) The Patient and Client Council must publish any report under subsection (2)(b) in such manner as the Department may direct.
(7) In this section “the public” includes individuals, a group or community of people and a section of the public, however selected.
(8) This section and sections 18 and 19 apply to—
(b)the Regional Board;
(c)the Regional Agency;
(d)HSC trusts; and
(9) For the purposes of this section and sections 18 to 20 a body is responsible for health and social care—
(a)if the body provides or will provide that care to individuals; or
(b)if another person provides, or will provide, that care to individuals—
(i)at that body's direction;
(ii)on its behalf; or
(iii)in accordance with an agreement or arrangements made by that body with that other person;
and references to the provision of care include references to the provision of care jointly with another person.
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