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Summary

  1. Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride and Chief Nursing Officer Charlotte McArdle briefed the Health Committee.
  2. The Justice Committee was briefed by officials on the work of the department.

Live Reporting

By Robin Sheeran and Laura Trueman

All times stated are UK

The committee adjourns

Pam Cameron adjourns the committee.

Join us on Monday at 12:00 BST for a meet of the full assembly.

Have a great weekend.

Justice buget briefing

Lianne Patterson and Gliyn Capper remain to brief the committee on the departmental budget for 2016-17.

Sickness absence

Doug Beattie
BBC

Ulster Unionist Doug Beattie asks about the scale of sickness absence in the department.

Mary Madden says they have been encountering many more serious cases, citing four staff members in her unit who had no previous sick absence.

"I have one who went out with a stroke, there's two people who have had heart attacks, there's one lady with breast cancer," she says.

Ms Madden says the highest levels of sickness absence are in the operational areas, especially the prison service where officers have an average of 23.8 days a year.

Justice Delivery Directorate

DoJ officials
BBC

Four DoJ officials brief the committee members on the role of the Justice Delivery Directorate.

Legacy Inquests Unit

Alex Attwood
BBC

The SDLP's Alex Attwood asks about proposals around dealing with the past.

He says there are concerns about who can be an investigator for the Historical Investigations Unit, and that the chief constable has said that investigators in the Stakeknife inquiry "would not have any Northern Ireland policing background".

Mr Attwood asks Mr Armour whether there would be any similar concerns about the Legacy Inquests Unit.

"There would certainly be similar issues of concern for the families but it's not an issue that we have addressed thus far," the chief executive says.

He adds that the Courts Service is still awaiting funding for the unit.

Courthouse closures

Ballymena courthouse
BBC

Pam Cameron asks about the judicial review of a decision to close a number of courthouses across Northern Ireland.

Mr Armour says the new Justice Minister, Claire Sugden, has agreed to put the programme on hold until after the judicial review of proposed closures in Strabane, Ballymena and Lisburn.

Courts and Tribunals Service

Ronnie Armour
BBC

Officials are briefing the committee on the work of the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service.

Chief executive Ronnie Armour explains the role of the courts service.

He outlines some of the challenges facing the service; they include budget uncertainty, falling staff numbers and an ageing courts estate.

Mr Armour says that as a result of the voluntary exit scheme they have lost considerable "operational expertise".

Justice Committee

Pam Cameron
BBC

We now join the Justice Committee for this afternoon's live coverage.

The DUP's Pam Cameron is in the chair.

Justice Committee

Coverage of the Justice Committee will begin once the Health Committee meeting finishes.

'Major concerns'

Jo Anne Dobson
BBC

Ulster Unionist Jo-Anne Dobson says there are "major concerns" with regard to changes to the Health and Social Care Board.

The former Health Minister, Simon Hamilton, announced in March that he would abolish the board.

Elaine Way of the Western Trust says "there is great collaboration" between the trusts and "all organisations in the system".

"The patient and the client are at the centre of all our work," she adds.

Health and Social Care Trust briefing

Representatives of Northern Ireland's Health and Social Care Trusts
BBC

Representatives of Northern Ireland's Health and Social Care Trusts are now briefing the committee.

Elaine Way, the Chief Executive of the Western Health and Social Care Trust, welcomes the news that that the health service is to receive an extra £72m to help deal with pressures in the service.

McBride responds to study

BBC NI Health Correspondent Marie-Louise Connolly tweets:

UUP MLA adopts casual approach

BBC NI producer Dermot Wynne tweets:

Cancer drugs fund

The chief medical officer is asked about a cancer drugs fund for Northern Ireland.

Dr McBride says there is a mechanism in Northern Ireland whereby drugs, which have not been approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), can be requested on an individual basis by clinicians.

In terms of extending this, he says "these are really difficult decisions".

"Many of these drugs are extremely high cost. One cannot lose sight of the human aspects of this, but equally we need to be mindful of the population basis for the decisions we need."

Health priorities

BBC NI Health Correspondent Marie-Louise Connolly tweets:

Meningitis B vaccine

Vaccination
Thinkstock

Dr McBride is questioned about a shortage of supply of the Meningitis B vaccine available from private hospitals.

He says this "is now resolving itself" and only affected those choosing to have the vaccination privately and did not affect those under the care of the Health Service.

"I think there was an underestimate in terms of what the likely potential demand would be," he says.

All babies in the UK are offered a potentially life-saving vaccine against meningitis B as part of a national immunisation programme.

However, there have been calls for the age limit to be extended to children and teenagers.

'We're not Brazil'

Dr McBride says he wants to steal a football analogy in terms of healthcare in Northern Ireland.

"We're not Brazil, we're Northern Ireland," he says.

"I want to communicate what we do well. We are not very good at acknowledging the things we do really, really well."

Rise in NI life expectancy

medical chart
Thinkstock

Dr McBride highlights where his priorities lie.

He says that year on year, from 1991, Northern Ireland has seen a three month increase in life expectancy for every man and a two month increase for women.

"That's good news, we're all living longer but we still see very significant health inequalities and sadly that is reflected in areas of social deprivation," he says.

He adds that this results in higher rates of cancer, heart disease and suicide and "that is something we need to fundamentally address".

Hillsborough campaigners on Bloody Sunday visit

BBC Radio Foyle tweets

Briefing begins

Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride and Chief Nursing Officer Charlotte McArdle
BBC

Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride and Chief Nursing Officer Charlotte McArdle begin briefing the committee on their roles.

Good morning

Thanks for joining our coverage of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

This morning, the Health Committee will receive a briefing from the Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael McBride, and Chief Nursing Officer, Charlotte McArdle, on an overview of their responsibilities.