If the chief executive officer feels that the health board tries to spend more than the allocation, he or she must inform the Department and the board. Is that at the same time or is the board told first?
This section deals with the functions of the chief executive officer in relation to service plans. Subsection (1) requires the chief executive officer to implement a service plan or amended service plan of the health board and to ensure that the net expenditure and indebtedness of the board do not exceed the amounts determined by the Minister. Subsection (2), which the Deputy inquired about, provides that where the chief executive officer forms an opinion that a decision or proposed decision of the board will result in net expenditure or indebtedness exceeding the amounts determined by the Minister, he or she is required to inform the Minister and the board of that opinion. This is intended to ensure the Minister and the board are alerted to possible over-expenditure by a health board, thus preventing the recurrence of the levels of debt built up by health boards in the late 1980s. It is a situation where the chief executive officer would not be bringing forward a programme but a circumstance where a board, by way of motion, were requesting or instructing the chief executive officer to expand plans and carry out certain functions to spend more money. As I envisage the process at that point of debate in the health board, it would be appropriate for the chief executive officer to say that while he or she might agree with what is being done, the service plan would be exceeded and extra net expenditure, which is not in the budget, would be incurred. If the board were then to go ahead and pass the motion, there would be an obligation on the chief executive officer to inform the Minister. That is how it will work in practice.