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I am very happy to state categorically that in any clinic, even if it has one NHS employee, that employee must have the permission of the NHS commissioners. I will write on this point and lodge the letter in the Library to make it very clear that we eliminate this as an issue that might percolate back to Northern Ireland in a nefarious and bad fashion. Equally, it is important to stress that, should there be an attempt by any private clinic to seek registration, it will not be a simple or quick procedure. Certain obligations must be met, and they will be met very carefully during this period. It is important to stress that anyone who seeks to open a clinic that is not registered or that operates without due diligence will be subject to the criminal law, and that law will be broken if they do that. It is important to appreciate that in Northern Ireland.
Further, any independent practitioner who might wish to set up a practice must register with the Care Quality Commission. Therefore, again, it is not simply a question of wish fulfilment; they must undertake legal obligatory steps. The premises would need to be established and investigated, and it would be necessary to ensure that they met those criteria. I note that the period that we are talking of is five months. I also note that almost anything involving bureaucracy does not get resolved in five months.
It is also important to set out very clearly that guidance has already been issued by the GMC and the royal colleges to the practitioners in Northern Ireland so that they are aware that, should we be unable to form an Executive, those are the conditions under which they will operate. Any noble Lord who wishes to see those conditions can consult the Library or go to GOV.UK. We have been very clear and transparent, ensuring that they are clear.