The Health Minister is to introduce measures to pay patient representatives after the Government was accused of "exploiting" those who give up their time to help improve the health service.
Simon Harris has confirmed that he is working on policy to ensure patient advocates are supported and remunerated properly for the work they carry out.
It comes after CervicalCheck patient representatives, Stephen Teap and Lorraine Walsh, said they each volunteered 340 hours - or the equivalent of two working months of their time - in a single year.
Launching the roll-out of HPV vaccinations for all first-year pupils, Mr Harris said: "In relation to patient advocates being remunerated yes, absolutely we will be publishing a policy, probably within the next month, certainly by the end of October in relation to how we intend to support patient representatives, we have now thankfully, patient reps sitting on so many committees, we see examples of that today as well, it's important that their time is paid for."
Dr Gabriell Scally, who investigated the smear test controversy, previously said patient reps are "the only people around the table at important meetings who are giving up their time on an entirely voluntary basis".
"That is wrong, in fact, it is exploitation and must be corrected as soon as possible," said Dr Scally.
While Mr Harris said he would not discuss the circumstances of individual people who act on behalf of patients, he said he wants to see representatives paid for their work: "I've been in discussions as to how we can put interim arrangements in place and they are very much aware of those details. I don't wish to discuss it publicly," he said when questioned on comments made by Mr Teap and Ms Walsh.