Health Minister Edwin Poots today appointed five external advisers to a panel which will provide expert advice and independent assurance on the Review of Health and Social Care Services in Northern Ireland.
The Review, announced in June, is being led by John Compton, Chief Executive of the Health and Social Care Board. The Minister has appointed the five external members to provide advice and challenge, drawing on a range of relevant expertise and skills. He has also published detailed Terms of Reference for the Review.
The Minister said: "It is clear that the full range of health and social care services is unsustainable in its current form if we are to deliver the best outcomes for everyone, and if we are to maintain the highest levels of quality and safety of the services provided. It is important therefore that this Review examines the future provision of services including our acute hospital configuration; the development of primary health care services and social care; and the interfaces between the sectors.
"The Review needs to proceed without delay given the seriousness of the situation facing our health services. However, it must also be evidence-based with robust analyses and conclusions on future service delivery. I have decided therefore to appoint this panel of expert advisers to provide independent assurance to the Review team and myself. The Review will benefit immensely from the experience and knowledge of external members, including backgrounds in health policy and health care, business and academia."
The panel members will be Professor Chris Ham (Chief Executive of the King's Fund), Professor Deirdre Heenan (Provost and Dean of Academic Development at the Magee Campus, University of Ulster), Dr Ian Rutter (General Practitioner), Paul Simpson (retired senior civil servant) and Mark Ennis (Executive Chair of SSE Ireland).
The Minister said the five advisors would bring a wealth of knowledge and skills to this important exercise. He said he wished them well in the tasks ahead and looked forward to the outcome of their efforts in due course.
The Minister also commented on engagement with stakeholders during the course of the Review. He said: "John Compton and his team will be undertaking appropriate consultation and engagement with key stakeholders in the coming weeks.
"It is important that there are opportunities for effective consultation with the public. I would encourage anyone who feels they have a contribution to make, or who wish their voice to be heard, to provide comments."
The Minister has asked the Review Team to report to him by the end of November. He said: "I have set a challenging timescale for the completion of this Review because it is important that clarity is provided urgently on the future direction of health and social care services here. Our system cannot continue to operate as it has done: there are simply not the resources to do so; and action will be required to ensure we provide safe and effective services to the people here for the future."