A new model for Northern Ireland’s Health and Social Care Services is designed to improve patient outcomes and drive up quality of care, Edwin Poots said today.
Speaking in the Assembly as he unveiled Transforming Your Care, A Review of Health and Social Care, the Health Minister said: "The Report contains a compelling set of proposals for the future of health and social care services in Northern Ireland. It proposes a model which puts the individual at the centre. Health and social care services will be increasingly accessible in local areas. Patients will have to deal with fewer professionals and will be at the centre of decision making about their treatment. There will be a significant shift from provision of services in hospitals to provision of services in the community, in the GP surgery, closer to home, where it is safe and effective to do this.”
The Review of Health and Social Care was carried out by a team chaired by John Compton and advised by a panel of independent experts. Over 3,000 people contributed to the Review. Its main recommendations are: more care delivered in the home; changing care packages for people in nursing homes; increased role of the GP; increased role of pharmacy in medicines management and prevention; increased use of community and social care services to meet people’s needs; and outreach of acute services into the community.
Mr Poots said that the Review had set out evidence for a need to change. The current model was not sustainable and, if maintained, would not be able to provide effective patient care. He said: "We must stop doing what does not work, challenge out-of-date practices and acknowledge that some of our services are no longer fit for purpose. The system needs to change. Our services need to be resilient, sustainable and safe.”
Mr Poots said that to continue as we are would leave us with an unsustainable service with consequences for patient care and safety. He said there is no 'do-nothing' option.
The Health Minister said that the challenge of the review team was to examine the future provision of services, including acute hospital configuration, the development of primary healthcare services and social care and the interface between sectors to meet our priorities.
The report recommends that each Local Commissioning Groups should draw up specific proposals for hospitals in their areas that meet the principles and criteria laid down by the Review team. It is the report’s view that it is likely only to be possible to provide resilient, sustainable major acute services on five to seven sites. This assumes that the Belfast Trust hospitals are regarded as one network of major acute services.
The Minister added: "This envisages a significant shift in where funding is allocated. This change will not be straight forward. It will require fundamental changes to the way we deliver services and will require substantial re-training of staff. It is about quality, accessibility and safety of patient care.
“This Review has been a wide-ranging and major piece of work which will affect how we all use our Health Service. I will consult fully with the public on any major reconfiguration of services that I intend to take forward.”
The Minister concluded: “I want to thank John Compton for leading the work of this Review, the independent panel members for their challenging and thoughtful contributions, the support team who have worked so hard to produce this report in a very demanding timetable and everyone who contributed comment or input through meetings, discussions and correspondence. Over 3,000 people contributed to this review and I want to express my gratitude to each and every person.”