Key report on health reform completed
The independent report commissioned into the state of Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland – and how best it can survive and thrive – has been completed.
The team led by Professor Rafael Bengoa has delivered its verdict on the future of HSC to new Health Minister Michelle O’Neill.
Scope has written extensively about the parlous condition of our health system and about how local politics, the media and community pressure – even when well intentioned – was undermining it, and pointing it towards meltdown.
The minister plans to consider the report and also to draw up her own response before publishing both in the autumn. We have an ageing population and an increasing proportion of people who are living with long-term conditions that require help. This means that demand is shooting up at rate much higher than the existing model can cope with, purely through increased investment.
Drastic changes to increase service efficiency are required and the first signs are hopeful.
Ms O’Neill said: “Provided I can secure the necessary resources, I plan to use this work as a foundation for my own vision for the long term future of health and social care in the north. I will publish my vision this autumn, alongside the Panel’s report, and aim to begin translating the political and public discussion about reform of health and social care into concrete proposals for transforming these important services.”
In a lengthy interview with the BBC, she expanded further on this – while the report itself is a much more accurate representation of the issues than might have occurred in the past, when the media itself was an inadvertent blockage on reform, for a number of reasons.
Prof. Bengoa himself also saw fit to strike a hopeful note: “In the course of our work we have been able to talk to people from different parts of the health and social care system and we have been struck by the consistency of the messages we have received. There is a strong appetite for reform and there now seems to be a clear window of opportunity to harness this energy and drive transformation forward.”
The minister’s announcement in autumn should be keenly awaited.
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