Major plans for new elective care centres in Northern Ireland have been spelt out by the Department of Health in a newly published report.
The report provides a one-year update on the elective care strategy to tackle hospital waiting times in Northern Ireland.
It gives a frank assessment of the budgetary challenges that are inextricably linked to current unacceptable waiting times.
Details are provided on the factors behind increased waiting times from 2014 and the ongoing need for additional funding to mitigate the problem.
However, the progress report also contains a positive message on transformation initiatives which, if implemented across Northern Ireland, would enable quicker access to high quality care.
These include the detailed development of plans for new elective care centres – stand-alone units that will deliver large volumes of assessments and non-complex routine surgery.
Noting that a clinically led review team has backed a new regional model of care for daycase elective surgery, today’s report states:
“The proposed model will result in future Elective Daycase procedures being delivered in a small number of regional centres located across NI. While some patients will be asked to travel further for their treatment the patient population overall should benefit by receiving more rapid assessment, more timely care and enhanced outcomes.”
It is intended to have new centres up and running by December 2020.
The update report also shows transformation of health care becoming a reality on the ground – with innovations to provide patients with appropriate primary care alternatives to hospital referral. Such initiatives can enable patients to receive high quality assessment and treatment more quickly in their local GP surgery. This will also help to free up appointments and treatment for urgent and complex cases in secondary care.
Encouraging a shift towards primary care is a central goal of the Delivering Together 10-year transformation roadmap published in October 2016.
Examples cited in today’s report include the provision of an increasing number of minor surgical procedures being undertaken by primary care professionals outside a hospital setting. By the end of March 2018, for example, a GP-led vasectomy service will be in place in at least one Trust area for rollout to other areas during 2018/19.
Another developing initiative involves Dermatology Photo-Triage – this will mean that when patients see their GP about a suspicious lesion, a photograph can be reviewed by a consultant to determine the best course of treatment.
Rolling out these new ways of working across Northern Ireland will require funding support, as part of the drive to transform care.
Notes to editors:
- The progress report can be accessed on the Department of Health website.
- For media queries please contact the Department of Health Press Office on 028 9052 0575 or email email@example.com. For out of hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07623 974383 and your call will be returned. Follow us on twitter @healthdpt.
- Coronavirus (Covid-19) Infection Survey, Northern Ireland: Weekly Report 05 August 2022
- Release of Northern Ireland inpatient, day case and outpatient hospital statistics for 2021/22 04 August 2022
- Coronavirus (Covid-19) Infection Survey, Northern Ireland: Weekly Report 29 July 2022
- New digital strategy will unlock opportunities for health service improvements 28 July 2022