Extra funding welcome but reform is long-term priority: O’Neill

Date published: 14 June 2016


Health Minister Michelle O’Neill today welcomed an extra £72million for health and social care services but said she remains focused on long-term reform.

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The Minister was speaking after additional funding had been allocated to the Health and Social Care Service in June Monitoring, a process which deals with in-year budget reallocations.

The Minister said: “At a time when a range of important public services are under severe financial pressure, I welcome this additional investment from the Executive for Health and Social Care – this clearly demonstrates the priority my Executive colleagues and I place on this issue. 

“This funding will help address a range of front line pressures right across the health and social care sector, including unscheduled care, improving patient flow through our hospitals and additional social care provision to help meet increasing demands.”

As part of the £72million investment, funding has also been provided for ICT capital for projects such as providing system support for the hearing screening programme for new born babies and the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service 999 response system. 

The Minister continued saying: “While this short-term financial boost is to be welcomed, it is only through longer-term structural reform that we will secure an efficient and effective health and social care service. 

“In my first few days in office I highlighted the need to transform the future of our health care services.  We simply cannot sustain our current model – either in qualitative or financial terms – and we must focus on delivering the change necessary to build a sustainable health service for this and future generations.”

Highlighting the ongoing work on transformation and reform Michelle O’Neill added: “This morning I met with Professor Bengoa, who leads the expert panel on the reform of health and social care, to get an update on his report which will lead the debate on how we can deliver a world-class health service and will form a key part of any change agenda.

“He made it clear that his report is not about closing hospitals, it is about changing the way services are provided.  There needs to be a shift in focus from where services are currently designed around the people who deliver them and the places where they are delivered, to focus on the needs of the patient.”

The Minister concluded saying: “My policy will be to adopt a balanced approach by taking further short-term action combined with longer-term change.  I am committed to the essential transformation and reform of our health service and I welcome the support of my Executive colleagues in ensuring these vital reforms are implemented. 

“I hope that representatives of all political parties can engage on this issue in the debate in a mature and strategic way.  We all must rise above localised issues and concerns, make tough choices and work together if we are to achieve a world-class health and social care service for everyone in the north.”

Notes to editors: 

Media queries about this press release to DoH Press Office on 028 9052 0575, or out of office hours contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 076 9971 5440 and your call will be returned. Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt

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