First step towards reconfiguration and transformation announced

Date published: 11 November 2016


Health Minister Michelle O’Neill has announced a consultation on the proposed criteria to be used to reconfigure, change and improve our health service.

It is proposed that the seven criteria being consulted on will be used to assess if health services need to be changed and are sustainable. The consultation will run longer than the normal eight weeks to take account of the Christmas period and will include a series of consultation meetings right across the north to allow as many as possible to contribute.

In the Minster’s vision for the future of health and social care, ‘Health and Wellbeing 2026: Delivering Together’, she gave a commitment to embark on a consultation on the criteria for assessing sustainability of health and social care services contained in the Expert Panel report.

Speaking about the consultation, Minister O’Neill said: “We are embarking on a time of major change in Health and Social Care (HSC) in the north and I want to ensure any change is carefully thought through and planned with the input of as many stakeholders as possible.

“The criteria, if adopted, will be at the heart of informing future decisions to be taken about changing health services where their future delivery needs to be improved or where continuation in their present form is unsustainable.

“Where services are unsustainable we may need to change how we manage the service, deliver better services in fewer sites, improve patient pathways or use innovative technologies to achieve better outcomes for patients across the north. All future changes will be designed with the involvement of those who use and those who provide services, and further consultation will be undertaken on specific service changes.”

The Minister continued: “At the heart of this is the core aim of ensuring patients receive the best care available the first time every time, even if that means travelling further for treatment resulting in better health outcomes for the patient, with quicker recovery times and less need for follow up care. It’s so important to get the criteria right at the very beginning of the process, so that we have a clear and transparent framework for assessing how we configure services in the future.  

“I encourage you to have your say. Your views are of great importance and they will be given full consideration in reaching my decision on whether to adopt the criteria which will reconfigure services in the future.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. The criteria set out in the consultation document are:
    • There is evidence that the outcomes for patients using these services are below acceptable levels either in the services as a whole or in particular hospitals, or where there are safety concerns.
    • There is a clear clinical pathway for the patient population. Co-created with patient groups.
    • The service cannot meet professional standards or minimum volumes of activity needed to maintain expertise.
    • The permanent workforce required to safely and sustainably deliver the service is not available/cannot be recruited or retained, or can only be secured with high levels of expensive agency/locum staff.
    • The training of Junior Doctors cannot be provided to acceptable levels.
    • There is an effective alternative ‘out of hospital’ care model or an alternative ‘shared care’ delivery model.
    • The delivery of the service is costing significantly more than that of peers or of alternative ‘out of hospital’ alternatives due to a combination of the above factors
  2. The consultation document can be found at online.
  3. Consultation commences 11 November 2016 and closes 20 January 2017

    Consultation Name:  Consultation on Criteria for Reconfiguring Health and Social Care Services

    Responses should be sent to:
    Reconfiguration Criteria Consultation
    Department of Health
    Room C3.6
    Castle Buildings
    Stormont Estates
    Belfast, BT4 3SQ

    Tel:   (028) 905 20020
    Fax:  (028) 905 22335

  4. Further information on the dates, venues and invitation arrangements for these meetings will be announced shortly.
  5. For media enquiries about this press release, please contact the DoH Press Office on 028 9052 0579. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07623 974383 and your call will be returned. Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt

Share this page

Back to top