Health Minister Simon Hamilton today announced the creation of a £30million health and care Transformation Fund.
The £30million Transformation Fund will be invested in projects and initiatives which are focussed on innovation, prevention and collaboration within the sector.
Speaking during a visit to the Regional Medicines Optimisation Innovation Centre, which is located in Antrim Area Hospital, Mr Hamilton said: “If we are to meet the challenges of an ageing population, a growth in chronic conditions and unhealthy lifestyles, and embrace the opportunities created by new technologies and treatments, we must increase the pace at which we are transforming our health service. The pressure on day to day services can make this transformation challenging to deliver. That is why I said in November we need to pursue a separate, ring-fenced Transformation Fund and I am delighted to announce it today.”
The Minister announced in November 2015 his intention to seek significant additional funding for health and social care and to earmark a sizeable amount of any additional funding for a Transformation Fund. In December the 2016/17 Executive Budget allocated an additional £129million to health and social care.
The Minister continued: “Transforming how services are delivered, encouraging even more innovation and investing in world class facilities will help us to realise the vision set out in Transforming Your Care and make progress on developing the world class health and social care system I aspire to.
“That’s why I have announced this substantial fund. Its specific purpose is to fund innovative projects that will not only improve outcomes for patients and people but also save money that will be redirected to other frontline services. It is only by investing in innovation and transforming how services are delivered that we can conquer the challenges facing Health and make the system more efficient and sustainable in the long term.”
The first allocation from the £30million fund will provide £2.3million to support the implementation of a new Medicines Optimisation Quality Framework (MOQF) for Northern Ireland, which the Minister also launched today. The MOQF aims to support better health and wellbeing for all people in Northern Ireland through improvements in the appropriate, safe and effective use of medicines.
Speaking about the first allocation Mr Hamilton said: “There are over 39 million prescription items supplied each year, and medicines cost our health service a total of over £550million each year, however evidence shows that people don’t always gain the expected benefits from their treatment. For example around 30-50% of people with long term conditions do not take their medicines as prescribed, 1 in 15 hospital admissions are medicines related and an estimated £18million worth of medicines are wasted annually.
“This £2.3million investment from the Health and Social Care Transformation Fund will support a strategic innovation and change programme to implement this new framework. It’s vital that we focus on helping people to achieve the best possible health outcome each time a medicine is taken. This is important, not least because it will improve their own wellbeing but also because taking the right medicines can lower chances of admission or readmission to hospital and reduce the length of stay. By impacting on these outcomes this investment has the potential to provide a return of up to £4million which can be directed towards other health pressures.
The Minister continued: “My visit to the Medicines Optimisation Innovation Centre today has highlighted how innovation can be achieved through the development of new service and technology solutions in collaboration and partnership with industry. I want to build on this approach through implementation of the Medicines Optimisation Quality Framework, supported by the Transformation Fund.
“A process is being established to consider proposals from those with innovative and transformative ideas, but this will take time and until it is finalised and in place, my Department will allocate sums to key transformation projects to ensure all funding is fully utilised. I intend to announce other strands of the Transformation Fund in due course.”