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Health Minister welcomes Professor Rafael Bengoa to chair expert panel on Healthcare Reform

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Health Minister Simon Hamilton today welcomed Professor Rafael Bengoa to Northern Ireland as the expert panel chair to lead the debate on the future configuration of Health and Social Care.

Mr Bengoa, a former Basque country Minister will lead the expert panel of 6 which will draw on the experience of people working in Northern Ireland but use international expertise as appropriate.

The Minister said: “The appointment of an expert panel chaired by Professor Rafael Bengoa to lead the debate on how we can deliver a world class Health and Social Care system in Northern Ireland is another important step forward in the implementation of the radical and far reaching reform plans I outlined last November.

“I want a clinically led conversation to advise us what the services the people of Northern Ireland should expect from their Health and Social Care system. I want to know how these can be delivered safely and effectively and I want them to tell us what that means for the way we currently operate our Health and Social Care services. I want them to identify the clinical evidence for any proposed change to services and what are the implications of failing to make those changes to how we do things.

“If we are to deliver the world class health and social care system that we deserve then we must embrace change. I am delighted to have Professor Bengoa here today as we start the challenging journey to positively reform our health service.”

Professor Rafael Bengoa has practiced as a doctor for seven years in both hospital and primary care. He worked for over 15 years for the World Health Organisation in Copenhagen and in Geneva and has co-authored numerous health care policy documents in Spain and internationally.

During his visit Professor Bengoa will be meeting with key stakeholders and professional bodies to develop an understanding of the medical, political and community context for health and social care transformation.

Professor Rafael Bengoa said: “I am delighted to be leading this expert panel to debate a sustainable way forward for the future provision of health and social care in Northern Ireland.

“Northern Ireland has the potential to aspire to a world class health service but in order to realise that there needs to be a willingness to accept new ideas, changes to the status quo and political leadership. Like many other health care systems across developed countries, Northern Ireland faces increasing challenges with growing ageing populations, chronic illnesses and financial constraints, however, engaging in and accepting change should not be seen as a threat to local services, rather as a fundamental necessity for a health service the people of Northern Ireland deserve.

“Over the last 40 years, there had been a focus in health on planning around structures instead of planning around patient needs and outcomes. The important thing for us at the panel is to be thinking in outcome terms and then we will see if there is any physical restructuring that is needed to fulfil those outcomes but not the other way around.”

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