Health Minister Michelle O’Neill today launched her 10-year vision, to transform the current health and social care system.
Michelle O’Neill launched her vision entitled, ‘Health and Wellbeing 2026: Delivering Together’ after considering the Expert Panel’s report, led by Professor Rafael Bengoa, ‘Systems, Not Structures: Changing Health and Social Care’ which clearly sets out the need for change.
The Minister said: “Across health and social care clinicians and staff are working harder than ever to deliver high quality care and support to patients and carers, but working in a system designed to meet 20th century needs does not work in the 21st century world.”
Michelle O’Neill continued: “I want to thank the Expert Panel, led by Professor Rafael Bengoa, for their report, ‘Systems, Not Structures: Changing Health and Social Care’. It set out the need for change, and I have taken time to consider the report’s conclusions as well as the work undertaken through Transforming Your Care and the Donaldson report. I have also spoken to a range of people about what needs to change, including those who use and those who provide services.
“We have an opportunity for a ‘fresh start’, supported by the Executive – not just the will of one Minister or one Department. There is total agreement across the Executive that this needs to be done. Changing the health system is the right thing to do, it’s the right time to do it and it is right for the people who use it. This change will be planned, managed, incremental– this is not a ‘Big Bang’. Meaningful change does not happen overnight- this will take time, money and the support of staff, those who use our health and social care services as well as the support of Government.
“I want to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of all those working in the service; the depth of their commitment and compassion continues to astound me. Thank you for all that you do to improve the health and wellbeing of those who live in the north.
“That being said the system, itself, is at breaking point. We face a number of challenges, not least demographic changes and considerable health inequalities which continue to persist. The way services are organised is constraining transformation and our ability to provide high quality services.
“We need to support people to keep well in the first place and when they need care and support, services should be safe and of the highest quality. In line with the draft Programme for Government we will move from a focus on action based targets to one based on patient outcomes and co-production of services.”
The Minister continued: My vision also sets out a series of actions I will lead within the next 12 months to start the journey of transformation. I recognise the pressure that our system is under and it is important that we start now. By early next year we will have developed a plan to tackle waiting lists and by spring there will be investment to ensure every GP practice has a named District Nurse, Health Visitor and Social Worker. Further support for looked after children, children for whom the state has taken on parental responsibility will be in place by late 2017.
“I want to see services reconfigured to ensure the best possible outcomes for patients and that will include taking forward the development of stroke services and by the end of next year having proposals in place for the location of elective care centres and assessment and treatment centres.
“Whole system transformation will take time and it will only be truly sustainable if there is meaningful engagement with clinicians, staff and patients to build a collective way forward.
“I believe by working in partnership with those who use and those who deliver services we can co-design, co-produce and implement the changes our population deserves.”
Professor Rafael Bengoa, Chair of the Expert Panel said:“Health and social care systems across the developed world are currently struggling with the question of how to adapt their services to deal with continuously rising and changing patterns of demand. I and my colleagues on the Panel believe that the HSC system faces a stark choice. It can either resist change and see services deteriorate to the point of collapse over time, or embrace transformation and work to create a modern sustainable service that is properly equipped to help people stay as healthy as possible and to provide them with the right type of care when they need it.
“We have tried to produce a report that will make a practical contribution to implementing change and which will support the Minister’s ambitious, and wholly necessary, roadmap to reform. Transformation will not be simple, but the Panel has no doubt that Northern Ireland has both the people and the energy to deliver a world class health and care system.”
The Minister’s 10 year vision statement Health and Wellbeing 2026: Delivering Together is available for download at https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/