22/05/2012

Poots To Learn From Basque Health Minister

The Northern Ireland Health Minister has met with his Basque counterpart and said the two places should work together due to their similar population sizes and devolved governments.

In a four-hour meeting during Edwin Poots's visit to Spain, he and Rafael Bengoa agreed to work together on health, science, industry and technologies.

This could bring European Union funding to both regions.

Speaking in Bilbao, the Ministers agreed that community treatments, rather than hospital admissions, would help them tackle the problems of ageing populations and limited budgets.

Here in Northern Ireland the Transforming Your Care system will allow more people to be treated close to home, while in the Basque country Sr Bengoa is spending heavily on treating chronic illness.

A spokesman for the Northern Ireland Executive called the discussion "open and constructive" and Mr Poots said the countries will formalise their cooperation over the next few weeks.

"Northern Ireland and the Basque Country face the same challenges in delivering healthcare," Mr Poots said.

"However, we have separately developed our own solutions to address those challenges. Therefore, we need to learn from each other. I want to identify where we can adapt solutions developed elsewhere to our own health and social care system."

Sr Bengoa said: "We all have separate mechanisms and tools which address the similar challenges we face and drive our own reform agendas. We need to find a system where we can bring these together to assist our countries – and others – in improving healthcare delivery."

(NE)

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