19/05/2003

Hospital modernisation needs further development

Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, Des Browne has today called on the Chairmen of the four Health and Social Services Boards to develop their local plans for the modernisation of hospital services following his announcement on ‘Developing Better Services’ in February.

The Minister said it was becoming increasingly difficult to sustain the local, smaller hospitals and if the initiative was not seized then changes would more than likely be forced upon services.

Mr Browne added: “I am aware that following the announcement of my decisions on Developing Better Services on 24 February, a number of concerns remain about the level and type of hospital services that will be provided, particularly in rural communities.

"We need to press ahead with the hospital modernisation programme. That programme is about putting people first and the only way this can reasonably be done is to talk to those who would be most affected by changes to hospital services in their area.

“I have therefore asked the Chairmen of the four Health and Social Services Boards to prepare local plans for developing hospital services in their area and to report on progress by the end of August.

“I want this to be an inclusive process where Boards will engage with the community, local elected representatives and professional staff to develop together a profile of future hospital services that everyone can understand and be reasonably assured will be delivered.”

Mr Browne announced his decision on the future of hospital services in Northern Ireland February, following consultation and a range of proposals contained in the Developing Better Services document.

In it he announced a network of ten acute hospitals supporting six local hospitals, delivering a range of local services.

A £500 million capital development programme was also announced to underpin the proposals.

The Minister has asked the four Boards to submit progress reports to the Department by 31 August 2003.

(MB)

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