Healthcare Progress Clear But Must Continue- DoH

Vital health reforms are delivering real change but must continue if we are to tackle waiting list and staffing pressures.

That was the message from the Department of Health today, 16 May, as it launched a progress report on health and social care transformation.

Permanent Secretary Richard Pengelly highlighted the increasing pressures on staff and growing waiting lists for treatment while reporting on Delivering Together, the Department's 10 year roadmap for transforming healthcare service delivery in Northern Ireland.

"We clearly still have a long way go, with serious challenges right across NI," he commented. "Too many people are waiting too long for care and staff are under immense and growing pressure. These problems are serious symptoms of an outdated health and social care system that cannot keep up with growing demand. Without reform, they will get worse year on year.

"The long term answer to hospital waiting lists involves reshaping services to improve capacity and provide more diagnoses and treatments. Likewise, staffing pressures are clearly linked to services being spread too thinly across too many locations.
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"Without reform, staffing challenges will keep growing and bills for agency and locum cover will continue to climb."

The update report detailed examples of projects taken forward and supported by transformation funding.

As part of the Delivering Together programme, public consultations are being held on reshaping stroke and breast assessment services.

Reviews are also underway in other key areas including urgent and emergency care, oncology, neurology, paediatrics, and day surgery.

The day surgery transformation has already seen prototype elective care centres opened for cataract and varicose veins. The Department is planning a public consultation later this year on plans to transfer thousands of other day case routine operations to dedicated elective care centre locations.

The specialities involved are General Surgery and Endoscopy, Urology, Gynaecology, Orthopaedics, ENT, Paediatrics and Neurology.

Another major transformation initiative involves the roll-out of Multi-Disciplinary teams at GP surgeries. This radical new approach sees GPs working with teams of mental health specialists, physios and other experts to provide local people with the right support, at the right time and in the right place.

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