From increasing cancer survival rates, to enabling people with disabilities to live in their own communities, there is no doubt Health and Social Care (HSC) has achieved some major improvements for the people of Northern Ireland. Yet we know the challenges faced by HSC in the past 60 years, are very different to the ones it will face in the next 60 years.
New technology and drug advancements continually revolutionise the possibilities. The future of HSC cannot be left to professionals alone. Every person has a responsibility for their own care, as well as helping shape future services.
In recent years, the Patient and Client Council has promoted and witnessed a clear process of reform to reconnect with patients, service users, carers and communities at all levels of decision making across HSC, known as Personal and Public Involvement (PPI).
PPI has enabled patients to shape commissioning plans and bring about service changes for discrete patient groups, like those who have chronic pain and people with a rare disease. These developments are just the start of what needs to be a wider fundamental change within HSC. Decision makers, staff and service users have a shared interest in developing new ways to improve standards in treatment, care and prevention of health problems. The shared challenge is to build on improvements already made, and work together to develop services which meet the needs of every person in Northern Ireland.