Politics

Health Minister Edwin Poots: make your views known on Transforming Your Care

Edwin-Poots-Official-2011The Health Minister wants to hear your views on his proposals to reshape services in Northern Ireland.  Changing the practices, but not the principles, of health and social care is vital for ensuring that the system continues to meet the needs of our population.

The provision of safe, sustainable and resilient services to meet the needs of the population of Northern Ireland is a key priority for me as Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety.

My vision is to drive up the quality of care for patients, clients and service users, improve outcomes, and enhance the patient experience so that people are treated in the right place, at the right time and by the right people.  This vision is, I believe, shared by the people who deliver services daily throughout our health and social care system.

The needs of our society are changing.  We have a growing and ageing population with people living longer.  This is something to celebrate but it also inevitably places more demand on our health and social care services.

These demands, together with the rising cost of technologies and drugs, lifestyle issues such as obesity and alcohol, family structures and pressures leading to rising demand for children’s services, increased demand on acute services, and difficulties recruiting and retaining skilled staff in areas of Northern Ireland, mean that we need to think differently to meet the demands that lie ahead.

Although these changes present us with challenges, they also offer us opportunities to look innovatively at how we can reform and modernise our services to meet the changing needs of our society now and into the future.  Without change, there is a growing potential for instability in the health and social care system and an increasing difficulty in meeting the future needs of our citizens.

What has not changed is my belief in the principles of the NHS and the core objectives of what our health and social care system is there to do.  These principles are that health services:

  • are generally free at the point of delivery, based on individual need, not ability to pay;
  • are funded by taxation; and
  • are available without prior restriction on which cost-effective treatments or therapies individuals should receive.

To address the impact of these changes, I commissioned a review into how we could improve the delivery of health and social care and reshape the delivery those services.

The review examined the provision of health and social care services in Northern Ireland.  It provided a strategic assessment across all aspects of health and social care and the extent to which the future needs of patients, clients, service users and the wider community would be addressed.

The report, entitled ‘Transforming Your Care’, was published in December 2011.  It set out a compelling case for change and provided a strategic direction for the future of health and social care services in Northern Ireland.  The proposed changes across health and social care focus on reshaping how services are structured and delivered in order to make best use of all resources available and in so doing ensure that our services are safe, resilient and sustainable into the future. The 12 key principles underpinning the approach in ‘Transforming Your Care’ are:

  • the individual at the centre of services;
  • using outcomes and quality evidence to shape services;
  • the right care in the right place at the right time;
  • population-based planning of services;
  • a focus on prevention and tackling inequalities;
  • integrated care (working together);
  • promoting independence and personalisation of care;
  • safeguarding the most vulnerable;
  • ensuring sustainability of service provision;
  • realising value for money;
  • maximising use of technology; and
  • incentivising innovation at local level.

edwin-poots-altnagelvin-cancer-centreThe proposals take account of policy frameworks and initiatives for health and social care services, including the ‘Quality 2020’ strategy published in 2011, the public health strategic framework ‘Fit and Well: Changing Lives’, and the reform of adult care and support ‘Who Cares?’

It is vital that we make the decisions and take the actions that are necessary to improve the outcomes for patients and clients.  The proposals in Transforming Your Care are about change: change in how we plan services and in how we deliver them.  It is about reforming and modernising services so that they are focused on the people for whom care is provided, rather than on the institutions which provide it.

A consultation is currently underway on proposals emerging from Transforming Your Care, seeking the views of the public, as patients, clients, services users, service providers and citizens.  Details of proposed changes, public information events and how to respond to the consultation can be found on the dedicated website: www.tycconsultation.hscni.net

Our health and social care system should be of interest to all of the population.  I would therefore encourage everyone to read the material produced, and contribute to the delivery of improvements to our health and social care services.

Consultation closes on 15 January.

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