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Safety and quality of services a priority in financial plans


Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland is still facing significant financial challenges in 2014/15, the Chief Executive of the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) said today (30th October 2014).

HSCB Chief Executive Valerie Watts was speaking after the Health Minister Jim Wells outlined the scale of the challenge in a written Ministerial statement.

Ms Watts said that the absolute priority was safeguarding the safety and integrity of health and social care services in Northern Ireland.

“Whilst the £80m additional funding for health and social care will help minimise some of the impact on frontline services, currently there remains a shortfall in funding across the system.

“The Trusts were asked to prepare a range of contingency proposals aimed at addressing this difficult financial position, minimising as far as possible, any potential negative impact on patient and client care, and at all times putting the safety of patients and clients as our first priority.

“The HSCB has liaised very closely with the Trusts, and has critically reviewed, analysed and revised the proposals as appropriate to safeguard the safety and integrity of services. The HSCB then provided an assessment to the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS), who after extensive consideration and challenge to the plans, in conjunction with the HSCB and Trusts, approved the implementation of the contingency proposals.

Regional plans

Plans being implemented across Trusts areas

Specific plans

The Trust contingency plans include a range of specific proposals (See Notes to Editors for further information). This will include:

The HSCB Chief Executive said: “I fully understand the concern that the implementation of the contingency plans may cause. Inevitably, the plans may mean that some people will have to wait longer or travel further for some non-urgent treatment which is hugely regrettable.

“The very nature of providing health and social care always carries a degree of risk. The service changes particularly over the winter period will, no doubt, increase the level of risk. However, the HSCB and Trusts will continue to take all proactive steps to protect critical and urgent frontline services and to closely monitor and review temporary arrangements that are put in place to ensure that unacceptable risks are minimised and avoided.

Ms Watts added: “We are working in a very difficult financial climate; the costs of providing health and social care are rising every year faster than the budgets we are allocated. You have only to look at the financial challenges facing the NHS in England, Scotland and Wales to understand that the increasing demand for, and cost of, health care is not just unique to Northern Ireland. Therefore it is absolutely essential that we continue on the journey of reforming and transforming our services.”

Further information

Some of the main changes are listed below (please note this is not a full list of every measure being implemented). Please contact the relevant Trust for further details –  http://online.hscni.net/other-hsc-organisations/.

Temporary closure of 3 Minor Injuries Units (MIUs)

Bed Closures

Northern Trust

South Eastern Trust

Other Plans