All Website dropdown

News Stories

Board Welcomes Significant Progress on Health Reform


The Health and Social Care Board has said that significant progress is being made on the major health and social care reforms.

Speaking after the Assembly statement today (Tuesday 25th June), the Board’s Chief Executive John Compton said that he was confident the changes taking place will significantly transform care in Northern Ireland for the better.

Mr Compton said: “Since the Health Minister endorsed the Transforming Your Care (TYC) proposals in March following extensive consultation, we have started to see real, meaningful and positive change.

“Change is absolutely essential to ensuring we all have improved access to safe, and high quality care in the future. With a growing and ageing population, a growth in chronic conditions and demand, and an over reliance on hospital beds, leaving the system as it is, is simply is not an option. That is why we need to continue to transform our services, ensuring we have an efficient, effective and integrated service which puts patients and service users at the very heart of care.

“As we move forward, it is really important that we implement change in a measured and thoughtful way with involvement of patients, clients and service users, carers, HSC organisations and the wider public sector, professional and clinical leads, the voluntary and community sector and a wide range of other stakeholders. This will be essential for ensuring that any changes are sustainable and can make a difference for everyone.”

A few of the examples of the progress being made to date include:

bullet list Integrated Care Partnerships (ICPs) – good progress is being made in relation to ICPs which will see doctors, nurses, social workers and other health professionals, and the voluntary and community sector working together to keep people well and make sure they get the care they need, when they need it. All of the ICP Partnership Committees will be in place by the start of July and will operate in shadow form until the full membership is in place, including representatives of the voluntary and community sector, and service users and carers. ICPs will have a significant impact for improving the patient journey, helping to manage chronic illness and in preventing unnecessary hospital admissions, especially for our frail elderly and those with long term conditions.
bullet list A Regional Planning Group has been established to develop a regional approach on best practice for engagement and consultation about the future of statutory residential care homes. The Board has been working diligently with Trusts over recent weeks to bring forward this guidance, ensuring residents are central to the process, and that any future transition is managed sensitively and with their full involvement and that of their families and staff. The Board remains committed to the delivery of excellence in health and social care services for older people.
bullet list A new round-the-clock urgent assessment unit for surgical patients has been opened at the Royal Victoria Hospital. The new Surgical Assessment Unit within the Emergency Surgical Unit has 6 beds and provides a dedicated, centralised area where acutely ill surgical patients can be assessed, monitored and an appropriate management plan put in place.
bullet list There has been significant investment made in relation to expanding the Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI) service in Northern Ireland which means that patients having a heart attack would be taken to a catheterisation laboratory centre that is capable of undertaking the procedure 24/7 365 days a year. In the last financial year £1.9m was invested to increase the number of cath lab sessions in the Belfast and Western Trusts. Further progress will be made in this financial year.
bullet list Carers – we have already seen an uptake of carer’s assessments this year but it is something we continue to focus on. This year £500k is being invested to support development in respite and short break initiatives.
bullet list A further £1m has been invested in memory services for people with dementia building on the £1m invested last year.  The memory services project has emerged from time spent listening to people with dementia and their carers, seeking their views about their experiences of attending memory clinics and the follow up support they receive.  Because of this engagement, investment is now being targeted towards psychological support, Alzheimer’s support staff attending memory clinics, and follow up support at home if required.  A new initiative is also being developed to introduce the role of a Navigator who will signpost people with dementia and their carers across the different services.
bullet list In partnership with Marie Curie, the Board is investing £250k, with Marie Curie investing a similar amount, in the development of the ‘Delivering Choices’ programme to enable people with palliative and end of life care needs to have choices in their place of care, better access to services and improved outcomes at the end of their lives.
bullet list Funding has been allocated to Trusts to recruit additional orthopaedic staff to deal with increasing demands on the service and it is anticipated that new Orthopaedic consultants will be in post by early 2013/14. The Board is also expanding the capacity of Orthopaedic Practitioners with a specialist interest, as well as taking forward plans to establish a regional podiatric foot and ankle surgical service.
bullet list Innovations and progress in technology are certainly improving patient care and helping address the challenges in our system such as; the new Electronic Care Record System and the increase of patients using telemonitoring – helping to avoid unnecessary hospital visits.

Mr Compton added: “When I think of change I think of how we can help people in their own homes. For example, we can use technology better.

“Sixty five year old Rostrevor resident John Hicks suffers from the respiratory disease, Emphysema. For the last two years, John has been using the telemonitoring system which has been installed into his home and the effective use of this technology has helped him to manage his condition with greater independence and reduced hospital admissions.”

Speaking about the benefits of the service Mr Hicks said: “Telemonitoring has really helped me understand a lot more about my condition. I take my readings every day and I now know what my readings should or shouldn’t be. Having this service has given me the confidence to help me manage my condition. I also feel very reassured knowing my readings are monitored on a daily basis and my nurse is alerted to any issues.

“I am delighted to say I haven’t had to go into hospital any time during the last eleven months and I am able to continue with my volunteering work as a trainer with the Newry and Mourne Chest, Heart and Stroke Association. I would definitely recommend this service to anyone.