A concerted effort continues across Health and Social Care (HSC) to rebuild services disrupted by the Coronavirus pandemic.
This page aims to provide an overview of plans across key HSC areas and will be further updated in coming weeks.
A significant amount of hospital, social, community and primary care services were scaled back to ensure there were enough staff, resources and capacity to cope with the predicted surge of Covid-19 cases.
In June 2020, the Department of Health published a Strategic Framework for Rebuilding Health and Social Care Services and the six Health and Social Care Trusts published Phase One of their rebuilding services plans.
Phase 2 of the HSC Trusts plans have now been published setting out a series of actions to rebuild their services from July to September 2020. An overview of the plans and separate detailed data annex has also been produced showing projected activity by each Trust over the next three months.
The Health Minister, Robin Swann, has made it clear that the HSC will not be able to return to, ‘business as usual’, and he also stressed that there were opportunities to make improvements.
He said; “As we aim to increase capacity, we will need to adopt a flexible and adaptable approach. COVID-19 is still with us and we may well have to deal with either localised or regional surges, which inevitably would impact on our ability to increase activity over the next three months. Within this context, I am confident that as a system we will continue to deliver the best possible care for the people of Northern Ireland.”
Phase 2 plans include an ongoing emphasis on high priority cancer services, and other urgent conditions, as well as on supporting and protecting vulnerable members of society.
Whilst there is a need to prioritise services, significant constraints continue to face HSC including, social distancing, use of PPE, staff availability and the need to plan for future potential COVID-19 surges.
When publishing the Strategy in June 2020, the Minister announced the creation of a new Management Board for Rebuilding HSC Services. This will broadly consist of senior Department of Health officials, Trust Chief Executives and other HSC leaders, including the Health and Social Care Board, Public Health Agency and Business Services Organisation.
The Department has also published a comprehensive assessment of the impact of Covid-19 across key services.
The Health and Social Care Board will continue to work alongside the Department of Health, wider HSC and key partners to plan for the future; mainstream the important innovations that have emerged; whilst retaining capacity to manage Covid-19 patients and any future surge.