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Investment in Health and Social Care transformation essential to make services sustainable and world class – Hamilton

That was the message from the Health Minister, Simon Hamilton as he addressed Londonderry Chamber of Commerce representatives today. 

The Minister took the opportunity to inform delegates on his plans for the biggest shake up in Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland in a generation. 

Highlighting his plans to reconfigure services with the view to eliminate bureaucracy, establish clear accountability and encourage innovation the Minister reaffirmed the closure of the Health and Social Care Board and the appointment of an Independent Panel to consider the best configuration of services for the future.

The Minister said: “Injecting more resources into a Health and Social Care system, that I have freely admitted is not as efficient as it should be, might seem odd but making the scale of reforms I envisage will take time and it will take resources. You simply do not transform a Health and Social Care system in the way we know we need to without investing significant levels of resources. 

“The challenge in Health is that investing in transformation must occur at the same time as we deliver services. Those services face unprecedented demand which makes a difficult job all the more challenging.”

Reaffirming his plans for a Health and Social Care Transformation fund the Minister continued: “I want to use a sizeable element of any extra expenditure on Health to transform how services are delivered; encourage even more innovation; invest in world class facilities like the cardiac catheterisation labs at Altnagelvin; and realise the vision set out in Transforming Your Care. 

“That’s why I have proposed the creation of a Health and Social Care Transformation Fund. Its specific purpose would be to fund innovative projects that will not only improve outcomes for patients and people but also save money that can be redirected to other frontline services. It is only by investing in innovation and transforming how services are delivered that we can conquer the challenges facing Health and make the system more efficient and sustainable in the long term.

“I am well aware of the challenges in forging a Budget in challenging fiscal times and I know the extent of pressures faced by other Departments. There is no guarantee that other parties will support my call for £1 billion more for Health. Indeed, some have already opposed it. I will certainly be fighting hard for more for Health but I am determined that my Department should play its own part by realising more efficiencies from inside the system. With some more investment plus further efficiencies, we can achieve what I believe we need and ensure that Health and Social Care gets more for frontline services as well as resources to spend on transforming our system and making it more sustainable. 

“I am determined to meet the challenges facing Health and Social Care head on, reform our system by removing bureaucracy and invest in transformation. If we want to make our Health and Social Care system both sustainable in the long term and world class in the services it delivers, then investment is key.”