Speaking at the Healthcare Financial Management Association annual conference in Belfast recently, the Minister for Health called for efficiencies across health and social care in Northern Ireland. Referring to the consultation document ‘Transforming Your Care’, Mr Poots said: “Looking to the future, all the signs are that Health and Social Care is unlikely to be able to rely on the growth in funding it has received in the past – even with the best protection the Executive can afford.”
The consultation document Transforming Your Care: Vision to Action highlighted that Northern Ireland has a growing and ageing population and those with disabilities are living longer. The report recognised that while there is much to celebrate about this position, there is an increasing difficulty in meeting the future health and social care needs of people in Northern Ireland.
The consultation document is focused on providing more services in the community, and closer to where people live. The main areas proposed for change in the consultation document include:
- primary care
- use of new technology
- statutory residential homes
- mental health services
- acute services
- maternity care
- palliative care
One of the specific themes of Transforming Your Care is the increased use of individualised budgets and self-directed support. The document states: ‘Care should be based on the specific needs of each individual (‘personalisation’) and more of the decisions should be taken by the individual patient or client. This could take the form of Direct Payments where a person receives a cash payment to arrange their own support.’
While a number of membership bodies have welcomed this and other recommendations contained within the document, it was recently reported in the News Letter that some organisations including Unison have voiced their concerns. Speaking to the paper a Unison spokesperson said that “…much of [the report] is a charter for privatisation.” With the consultation process to continue over the coming months it will be interesting to see how other responses contribute to this crucial debate about the future provision of health and social care within Northern Ireland.
- The consultation document, Transforming Your Care: From Vision to Actions, can be accessed on-line at http://www.tycconsultation.hscni.net
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