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“No quick fix” – Health Minister as consultation charts way forward for Urgent & Emergency Care

Health Minister Robin Swann is inviting people across Northern Ireland to have their say on the future of Urgent and Emergency Care.

The Minister today launched a public consultation on the findings of the Review of Urgent and Emergency Care. It will run until 15 June 2022.

Mr Swann said:

“The public consultation document sets a clear way forward for urgent and emergency care services. I believe that the proposed reforms will help to ensure that all citizens in Northern Ireland have equal access to safe urgent and emergency care services, tailored to their specific needs, at the right time and in the right place.

“I fully recognise the severe pressures currently facing our hospitals and in particular our Emergency Departments. Far too many people are waiting far too long to access urgent and emergency care services. This falls far short of the service we all strive to provide.

“Unfortunately there is no quick fix. Addressing the current situation will required sustained effort and additional recurrent funding, including the building up of hospital capacity. That is why we need the long-term plan set out in the consultation document. Our staff continue to do all they can to provide the best possible service in hugely challenging circumstances. We owe it to them and everyone using these services to secure major and lasting improvements.

“We are already investing in our workforce and have delivered on the commitment to create an additional 900 nursing and midwifery student places. This means that in 2021/22 we commissioned a total of 1,325 nursing and midwifery training places, the highest on record and an 86% increase on 2015/16. We are also supporting development of the healthcare workforce by commissioning a new Paramedic BSc programme in 2021 and creating a local supply of Physician Associates to bolster clinical teams.”

The consultation sets out proposals under three strategic priorities:

* Priority one will see the development of an integrated urgent and emergency care service. Building on the work of the No More Silos initiative, this will see standardisation of service delivery across the region, including the development of Urgent Care Centres, the development of standardised pathways across all Trusts and, ultimately, the development of a regional Phone First number.

* Priority two is about capacity, co-ordination and performance. This covers important questions around the bed capacity in our hospitals as well as in acute care delivered in peoples’ homes. It is also aimed at ensuring that services are operating as they should and to the highest standard.

* Priority three will see the development of a regionalised approach to intermediate care, which will focus on healthcare delivered at home, providing better patient outcomes and recovery.

Minister Swann concluded:

“Urgent and emergency care services belong to us all and this is a chance to shape and improve those services to ensure they are fit to meet all of our needs now and into the future. The mantra of urgent and emergency care reform is about seeing the right person, in the right place, first time. I urge everyone to consider and respond to the proposals set out in this public consultation.”

The Urgent and Emergency Review was originally launched on 26 November 2018,with the aim to establish a new regional care model for Northern Ireland. Completion of the Review was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In October 2020, the Department launched the No More Silos Action Plan, which built on learning from the Review, with the aim of improving co-ordination between primary and secondary care services.

Through engagement with the Urgent and Emergency Care Revew Team, over 1,400 stakeholders have already influenced the proposals set out in the consultation report.

The public consultation documents are online at link below:


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