Northern Ireland

Bengoa Report: Reactions to O'Neill's 10-year-plan for NI healthcare

Michelle O'Neill
Image caption Michelle O'Neill said the plan would require a "wholesale transformation" of Northern Ireland's health system

Politicians and commentators have been reacting to the announcement by Health Minister Michelle O'Neill of a radical shake-up of Northern Ireland's health and social care system.

O'Neill set out her 10-year-plan 'Health and Wellbeing 2026: Delivering Together' to the Assembly.

She called for a "wholesale transformation" of Northern Ireland's health system, which she described as at "breaking point".

Arlene Foster, first minister

"We are very grateful to Professor Bengoa and his colleagues for their work. Their report sets out a frank assessment of the existing situation and the need for change.

"It represents a challenge to politicians, but it is a challenge this Executive is going to meet head on.

"We are committed to increasing our substantial investment in the health service year in and year out. However, it is clear the present configuration of services needs to change to ensure the best outcomes for patients."

Martin McGuiness, deputy first minister

"This is a time for leadership and this executive is going to provide it.

"Change has to happen and the only question is whether it will happen in a controlled, planned fashion or unfold out of control. There is only one responsible choice to make.

"We need to show leadership and take the decisions necessary to provide a health service which empowers staff and directs the resources available in the most effective way.

"Today is a powerful example of the executive working together. We will deliver a fresh start for the health service."

Dr John Woods, British Medical Association (BMA) Northern Ireland

"We welcome the minister's statement today and her leadership in bringing forward this report.

"The BMA was pleased to see the minister acknowledge that clinical staff need to be involved and engaged in finding solutions to the problems our healthcare system is facing.

"The proposals for primary care are encouraging, and we welcome the planned increase in training places, the commitment to multi-disciplinary teams and the roll out of Ask My GP."

Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, finance minister, Sinn Féin

Margaret Ritchie, SDLP MP for South Down

"I will be giving the Bengoa Report and the minister's action plan detailed consideration.

"I have also requested meetings with both the minister and the chief executive of the trust to have a fuller discussion on both reports to ensure that the minister and her department make every effort to eliminate rural inequalities in health and medical provision in South Down."

Gary Middleton, DUP MLA, Foyle

Paula Bradshaw, Alliance health spokesperson and South Belfast MLA

"The proposals are significant and have expert backing, but often such suggestions draw local or internal opposition when they are actually implemented.

"That's why a cross-party approach is preferable to the lack of transparency we have seen so far from this executive.

"Progress cannot once again be fudged. There is excellence across much of the health service but what is now required is a more effective system to ensure that excellence is experienced by everyone accessing it."

Nichola Mallon, SDLP MLA, North Belfast

Alan Chambers, UUP MLA, North Down

Marcella Leonard, Northern Ireland Association of Social Workers (NIASW)

"NIASW members are pleased the minister has recognised the vital role played by social workers in improving outcomes in the lives of people throughout society.

"We are encouraged that Minister O'Neill has responded to Professor Bengoa's report by demonstrating her commitment to the delivery of an integrated health and social care system in which social workers work in partnership with colleagues in the health professions to maximize wellbeing."

Kevin McAdam, UNITE union

"We recognise the need for reform and restructuring of our health and social care system.

"This process of reform can only succeed on the basis of a collaborative approach involving patients, staff and other key stakeholders.

"As such, we welcome the minister's commitment to adopt a 'co-production' approach grounded on such partnership working. We look forward to playing a positive role in that process."

Labour Party Northern Ireland

Nicola Moore, Parkinson's UK Northern Ireland Director

"A great many people affected by Parkinson's will be relieved to see that there is now a clear direction of travel for our health and social care services, with the backing of all Executive Ministers.

" Parkinson's UK Northern Ireland generally welcomes the 14 recommendations in Professor Bengoa's report."

Duane Farrell, Age NI Charity Director

"It is encouraging that the Minister recognises the importance of adult social care to transforming health services.

Likewise, we are pleased that the Minister's actions include a focus on social care and a commitment to ensuring that people have 'high quality care and are treated with dignity, respect and compassion' when they need it."

Roisin Foster, Chief Executive for Cancer Focus NI

"It's very clear that our Health and Social Care service needs major reform in order to be sustainable for the future, so it's crucial that the recommendations made today are implemented.

"Our main concern is the best outcome for cancer patients. We believe this may be achieved by the proposed centralisation of specialist cancer services, continuing to develop and progress our centres of excellence, coupled with additional cancer services to be delivered locally where possible."

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