Question Time: Health, Social Services and Public Safety Monday 16 November 2015

Health Minister, Mr Simon Hamilton began Oral Question Time by answering Ms Maeve McLaughlin, Mr Peter Weir and Mr Adrian McQuillan’s concerns regarding the Ministers plans in reforming the health service. The Minister stated that ” there are simply too many layers of administration in our system, which are making it difficult to meet those challenges to drive change and weakening accountability. I want to drastically delayer the system to remove complexity and bring about greater accountability and better responsiveness. I want our trusts to be responsible for the planning of care in their areas and to have the operational independence to deliver it. I want to see my Department take firmer strategic control of the health and social care system. I have therefore announced that we will close the Health and Social Care Board, as I believe that we no longer need a stand-alone organisation. I intend to retain a Public Health Agency, with a renewed focus on early intervention and prevention, which will work more closely alongside the Department in that essential work. I have also announced a panel to lead a debate on the best configuration of health and social care services in Northern Ireland”.

Mr Poots MLA asked the Minister what plans he has to address the pressures on waiting lists. The Minister explained the pressures surrounding waiting lists and the emergency departments can only be resolved with the injection of funding as quickly as possible. The Minister confirmed that ” the Health and Social Care Board and trusts are already putting in place plans should additional funding become available, and that will, of course, be focused on patients with the greatest clinical need. However, even with additional funding, there are limits to what the system can deliver before the end of the year”.

During Topical Questions the Minister was asked questions on his recommendation on the Donaldson Report, the Air Ambulance update and what is going to do to address the shortage of consultants in the Mater Hospital.