Health and Social Care Board to be abolished

Health Minister Simon Hamilton
Health Minister Simon Hamilton

The health minister is to abolish Northern Ireland’s Health and Social Care Board.

All commissioning powers are to be transferred to the Department of Health, while a new group will be established to hold the five health trusts to account.

This is a radical plan and one which many critics argue should have happened a decade ago.

In a statement Health minister Simon Hamilton said: “Last year, I announced my intention to remodel the administrative structures of Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland to make them more streamlined and to reduce complexity. I proposed that:

· the Health and Social Care Board cease to exist;

· the Department would take firmer strategic control of the system;

· Trusts would have more responsibility for the planning of care in their areas and have the operational independence to deliver it; and

· the Public Health Agency would be retained with a renewed focus on prevention and early intervention.

“The response to the recent consultation is a clear endorsement for the need to change.”

Mr Hamilton added: “While there is broad agreement that our current structures are too complex, too bureaucratic and too slow to support transformation, there is a concern about where responsibility for commissioning of services will reside in the future after the Board is gone.

“I completely understand these concerns. However I am still convinced that we have too many layers of bureaucracy in our system. So, with the objective of eliminating bureaucracy and aiding innovation, I confirm that the Board will go, with system level strategic planning and decision making for the bulk of Health and Social Care services passing to the Department rather than our Trusts. I still want to see our Trusts take on additional responsibility for care in their areas. I want them to have increasing autonomy. And I want them to be held more accountable for what they do.”