An international panel of experts tasked with drawing up proposals to overhaul healthcare provision in Northern Ireland has completed its work.
The panel’s chair, Spanish professor Rafael Bengoa, has presented a final report to Stormont health minister Michelle O’Neill.
The Sinn Fein minister now intends to spend the summer assessing the recommendations before publicising them in the autumn, along with her own action plan.
“I would like to offer my thanks to Professor Bengoa and his colleagues for producing this report,” she said.
“These are important and complex matters and I am therefore going to take some time to consider the financial and organisational implications of the panel’s report.
“Provided I can secure the necessary resources, I plan to use this work as a foundation for my own vision for the long-term future of health and social care in the north.
“I will publish my vision this autumn, alongside the panel’s report, and aim to begin translating the political and public discussion about reform of health and social care into concrete proposals for transforming these important services.”
Professor Bengoa said he and his colleagues hoped their work would provide a “sound basis” for future reforms.
“Our task has been to make recommendations on a future health and social care model which will deliver a financially sustainable service, providing high-quality outcomes in the face of changing patterns of demand,” he said.
“Patients have been at the heart of our interactions with all stakeholders and it is with them in mind that our recommendations propose a sustainable community-based health care system for the future.
“This is one of the major challenges of our time and one that many western economies across the world are confronting by attempting to put reforms such as this into practice.
“In the course of our work we have been able to talk to people from different parts of the health and social care system and we have been struck by the consistency of the messages we have received.
“There is a strong appetite for reform and there now seems to be a clear window of opportunity to harness this energy and drive transformation forward.”