Robin Swann: ‘My successor will have much work to do’

Health Minister Robin Swann has said that his successor will have “much work to do” in transforming the health service in Northern Ireland.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 24th March 2022, 10:51 pm
Outgoing Stormont Health Minister Robin Swann
Outgoing Stormont Health Minister Robin Swann

In his final appearance before his scrutiny committee in the current Assembly mandate, Mr Swann repeated his frustrations at Stormont’s failure to pass a three-year budget, which would have given a significant funding boost to the health service.

Ministers are unable to sign off on a new budget due to the power-sharing impasse, meaning departments will have to fall back on emergency arrangements to continue funding public services.

Mr Swann told the health committee that the two years of the pandemic had brought unprecedented challenges for the health service.

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He said: “It was only fitting that we took the time yesterday to reflect on the challenges and losses of the last two years.

“While we are thankful we have been able to move beyond the blunt use of restrictions, it is important that we continue to guard against complacency regarding the virus.

“Despite all of the challenges of the pandemic we have been able to make progress on a whole range of issues.

“We are in a much stronger workforce position both in terms of numbers being trained and in morale as to where we were in January 2020. There is still obviously much more work to do.”

The minister continued: “As we continue to deal with the realities of the pandemic and the pressures that already existed across the health service before it, I think we can all agree that we need a firm focus on recovery and improvement.

“I have no doubt that whoever sits in this chair in the months ahead will want to see the existing momentum continue.

“Whilst we are constantly planning for the future, the pace, scale and direction of rebuilding and transformation of the health service will also be influenced by the resources that are available to it.

“We had a real opportunity with the three-year draft budget and while that has been admittedly lost now, it just makes it all the more important that the next Executive agrees a sustainable multi-year budget position.

“Whilst there has been progress made, there is still much work for the next minister and the next committee to do.”