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NHS Confederation - Collective Political Leadership required to deliver change of this scale

In an unprecedented move the Northern Ireland Confederation of Health and Social Care (NICON) on Monday 11th January launched One Voice – Time for Change, an election briefing supported by over 50 health and social care organisations calling for collective political leadership and a relentless focus on implementing change. 

Policy priorities to meet 7 key challenges: Need, Design, Workforce, Finance, Technology, Culture and Leadership are set out in the document. In the run up to the May 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly elections the health and care sector are now united in a call for action in the next mandate to address these challenges. 

Colm McKenna, Chairman, NICON said: 

“We have made some good progress but the scale of the challenge ahead should not be underestimated by anyone. We wanted to demonstrate to politicians and the public just how much professional agreement, based on international evidence, there is on what we need to do in the future. We need collective political leadership and public support to focus on implementing change in the next mandate.” 

Explaining further he said; “Citizens can be encouraged and supported to take much greater care of their own health, we can make much better use of technology and we can design services differently to provide better ways of delivering care. Thereis also a pressing need to begin a wider debate on how we can fund services in the future to meet the growing health care needs in our communities. We cannot continue with business as usual.” 

Given that we spend nearly 50% of the Northern Ireland budget already on health and social care and pressures continue to rise year on year, it is vital we make real progress on these issues if we are to meet the needs of our citizens”

The vision for the future, outlined in the election briefing acts as a roadmap to which political parties can sign up to. This includes: An all-party and public consensus on the shape of renewed services, including the whole of government prioritising health and social care in its policies. Greater commitment to help people to stay well, redesigning services around people’s needs and agreed budgets and sources of funding to name a few points.

This is set in the context of challenges that are faced by an existing and outdated health and care sector. The briefing calls for “tough choices”. The potential consequences of failing to make these tough choices is outlined in the paper as including: fragmented services, increased waiting times and use of limited resources unwisely. 

Heather Moorhead, Director of NICON went on the explain; “We know we have a tough challenge ahead -we cannot afford to wait. Now is the time for the health and care sector to work closely with the government and political parties to truly transform the way that we deliver care. We need to see a manifesto commitment, and this transformed into change on the front line.” 

Members welcome the recent move by Minister Hamilton to establishment of an expert panel and a political summit but everyone agrees the key focus must be on action in the next mandate.” 

Rob Webster, the Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation, said “We know from experience that when there is policy agreement, with strong collective political consensus this provides everyone with the best opportunity of delivering the significant change programme we need in the coming decade to deliver sustainable services.” 

Heather Monteverde, joining a wide range of other partners but speaking on behalf of the Long Term Conditions Alliance says “We are delighted to be involved with this work. We in the charity sector are committed to playing an essential and creative role as we seek to do things differently” 

In the election briefing the sector set out its commitment challenge to every sector of society to support the delivery of change; politicians and the public have a role but so does the rest of government, Councils, Employers, and the media. 

The Northern Ireland Confederation for Health and Social Care will use the document as a basis to meet with political parties over the coming months to seek to inform party manifestos. One Voice – Time for Change will also form the basis of the NICON annual conference on the 20/21 April preceding the elections.

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