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Health minister pledged help for Northern Ireland practices

26 October 2016

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Every practice in Northern Ireland will have a named district nurse, health visitor and social worker by the spring as part of an ambitious plan for the health service.

The Health Minister  Michelle O’Neill unveiled  a 10-year plan  to improve the health system she said was “at breaking point.”

Unveiling her Health and Wellbeing 2016, Delivering Together

18-point plan  on Tuesday she said: “Across health and social care clinicians and staff are working harder than ever to deliver high quality care and support to patients and carers, but working in a system designed to meet 20th century needs does not work in the 21st century world.”

She said: “The system, itself, is at breaking point. We face a number of challenges, not least demographic changes and considerable health inequalities which continue to persist. The way services are organised is constraining transformation and our ability to provide high quality services.”

Amongst other plans unveiled yesterday was a plan to have 54 pharmacists in GP practices by December this year, with a roll out across Northern Irelands completed by March 2021.

The minister also said the number of GP training places will increase to 111 to help a service suffering from a shortage of GPs. She said there will be 12  extra places next year and another 14 in 2018.

A short term plan will also be drawn up by January to reduce the number of people on  waiting lists.

She said she recognised the “pressure that our system is under.”

The plan for primary care  was described as “encouraging”  by the British Medical Association’s Northern Ireland council chairman John D Woods.

He said: “The BMA was pleased to see the minister acknowledge that clinical staff need to be involved and engaged in finding solutions to the problems our healthcare system is facing.
The proposals for primary care are encouraging, and we welcome the planned increase in training places, the commitment to multi-disciplinary teams and the rollout of Ask My GP.”