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Trust Rebuilding Plans

13th April 2021

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Health Minister Robin Swann has detailed his ambitions for the re-building of Northern Ireland’s health service covering the period April to June. The publication of these plans come as we emerge from the severe third COVID-19 wave, which has further depleted the resilience of our health and social care system.

Addressing the Assembly, Health Minister said the COVID-19 pandemic has “highlighted serious long established fragilities in our health and social care system, especially in terms of staffing capacity”. The Minister again acknowledged that the past 13 months have been extremely challenging for staff and stated that he is hopeful that the publication of these plans signal a gradual return to normal duties for staff.

The Trust rebuild plans are in fact based on five principles, which include:

  • that we de-escalate ICU as a region;
  • that staff are afforded an opportunity to take entitled annual leave;
  • that elective care is prioritised regionally to ensure that those most in clinical need, regardless of place of residence, get access first;
  • that all Trusts seek to develop green pathways with the aim to maximise theatre throughput; and
  • that the Belfast City Hospital Nightingale is prioritised for ICU de-escalation to increase regional complex surgery capacity as quickly as possible.

Minister Swann spoke of the desire to be ambitious about the future of Health and Social Care, building back better and learning the lessons of the pandemic in terms of capacity, resilience and investment. Speaking on the need for further investment he added,

“However, without a significant and recurrent funding commitment from the Executive, I fear that we will be severely restricted in our ability to deliver. We will be fighting the scourge of waiting lists with at least one hand tied behind our backs.

“We must start putting this right. It is a long-term task and it needs long-term, recurrent funding.”

Mr Swann also informed MLAs that detailed plans are being finalised on both waiting times and cancer care. These will shortly be issued for public consultation, as will a review of urgent and emergency care.

You can read about the plans in more detail here.