Frontline health and social services in Northern Ireland must be more integrated

The required re-organisation of health and social services in
Northern Ireland must incorporate greater frontline integration of
health and social care services, a review of service provision

The review, commissioned by the Northern Ireland health minister
Bairbre de Brun, argues that “to do nothing is not an option”.

The report states: “The integration of health and social
services was seen by the vast majority of people we spoke to as a
strength. However, the need for further on the ground operational
integration was recognised as a key requirement for the delivery of
a truly seamless service.”

It proposes a new system of three health and social care systems
– northern, southern and greater Belfast – to replace the existing
18 health trusts. Social services, primary care services and
community services will be an integral part of these.

“The establishment of three health and social care systems will
provide opportunities for staff from different professions, and
from primary care and secondary care and social services to work
together in multi-disciplinary teams delivering a seamless service
to patients,” the review states.

A new Northern Ireland strategic health and social services
authority would also be established to replace the four health
boards, the report suggests. The strategic authority would have no
operational role in relation to service delivery, but would be the
place where those charged with commissioning services and those
providing services should come together.

A single statutory consumer body would be set up to monitor the
operation and policies of both the three health and social services
systems and the strategic health authority, and ensure the views of
patients and social services users are central to policy
development and practice.

It concludes: “The day of the stand alone institution attempting
to do everything from its own resources, acting in isolation from
the wider system is already gone.”



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