Talking reconciliation with SF over health reforms, but can the DUP walk the walk?

Some positive talk here from the DUP Leader Arlene Foster on the eve of the 70th birthday of the NHS…

The NHS cannot afford to stand still, and here in Northern Ireland we have our own specific challenges. Though, we are fortunate in the Bengoa Report to have a roadmap that other jurisdictions don’t as yet, to an improved and sustainable service.

Former DUP Health Ministers Edwin Poots and Simon Hamilton saw the need for transformation, established strong relationships with Professor Bengoa and, through their actions, contributed to bringing us to the place where fundamental reform can be realised.

The consensus that they helped build was taken forward by Michelle O’Neill culminating with the last Executive embracing the Bengoa vision. 

In my view, health transformation is the most important task facing a restored Northern Ireland Government. Our existing model was designed for the circumstances of the middle of the last century.

The challenges have changed.  Transformation will positively change the system to make it fit for purpose for patients and staff and capable of enduring for the next seventy years.

The focus must and will be on producing the very best outcomes for patients who will receive the care they need in the right place and at the right time and on empowering health professionals to innovate and lead. [Emphasis added]

It’s, of course, ‘nice to be nice’, but the Bengoa reforms are easier to talk about than to enact, not least because there are no painless reforms in health. However, just getting back to work would be a useful start.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty