Build it back, build it better – NICON Health and Social Care conference…

Last week I attended NICON 2020 usually held in La Mon hotel this conference was held virtually and although it is essentially an “industry” event, all stakeholders were welcome. Which included yours truly who as a service user was allocated a ticket through my involvement with The Patient Client Council The Department of Health website describes NICON as “a Health and Social Care platform which exists to influence policy, support and brief members, inform and influence the media and politicians …

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‘I’m talking about a culture change in government in Northern Ireland: I mean the civil service and politicians’

Evidence-based policy-making is largely absent from government in Northern Ireland, but the new Pivotal think-tank has been established to correct that, says its director Ann Watt. She was speaking in the last of the second series of Holywell Trust Forward Together podcasts.    The aim of Pivotal “is to help improve public policy in Northern Ireland,” says Ann. “It’s got a strong emphasis on research and evidence and on using evidence better in public policy.” The very first Pivotal report, published in November last year, …

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“Most people believe social care should be free, but there’s a lot of confusion out there”

Social care must be reformed. If it wasn’t clear before the Covid-19 pandemic, it has become tragically obvious over recent weeks. So this is an opportune time to hear in the latest Holywell Trust Forward Together podcast from Deirdre Heenan, professor of social policy at Ulster University and joint author nine years ago of a major study into Northern Ireland’s health and social care system. “The vast majority of people accept and want the NHS to be free at the …

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Who wants to be a hero?

Anne Madden, former Health Correspondent of The Irish News and freelance writer. All views my own. In recent commemorations we’ve looked back in anger and dismay at the atrocious waste of life during World War 1. A century ago feckless army generals sent thousands of young soldiers ‘over the top’ with mere hand rifles and bayonets into the line of machine gunfire. The ‘glorious dead’ were celebrated as heroes willing to sacrifice their lives for the nation. While everyone was …

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Pandemics come and go; but smoking, air pollution and poverty are ever present…

The always excellent Dr Phil Hammond gives a much-needed sense of perspective on the Coronavirus outbreak in his latest MD column for Private Eye. Click the image below to enlarge it to read the text, read all 3 images. In a world that continues to lose its mind, it’s always reassuring to have the comforting common sense of Private Eye, and “MD” in particular. pic.twitter.com/Ee5IPk1Nzi — Are you on crack? (@Cymroid) March 4, 2020 They estimate there are around 8.8m …

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Soapbox – Here we go again?

SOAPBOX – The PUP’s Councillor John Kyle reflects on the talks process, calling for elected representatives to listen to the voters and move beyond virtue signalling and blaming others to take action and deliver results by overcoming their mutual animosity. “Petty party politics has failed, the people deserve better.”

Where does the buck stop with the health service?

With the ongoing crisis in our public health infrastructure it is important to remember one key element which is not examined in depth, especially in periods of strike action; accountability of management. The media narrative being spun by some that a disgruntled workforce of nurses have exacerbated a crisis ought to be heavily countered and discredited as it is simply untrue. As documented by every outlet during a sitting Stormont administration and since then during the hiatus, the health crisis …

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Americanizing the NHS

I was on a boat in the middle of the Gulf of Finland when I found out my uncle had passed away. We all knew it was coming, but the speed with which it arrived sent my head and heart spinning, because once again I would miss the funeral of a family member. That part of the story is more about being an immigrant; another story for another time. The part of being an immigrant that is relevant here, is …

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“I can not understand why this population is so docile. If you trample on their cultural identity they will riot in the streets. But if their grannies’ legs are literally falling off they just accept it as that’s life…”

Wise words from the good doctor who was interviewed on BBC Spotlight about the health waiting lists. Here we go… number 1 pic.twitter.com/UOUMdhH26W — Adam Turkington (@AdamTurks) December 4, 2019 As you may know, I have written some posts about the health service. It can dismay you how few readers they get. A post on health will get 500 readers; a post on bonfires will get 5000. I have often thought about why this is. The only thing I can …

Read more…“I can not understand why this population is so docile. If you trample on their cultural identity they will riot in the streets. But if their grannies’ legs are literally falling off they just accept it as that’s life…”

Support nurses’ fight for safe and effective care in Northern Ireland…

If you have been stuck in traffic behind a bus somewhere in Northern Ireland this week, you may well have spotted an advertising campaign referencing Northern Ireland’s thousands of missing nurses. This relates to today’s launch, for the first time in its 103-year history, of a Royal College of Nursing [RCN] ballot of members in Northern Ireland on taking industrial action, including strike action, over the nurse staffing crisis in the Health and Social Care service. Nurses have been warning …

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The importance of doing what you can to improve your health…

The wife’s uncle in America has died. Years ago he was like a lot of the population. He was gaining weight, not an unusual situation in this modern world of cheap junk food and sedentary lifestyle. The doctor diagnosed him with type 2 diabetes and prescribed him lots of pills and potions, so far a familiar tale. But what he did next shocked us all – he turned vegan. He had conservative views on many social matters, so I didn’t …

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Northern Ireland outpatient waiting lists are 100 times more than England’s…

FactCheckNI confirms Mark H Durkins comment on the health waiting lists: From the article: CLAIM: 105,486 people were waiting over a year for a consultant-led outpatient appointment in Northern Ireland, which is 100 times more than in England, with its population 30 times greater. CONCLUSION: ACCURATE. 105,486 and 1,089 people were waiting over a year for a consultant-led outpatient appointment in Northern Ireland and England, respectively. The estimated population of Northern Ireland and England is 55,977,178 and 1,881,600, respectively. The …

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The impact of Brexit on Health in Northern Ireland…

Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg was on Nick Ferrari’s LBC show on Monday 2 September; he was taking phone calls. Dr David Nicholl, a consultant neurologist, called to ask what mortality rates could be expected in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Dr Nicholl wrote the relevant mitigation part in the Operation Yellowhammer document. Rees-Mogg has been characterised in the past as having quite exquisite politeness, extreme almost to farce. He wasn’t at all polite to the caller, saying that this was …

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‘Citizens’ Assembly could help progress with health reform’, suggests Simon Hamilton

The adoption of a citizens’ assembly could assist with making progress with reform of the health service in Northern Ireland, says Simon Hamilton – a DUP MLA and former health and finance minister.  He was interviewed in the latest ‘Forward Together’ podcast. Speaking about the use of citizens’ assemblies in the Republic of Ireland, Simon explains: “They shouldn’t be dismissed instantly just because you didn’t like what some other jurisdiction was doing with them.”  He adds: “I know from my …

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‘Let’s create an all-island, integrated, health service, and let’s begin now’

There needs to be an all-island, integrated, health service, and its creation should not be dependent upon the agreement or timing of a united Ireland, argues Professor Jim Dornan – one of the architects of existing cross-border co-operation in health services.  Jim was interviewed in the latest Forward Together podcast. “In many ways Ireland is a Goldilocks sized country for health provision,” he explains.  “We can cherry pick the best of health provision throughout the world and let’s introduce it …

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Future Ireland / Healthcare in ‘A New Ireland’

In producing the report – now a book – ‘A New Ireland’ this year, I conducted lots of interviews asking people about the prospect of Irish reunification.  The issue of healthcare in a united Ireland was consistently cited as a major concern. Northern perceptions of the southern system are very negative.  Views within the Republic are not that positive either, for sound reasons.  But it is only fair to point out that the NHS in Northern Ireland is in crisis.  …

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Let’s play shuffle the Granny! The absurdity of our health service waiting lists…

Good report by Seanín Graham in today’s Irish News on the surreal situation of patients going abroad for surgery. Essentially a patient can pay to get treated in another European country and the health service will reimburse them the cost when they come home. With waiting lists up to 4 or 5 years for operations like hip replacements many patients are taking this approach, and who could blame them. From the article: A SPIKE in the number of patients travelling across Europe for …

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It would be a tragic mistake to miss out (again) on any future expansion of health budgets

It’s best to treat Theresa May’s NHS/Brexit announcement with some scepticism, but perhaps not too much. It may well be what Robert Shrimsley calls “snake oil sloganising”, but an important political concession has been made. The NHS is running almost on empty, and needs a rebasing injection of funds. But it will also needs accompanying reforms. Not least in Northern Ireland, where we missed out on the Chancellor Brown years when funding ran relatively freely. Whether May ever delivers that …

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Happy Birthday NHS: What changes are necessary, and how might we make them?

Tonight’s Slugger event is highly focused on health policy, for which we make no apologies. One poor feature of devolution in Northern Ireland is its retreat from policy in favour of populism. However, this is also a wider feature of western democracy. About a year before the last but one UK general election, this animated conversation between Professor John Kay and Steve Richards illustrates the exact same casual (ie, uncosted) retreat taking place elsewhere: In Northern Ireland (as elsewhere), there …

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What’s happening to our health service?

Director of Communications for the health and social care system David Gordon shares his thoughts after six months in the job So where do you start when describing health and social care here? Serious problems are in the news almost every day. It would be wrong to ever downplay those problems. And yet they are not the full story. Great care is still being delivered by great staff every single day. The most recent Health Survey showed compliments from the …

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