Wary health reform may strip services

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THE people of Mid Ulster need reassurances that their health will not be jeopardised by the stripping away of services in the district, says MLA Patsy McGlone.

Speaking following Edwin Poots’ statement on the Compton Review which proposed changes to the entire health care system over the next five years, Mr McGlone said the people of Mid Ulster should not be ‘further negatively impacted by healthcare reforms’.

“Michael McGimpsey stripped away services from Magherafelt – what reassurances will the minister give to the people of this area that services will be improved, when this will happen and that, in the case of trauma incidents, that people will not be jeopardised by the stripping of services?” he asked the Minister.

And after the Assembly debate, he said: “We welcome the Compton Review and recognise the hard work of the team behind it as they sought to do a thorough job of looking at ways to improve health and social care in the North of Ireland.

“However, the report, though heavy on analysis, provides little in the way of detailed recommendations and, given the past disservices done to the people of Mid-Ulster by healthcare reforms under past ministers, there are serious questions to be answered.

“I will be lobbying hard on behalf of the people of Mid-Ulster to ensure that their health is not put at risk by further degradation of services.”

The Compton Review recommends halving the number of acute hospitals in Northern Ireland from ten to five.

The review also recommended that much greater emphasis should be placed on treating people in their own homes and in the community.

It recommended a greater focus on improving health and social services for the youngest children.

The review said there should be a re-structuring of existing services to develop a new ‘Headstart’ programme focusing on 0-5 year olds.

It added that early intervention to support the development of young children was one of the most cost-effective aspects of social care.

The minister said there would be “a significant shift” from provision of services in hospitals into GP surgeries where it was “safe and effective to do this”.

To pay for that, £83m will be taken out of hospital services and put into community care.

The minister said the review was not about cost-cutting but would mean a “significant shift” in where funding was allocated.

He also warned that the changes would not be straightforward and would require “fundamental changes” to the way services were delivered.