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13.06.20

Royal Colleges meet to discuss NI health system blueprint

As plans are laid out to rebuild Northern Ireland’s health service, medical leaders from the Royal College of GPs, Royal College of Surgeons, Royal College of Physicians Edinburgh and Royal College of Emergency Medicine met with the Northern Irish Health Minister Robin Swann to share expertise.

Acting as a direct response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Rebuilding Health and Social Care Services – Strategic Framework incorporates the collaboration, learning and innovation that emerged over the last three months to address a historically disjointed health and social care system.

In a statement following the meeting, the Royal Colleges collectively stressed the importance of the case for change and the urgent requirement to manage new and existing backlogs of patients on waiting lists. The need for clinician expertise and experience in shaping the services rebuild was also raised as a key need.

As part of the changes, new approaches were necessary across all aspects of care including new ways of delivering consultations in GP surgeries and hospitals with a focus on bringing care to the patient.

Acknowledging the willingness of the Minister and his team to engage with clinicians Mr Mark Taylor, Director of the Royal College of Surgeons in Northern Ireland said: "We welcome the commitment from the Minister that he will listen to clinicians as he sets about rebuilding our healthcare system.

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New approaches were necessary across all aspects of care including new ways of delivering consultations in GP surgeries and hospitals with a focus on bringing care to the patient
 

“We saw how our colleagues across the health service collaborated in innovative ways to look after patients during the pandemic. Rebuilding our services in a safe and timely way is a pressing need and clinicians must be at the heart of designing new, sustainable regional models and pathways of care, now that the peak of infection has passed, and elective care services can resume."

Dr Laurence Dorman, Chair of the Royal College of GPs in Northern Ireland, added: "We also sincerely hope that any changes will improve the patient journey because improving their experience is crucial. GPs enable over 80% of all patient contacts in NI and we would argue that switching services 'back on' requires a twin track approach with both primary and secondary care professions.

“Both need to switch back on at the same pace and both need to hold that same degree of confidence that patients will be better supported.

"GPs are the bedrock of the NI health system, and although we saw a significant drop in patient numbers during the pandemic, we are seeing that flow return. GPs and their multi-disciplinary practice teams are trusted members of the community who continue to deliver high quality care for their patients, many of whom have known us for years and trust us so well.

“We want changes to our health system to work for GPs but to also ensure patient focused care remains at the heart of everything we do."

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