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Ex-Basque Country minister leads healthcare system expert panel

Published 07/01/2016

The panel will bring local expertise and an international perspective, said DUP Health Minister Simon Hamilton
The panel will bring local expertise and an international perspective, said DUP Health Minister Simon Hamilton

A former Basque Country government minister is to lead an expert panel tasked with overseeing the transformation of Northern Ireland's ailing healthcare system.

Professor Rafael Bengoa, who spent 15 years with the World Health Organisation (WHO), is among six people appointed to the group.

DUP Health Minister Simon Hamilton said: "This will be a clinically led process to advise us what services the people of Northern Ireland should expect from their health and social care system.

"The panel will bring local expertise and an international perspective to this challenging but essential piece of work."

The team of experts was announced last year when Mr Hamilton unveiled the most radical shake-up for five years.

The abolition of the Health and Social Care Board which commissions services for the six health trusts that deliver the NHS and the establishment of a transformation fund to pay for cost-saving initiatives were also revealed as part of the reform process.

Mr Hamilton added: "We know that health and social care is facing significant challenges in the coming years. Our population is increasing in size and is getting older, more people are living with chronic conditions, unhealthy lifestyles are creating more demand for services and new developments in medical technologies and drugs are increasing demand and raising costs.

"We cannot afford to stand still. We have to transform our health and social care system to make sure we can continue to deliver world class services. I am therefore appointing an expert panel to lead the debate on the optimal configuration of health and social care services in Northern Ireland."

Prof Bengoa served a s minister for health and consumer affairs in the Basque government in Spain from 2009 to 2012.

He practised as a doctor for seven years in both hospital and primary care, was a WHO director in Copenhagen and Geneva until 2006 and has co-authored numerous healthcare policy documents in Spain and further afield.

He is also a senior fellow of Harvard School of Public Health, vice chairman of the European Commission's advisory group Horizon 20/20 looking at health, demography and wellbeing and director of the health department at the Spanish Deusto Business School.

The other panel members are Mairead McAlinden, chief executive of Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust in England; Professor John Ovretveit from the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm; Bronagh Scott, deputy chief nurse for the NHS England London region; east Belfast GP Dr Alan Stout; and Mark Taylor, a consultant in general and hepatobiliary surgery.

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