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Northern Ireland healthcare system at 'breaking point' and needs reform to survive, warns minister Michelle O'Neill

By Rebecca Black

Published 25/10/2016

First Minister, Arlene Foster, deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, Health Minister, Michelle O'Neill and Professor, Rafael Bengoa pictured at an Executive meeting held in Parliament Buildings. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
First Minister, Arlene Foster, deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, Health Minister, Michelle O'Neill and Professor, Rafael Bengoa pictured at an Executive meeting held in Parliament Buildings. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Northern Ireland's healthcare system is set to be transformed to ensure it survives.

Health Minister Michelle O'Neill launched a 10-year vision on Tuesday to tackle a system which she has described as being "at breaking point".

The plan, entitled Health and Wellbeing 2026, comes after a major report by a expert panel led by Professor Rafael Bengoa.

It was delivered to Ms O'Neill in June and is published for the first time today, along with the minister's decade-long vision.

Professor Bengoa's report, Systems, Not Structures: Changing Health and Social Care, includes 14 recommendations.

He said the healthcare system in Northern Ireland faces a "stark choice".

"It can either resist change and see services deteriorate to the point of collapse over time, or embrace transformation and work to create a modern sustainable service that is properly equipped to help people stay as healthy as possible and to provide them with the right type of care when they need it," he said.

"We have tried to produce a report that will make a practical contribution to implementing change and which will support the minister's ambitious, and wholly necessary, roadmap to reform.

"Transformation will not be simple, but the panel has no doubt that Northern Ireland has both the people and the energy to deliver a world class health and care system."

The Bengoa Report is the third major report recommending a transformation of the health service in recent times following the Donaldson Report in 2014, and John Compton's Transforming Your Care report in (2011) which recommended to closure of a number of smaller hospitals in Northern Ireland.

Ms O'Neill will present her vision to the Assembly this morning.

More: Watch Stormont live: Health Minister O'Neill delivers Bengoa report on future of Northern Ireland healthcare

Minister's 10-year vision statement Health and Wellbeing 2026: Delivering Together is available for download here.

Professor Rafael Bengoa's report and executive summary are available to download here.

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