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Vision welcomed but concern that detail is missing

By Rebecca Black

Published 26/10/2016

The Bengoa Report has been broadly welcomed - but there is concern from opposition parties over the lack of detail.

Health Minister Michelle O'Neill unveiled the 10-year vision for the health service yesterday.

The Royal College of General Practitioners NI welcomed the Minister's pledge to increase the number of GP training places and also her commitment to increasing exposure to general practice in medical school.

Chairman Dr John O'Kelly said it was the start of a long road to necessary reform.

"By valuing GP federations, innovative ways of working, use of technology and multidisciplinary primary care teams, patients should have access to better community-based services; however, the full extent to which this will impact on the existing pressures in general practice will only be known when we see the detail relating to resource and implementation plans," he said.

The British Medical Association's Northern Ireland Council welcomed the acknowledgement that clinical staff need to be involved in finding solutions.

NI Council chair John Wood said: "The Minister's plans to further separate planned services and emergency services by bringing forward proposals for elective care centres and assessment and treatment centres will hopefully help reduce waiting times, which will go some way to alleviating waiting list problems in primary and secondary care, which the Minister acknowledges as a serious problem in her report."

Roisin Foster, chief executive of Cancer Focus NI, said they have confidence in the Minister.

"The number of people being diagnosed with cancer every year is increasing, so the move to invest in preventative measures - helping people to reduce their risk of cancer and live well for longer - is very welcome," she said.

"But we also need targeted work to reduce cancer waiting times immediately, to lower patient anxiety and the fear that their cancer is progressing while they wait."

But Ulster Unionist health spokesperson Jo-Anne Dobson said the lack of detail on costs undermined the report.

She said the Executive was "more interested in engaging in a public relations exercise rather than actually getting to grips with the serious challenges affecting our health service."

She added: "It would be a disgrace if this opportunity is missed."

SDLP health spokesman Mark H Durkan said Ms O'Neill was "showing an appetite to address the crisis facing our health service".

But he also criticised a lack of detail over the cost of implementing the report.

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