Robin Swann has urged the public to show 'patience' as the health service in Northern Ireland begins to emerge from the Covid-19 crisis.
The Health Minister unveiled plans to restart vital cancer services, paediatric services, as well as mental health and addiction services.
The initial three-month plans depend on there being no resurgence of the coronavirus.
"Covid-19 is still with us and will continue to impact on the extent to which and how we deliver health and social care services," the Minister said.
"We need to increase the services as soon as possible and at the same time prepare for potential future surges.
"We need to be able to maintain social distancing while delivering for the many citizens who are waiting on a procedure or a diagnosis.
"I do not underestimate the challenge ahead and there will be a need to prioritise services given the significant constraints that our health and social care services continue to face.
"The public support throughout the pandemic has given strength to all of our health and social care staff."
Mr Swann said the Covid-19 emergency was the most challenging period ever encountered by the sector.
"I would urge the public to continue supporting our health and social care staff and show patience during this rebuilding phase."
The plans include exploring the feasibility of reopening the Downe Hospital Emergency Department - the first phase being the provision of a Minor Injuries Service. Paediatric triage is also earmarked to return to the main emergency department at Craigavon Area Hospital.