Belfast Telegraph

Healthcare reform summit 'constructive', expert says

A special summit on reforming Northern Ireland's beleaguered healthcare system has been described as "constructive".

Professor Rafael Bengoa, the expert charged with helping to shape the future for health, said he was encouraged political leaders had agreed to work together.

He said: " Today we had a very constructive discussion with the political representatives and everyone was in agreement that we need to work together to deliver the best possible health outcomes for Northern Ireland's population and to tackle the inequalities which exist."

First Minister Arlene Foster was among those who convened at the Stormont Hotel in Belfast for the day-long discussion session.

Representatives from the four other main political parties were also in attendance.

They were presented with a discussion paper containing draft principles on the way forward and have been asked to report back with views by February 26.

Prof Bengoa, a former Basque country government minister who spent 15 years with the World Health Organisation (WHO), was appointed chair of the six-person panel of experts tasked with overseeing transformation of the health system.

The panel includes east Belfast GP Dr Alan Stout and Mark Taylor, a consultant in general and hepatobiliary surgery.

Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Mairead McAlinden, Professor John Ovretveit, from the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, and Bronagh Scott, deputy chief nurse for the NHS England London region, are also on the panel.

He added: "I and my fellow panel members want to thank those that attended the summit for their open and full engagement in the discussion which has given us encouragement to move forward."

The panel was suggested by Sir Liam Donaldson, whose report in 2015 found there were too many hospitals in Northern Ireland.

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