Northern Ireland healthcare has improved, claims Bengoa
The man who headed up the latest review of the health service in Northern Ireland has said the political vacuum has not stopped improvements being made.
Professor Rafael Bengoa, who led the team that produced a 10-year blueprint for the future of healthcare in 2016, said he was neither disappointed or concerned at the rate of change.
Prof Bengoa, a former Basque health minister, said he did not believe the lack of an Assembly would stop civil servants pressing ahead with the recommendations his report made. "Transformation is still possible even without a government," he said.
"Except in those situations where you want to legislate, you would have to have a stable government."
He added: "I don't think the political situation here has stopped change because things have moved on."
However, Professor Bengoa did accept that 18 months on from the publication of the report, hospital waiting lists in Northern Ireland are still growing.
According to most recent figures, at the end of March 83,392 people were waiting longer than a year for their first appointment with a hospital doctor.
This compared to 53,113 people waiting longer than a year for a first outpatient appointment at the same time last year.
Work has been ongoing to transform the way the health service in Northern Ireland is run in light of the recommendations made by Prof Bengoa and his team.
Their report was published in October 2016 and to date, a range of projects have been implemented that are designed to reduce the strain on overstretched hospitals.