Edwin Poots: Our health service is improving
It is three years since I was given the privilege of becoming Health Minister and, while no one would argue that it hasn't been a challenge, there has been a lot of positive progress.
Since 2012 our health and social care (HSC) system has been undergoing change to tackle the single biggest pressure facing health services worldwide: a growing ageing population.
Implementation of the biggest reform of the health service in a generation – Transforming Your Care – means more people are treated at home, or in primary-care settings.
Two recent surveys show our health service is constantly improving. In April 2014, the Nuffield Trust reported the HSC had made significant improvements in life expectancy; huge improvements in stroke care; improved ambulance response times, and had made significant reductions in waiting times for knee and hip replacements.
The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency's Health Survey Northern Ireland demonstrated high levels of satisfaction with our hospitals, GPs and pharmacies.
Inpatient and outpatient waits are much better. The number spending longer than 12 hours in emergency departments is down by 73% from May 2011. Our innovation has been recognised across the world.
I am constantly seeking to improve our infrastructure and, in the last three years, I have approved multi-million pound projects in all trust areas, including the new radiotherapy unit at Altnagelvin, Lisburn Health & Care Centre, the new Children's Hospital in Belfast, Banbridge Health & Care Centre and Ballymena Health & Care Centre.
I also accompanied the Queen when she opened the new South West Acute Hospital. Life-saving primary percutaneous coronary intervention for heart attack has also been introduced.
Since 2011, we have 130 more doctors, 640 more nurses and 320 more allied health professionals.
More than 70,000 people deliver health and social care to hundreds of thousands of people every single day and our community is deeply indebted to them.
- Edwin Poots MLA is Minister of Health