Belfast Telegraph

John Compton: Your NHS is still a fine institution

By John Compton

Today I am retiring after a 40-year career in health and social care. I do so with an immense sense of pride in all of the staff who really do make a difference in people's lives on a daily basis, in spite of the many challenges they face.

Very often health and social care hits the headlines for the wrong reasons. With more than 100,000 people using health and social care services every day, we won't always get it right and, when we don't, we have a duty to learn from any mistakes.

Each day, around £10m is spent on health and social care in Northern Ireland and, for the 2% that occasionally goes wrong, 98% goes well.

It is really important that this is also recognised and that the public has confidence in health and social care services.

We have much to be proud of. Patients having a heart attack are now taken to a catheterisation laboratory in Belfast that is capable of undertaking the procedure 24 hours, seven days a week.

This is transforming outcomes for many patients and will be expanded into the west of the province later this year.

In Northern Ireland, we have the most successful live donor transplant service in the UK, with more than 50 live transplants in each of the last three years.

The establishment of integrated care partnerships brings together a wide range of professionals to improve outcomes for patients with diabetes, respiratory problems, stroke patients and the frail elderly.

We know that, with an ageing population, increasing demands and decreasing budgets, change isn't just an option – it is an absolute necessity.

To continue to deliver the changes set out in Transforming Your Care will require leadership, political courage, adequate resources and public support.

There also needs to be a wider debate about what the public needs and expects from their health and social care service.

If there is one thing I have learned over 40 years, it is that people make up the health and social care system – whether they provide, or receive, the care.

It is their integrity that fuels my optimism for the future.

* John Compton is chief executive of the Health and Social Care Board

Belfast Telegraph


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