Ulster Unionist Health Spokesperson, Jo-Anne Dobson MLA, has said the failure of the Executive to include any detail, particularly on costs, has greatly undermined the publication of recommendations by the expert panel led by Professor Bengoa.
Jo-Anne Dobson said:
“The crisis currently consuming almost every aspect of our local health service is unprecedented with the gulf between capacity and demand widening year by year. It is obvious to everyone that change is required and I therefore welcome the emphasis by Professor Bengoa on the so-called Triple Aim framework.
“I am disappointed however that the Executive have taken what should have been an important opportunity and in their response to it have only generated further questions than answers.
“In fact, the absence of detail despite the Minister receiving the report 14 weeks ago, and the over-reliance on bland comments in the Minister’s remarks to the Assembly, was indicative of an Executive more interested in engaging in a public relations exercise rather than actually getting to grips with the serious challenges affecting our health service.
“It would be a disgrace if this opportunity is missed. The experience of how the last major policy of Transforming Your Care (TYC) fell apart due to a lack of funding guarantees must remain to the forefront of all our minds. The total absence of costings in today’s report therefore does not bode well for the future.
“The Minister has acknowledged that a period of double-running will be required, and that is at least a sensible recognition. It is disappointing however, that on the same day as the Finance Minister was in the Assembly Chamber making budgetary reallocations through the October Monitoring Round, these reforms barely got a reference.
“Finally – the Minister claimed in the Assembly that these proposals have a political mandate. The Ulster Unionist Party always said we were prepared to play a constructive role in this review. Unfortunately, however, attending one political summit meeting in February and a 1-hour meeting with Professor Bengoa in June does not amount to political buy-in. In fact, earlier this year we suggested a further meeting of all political parties and this was never agreed to. Even yesterday we sought a meeting with the Minister and this was declined. The Minister needs to be more honest: at present the only political mandate that these proposals have so far is from the DUP and Sinn Fein.”