A Healthier NI

Significant challenges lie ahead in delivering high quality health services to meet the growing expectations of the public. Greater productivity and efficiency are essential.

A Healthier NI

A DUP Health Minister would seek to:

  • Reconfigure provision to shift the 25-30% of care currently carried out inappropriately in hospitals, into the community- patients must be treated in the right place at the right time by the right people, not over-relying on the most specialised and expensive services
  • Slash the excessive per capita spending on Departmental and administrative costs to the levels in the rest of the UK
  • Overhaul commissioning to have budgets held at local level and all decisions on non-regional services taken locally- local commissioning with strong clinician involvement across the water has improved primary care services, made prescribing more efficient and created community-based alternatives to hospital care. There is also evidence that groups controlling real budgets were able to secure shorter waiting times, achieve lower referral rates and reduce emergency bed-days
  • Transform the range of services which are tendered for including areas such as social care, asset management, transport, fleet maintenance and facilities management. External support could also be explored for human resources, accounting, data analysis and back-office functions
  • Overhaul procurement in light of the National Audit Office Report which indicated that in England savings on consumables amounting to £500m per year could be achieved if trusts came together to buy products in a more collaborative way- some trusts were paying 50% more than others for the same medical equipment and other supplies
  • Have 80% of domiciliary care provided by charities and other nonstatutory organisations by 2015, releasing savings extending to tens of millions of pounds per year
  • Improve the productivity of all aspects of the health service by 2015 to start catching up with other comparable areas across Europe
  • Incorporate the Public Health Agency within the Health and Social Care Board and review the role of the Business Services Organisation and Patient Client Council
  • Allocate to public health an increasing percentage of the overall health budget with a view to increasing spend on health promotion and disease prevention beyond £100 million, to more than two and a half times the 2007 figure
  • Introduce a Dignity Charter for Older People in Hospital
  • Increase investment in intermediate care and rehabilitation to treat more patients with chronic illnesses at home rather than requiring hospital admission
  • Restore the Minor Ailments Scheme, and establish the Province’s 531 community pharmacies, which every day are visited by close to 10% of the Province’s adult population, as a key component of our health promotion network
  • Resolve Community Pharmacy Contract negotiations and implement swiftly
  • Provide fair and reasonable funding for community pharmacies, particularly dispensing fees and Special Advance payments
  • Provide sufficient resources for a range of modifications including fitting hand and grab rails in elderly people’s homes to prevent falls and the subsequent treatment costs for hip fractures
  • Publish an Allied Health Professionals strategy and support a self referral scheme for physiotherapy which has provided annual savings of £2 million in Scotland
  • Introduce a 24 hour Province-wide consultant-led thrombolysis service for stroke and work towards a target of conducting brain scans for stroke within three hours
  • Restore the funding originally earmarked for the stroke strategy
  • Carry out at least one hundred more cardiac operations per year in Northern Ireland making savings from sending less patients to Dublin or Great Britain
  • Ensure everyone who needs cardiac rehabilitation can access it
  • Co-ordinate research into multiple sclerosis and expand the network of neuro-physiotherapists across the Province
  • Frontload funding for the first few years of life, investing in health promotion and preventative and early intervention measures
  • Explore means including fixed penalty notices to reduce drunkenness and violence in Accident and Emergency departments and throughout the health care system
  • Expand our addictions provision
  • Utilise fully ICT including progressing a single electronic health record for each patient
  • Continue vigilance against health care acquired infections
  • Mnimise waiting times for assessment and treatment across the Northern Ireland health service
  • Ensure patients’ review appointments are not delayed or cancelled in order to meet politically-driven targets- these have skewed resources and led to distorted clinical priorities
  • Continue progress on reducing the number of deaths and injuries on our roads
  • Require generic prescribing
  • Develop more specialist nurses in diabetes, heart failure and respiratory disease, particularly in community based multidisciplinary teams - the Chronic Illness Management Service has seen bed days reduced by 59% and savings of £1,493 per patient realised
  • Explore the potential for Northern Ireland to be included in the NHS Choices website which has provided a better service and saved close to £50 million in England
  • Oppose extension of the 1967 Abortion Act to Northern Ireland
  • Provide more respite packages and short breaks for those with disabilities and their families- one study calculated that £174 million could be saved annually in England through provision of short breaks
  • Overhaul the Regional Autistic Spectrum Disorders Network and speed up diagnosis and intervention for autism
  • Support quality standards in audiology
  • Improve support for tinnitus sufferers
  • Make progress in implementing the UK Vision Strategy, seek to eliminate avoidable sight loss and promote independence for blind and partially sighted people
  • Support collaboration between statutory, private and voluntary bodies such as the example from Scotland of electronic images from High Street optometrists being assessed by hospital clinicians
  • Review the bonus system for senior clinicians and management
  • Reduce the number of children entering care
  • Conduct a study into levels of malnutrition across Northern Ireland
  • Greater transparency in funding for children’s services
  • Encourage those with disabilities to participate in sport, including activities such as Special Olympics
  • Support rolling out of emergency life skills training and development of a first responder network
  • The DUP prefers individuals to have the maximum control over their lives. However there are aspects of personal behaviour which evidence clearly demonstrates are causing harm to individuals and others who come into contact with them, and which results in massive costs to the public purse. Consequently in such circumstances a DUP Minister will pursue the measures listed below:
  • Promote uptake of screening and immunization programmes
  • Support screening and public health messages for hearing and vision
  • Reduce rate of teen pregnancy through expanding education and awareness raising programmes in schools


  • Raise awareness of the long-term health risks associated with alcohol
  • Support measures to reduce alcohol consumption including an end to promotions such as ‘happy hours’, banning the sale of alcohol below cost price and ensuring any introduction of minimum pricing is targeted at an appropriate level to impact on binge drinkers
  • Explore the introduction of a rates levy on off licences and supermarkets selling alcohol at their premises- extra revenue generated could be used for dealing with adverse impacts of alcohol abuse in society
  • Support planned interventions from specialist alcohol liaison nurses which have been shown to help 40% of dependent drinkers give up alcohol altogether
  • Expand our addictions provision
  • Consider extension of Designated Public Place Orders which have proved a success on the mainland


  • Encourage fast food outlets, restaurants, sandwich chains, cafes, public houses and company canteens to display calorie counts on menus
  • Seek to reduce salt content of bread, cereals, margarine and other processed foods and prevent the use of artificial trans-fats
  • Explore measures to prevent inappropriate advertising and sponsorship for unhealthy foods targeted at young people
  • Halt the erosion of sporting facilities in schools and communities
  • Encourage physical activity and practical cookery classes in schools
  • Increase the number of regular cyclists


  • Implement a new tobacco control strategy
  • Approve tobacco regulations
  • Outlaw smoking in cars with young children
  • Increase the number of smoke-free homes
  • Promote smoking cessation services
  • Take further action to combat tobacco smuggling and trade in counterfeit cigarettes


  • Implement a Service Framework for Cancer
  • Establish cancer care pathways for patients
  • Ensure early diagnosis and treatment
  • Promote greater public awareness of early signs and symptoms of cancer
  • Reduce mortality from bowel cancer through expansion of the screening programme
  • Benchmark trusts’ performance against survival rates in Great Britain
  • Open a new radiotherapy centre in Londonderry
  • Develop brachytherapy services
  • Expand the network of specialist cancer nurses
  • Promote services offering financial advice for cancer sufferers and assistance to get them back to work
  • Support expansion of the Winter Fuel Allowance to cancer sufferers
  • Ensure all patients with a stoma have a named nurse
  • Increase the number of patients participating in clinical trials
  • Enhance provision of 24 hour palliative care support
  • Support the World Health Organisation view that palliative care should incorporate physical, psychological and spiritual needs


  • Promote positive mental health and wellbeing
  • Reduce the number of suicides and parasuicides
  • Instil resilience and coping skills in young people
  • Implement an effective dementia strategy
  • Reconfigure services shifting resources from acute to community-based services as outlined in the Bamford report
  • Improve access to Child and Adolescent Mental Health services
  • Take forward mental capacity legislation
  • Ensure faster access to psychotherapy services
  • Explore means for the public sector to offer training and placement opportunities to people recovering from mental illness


  • Explore ways including fixed penalty notices to reduce drunkenness and violence in Accident and Emergency departments and throughout the health care system
  • Patients with a history of violence to have a warning marker placed on their health record
  • Training on how to deal with violent patients
  • Enforce zero tolerance approach
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