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Swann reveals future of Northern Ireland health service post COVID-19

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Northern Ireland faces a massive challenge rebuilding health and social care in the wake of the first COVID-19 wave, Health Minister Robin Swann has said.

Speaking at the Northern Ireland Assembly on Tuesday, Mr Swann said that the rebuilding process can secure better ways of delivering services but will require innovation, sustained investment and society-wide support.

He said that services will not be able to resume as before and that rebuilding will be significantly constrained by the continuing threat from COVID-19 and the need to protect the public and staff from the virus.

“Our health and social care system was in very serious difficulties long before Coronavirus reached these shores. The virus has taken the situation to a whole new level. The Health and Social Care system has had its own lockdown – services were scaled back substantially to keep people safe and to focus resources on caring for those with COVID-19."

The Health Minister said that despite the pressures, there are opportunities to make improvements.

“I have seen so many examples of excellence, innovation and commitment as our health and social care staff rose to the challenges created by COVID-19. Decisions were taken at pace, services were re-configured, mountains were moved. Staff have worked across traditional boundaries time and time again. I cannot thank them enough. We must build on that spirit in the months and years ahead. Innovations like telephone triage and video consultations will be embedded in primary and secondary care.”

Mr Swann added that the health system can't go back to the way it was and that it must be improved.

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Source: Belfast Telegraph, 9 June 2020

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