Mr Beggs, Ulster Unionist Party Assemblyman for East Antrim asked the Minister of Health to “advise how delayed discharge is adversely affecting our hospitals and A&E departments and to state what she is doing about it?” during question time at Stormont this week.
In response to Mr Beggs MLA, the Minister said; “It is really important that trusts continue to do absolutely everything they can to avoid delayed discharges. I think they are trying to do everything they can. New initiatives are being looked at for how they can do that; for example, can they have a discharge area that people could be moved to? There are all sorts of issues. There could be family issues or people not being picked up in time. There is a whole raft of reasons. It is important we improve discharges so that we can allow the flow across hospitals to be as effective as possible, we are not blocking beds and staff are not frustrated by all that. I think the Audit Office’s report allows us to learn lessons.
Mr Beggs MLA asked a further question, saying “The report also highlighted the need to enable GPs and other healthcare professionals to provide additional services locally. Does the Minister recognise the benefits of developing modern healthcare and well-being centres in areas such as Larne and Carrickfergus? What capital and resources are going to be committed to enable local GPs and other healthcare practitioners to deliver that?”
Michelle O’Neill MLA, Minister for Health added “It is really important that we invest in primary care. Very clearly, what I set out last week or the week before in ‘Delivering Together’ shows how we are going to plan services for the future. We have to do that collectively, and we have to do it holistically. You cannot look at one element of the health service on its own; you have to look at the whole thing in the round. If we are to be successful in dealing with blockages in hospitals and increased numbers going into hospitals, hospitals should absolutely be the last port of call and services should be available in local communities. To transform the system, that is where we have to invest. I have clearly set out my stall about the fact that I will do that. Only then will people feel confident with and feel they have ownership of the new models. That includes things like acute care at home, which allows people to stay in their home more and have the support they need there. We need to do a lot more of that. We also need to invest in primary care and our GPs, and I clearly set out how we will do that. We are going to have a named health visitor, social worker and district nurse working with every GP practice. That will change the whole picture of primary care.”