Edwin Poots: Health service changes difficult but necessary

A former Northern Ireland health minister has warned the “structural changes” necessary to resolve the crisis in the health service are unlikely to prove popular.

DUP MLA Edwin Poots was speaking after the civil servant at the head of the Department of Health at Stormont, Richard Pengelly, warned that the health service in Northern Ireland is “heading over the cliff” without radical change.

Mr Poots said the necessary changes will prove “difficult for people”.

Speaking to the News Letter, the former health minister said: “A lot of people don’t accept that structural change is necessary, but it is necessary. There are also people who believe this is a wonderful idea until it is a unit near them that is closing.

“Ultimately, there is a limited pot of money and if you don’t rationalise these things, we will end up losing more.

“It is going to be difficult for people, but it is necessary.”

Mark Taylor, Northern Ireland director of the Royal College of Surgeons and a member of the panel that produced the ‘Systems not Structures’ report in 2016 that set out ways to transform the health service, said it is time for a “grown up conversation” about the future of healthcare.

“The Bengoa report found that, without change, the level of funding required for health would eventually require the entire bloc grant.”

The report found that the costs of health – at that time 46% of the total Stormont budget – would double by 2026/27 without change.

Mr Taylor added: “The stark options are either to resist change and see services deteriorate to the point of collapse or to embrance transformation and work to create a sustainable model.”

In August, the News Letter revealed that there are thousands more patients on hospital waiting lists in Northern Ireland than in the entirety of NHS England, despite the vast population difference between the two UK regions.

Mr Taylor said: “Waiting times in Northern Ireland are not acceptable but they are simply a manifestation of a failing system.”

Asked how the waiting lists could be improved by a transformed health service, the consultant general and hepatobiliary surgeon suggested the “scaling up” of elective care centres for non-emergency surgery, a change in the ‘profile’ of certain hospitals, and the use of “other specialists” for certain procedures such as vasectomies being performed by general practitioners.

Meanwhile, the UUP health spokesperson Roy Beggs said the “abhorrent absence” of a health minister has “greatly compounded the situation”.


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Delays in treatment for new Northern Ireland cancer patients on the rise



'Ministerial targets state that 95% of patients urgently referred for suspected cancer should start their treatment within 62 days' (stock photo)
'Ministerial targets state that 95% of patients urgently referred for suspected cancer should start their treatment within 62 days' (stock photo)

‘Ministerial targets state that 95% of patients urgently referred for suspected cancer should start their treatment within 62 days’ (stock photo)

Adrian Rutherford

More patients are waiting longer than they should to start urgent cancer treatment in Northern Ireland.

Just over 55% of those diagnosed (180 out of 325 cases) had their first treatment within 62 days between April and June this year following an urgent referral.

This was a drop of around 15% from the same period last year (70.8%), official figures show.

Ministerial targets state that 95% of patients urgently referred for suspected cancer should start their treatment within 62 days.

This target, set in 2009, has never been met by any health trust in Northern Ireland.

Ulster Unionist MLA Roy Beggs said: “Once again these figures confirm that the situation in our health service is still getting worse.

“We have by far the worst waiting times in the UK and there is no longer any doubt that delays in treatments are seeing local patients come to real physical and emotional harm.

“Every time the cancer figures are released there is a collective sigh of disbelief right across Northern Ireland, but even that now quickly fades, for as a society we have come to expect nothing else. It’s an appalling and deeply tragic situation.”

The figures emerged yesterday as part of the quarterly release of cancer waiting times in Northern Ireland, published by the Department of Health.

Figures show ministerial targets were also missed on assessments for suspected breast cancer.

Between April and June this year, 809 patients commenced their first treatment for cancer following a decision to treat being taken. Of these, 93.3% (755) started treatment within the target 31 days, compared with to 95.4% (806 of 845 cases) a year earlier.

Some 80% of 1,303 patients were seen by a breast cancer specialist within the target 14 days for a first assessment following an urgent referral. This compares to 94.1% of patients a year earlier.

In June this year, 80% of patients were seen within 14 days – amounting to 1,042 out of 1,303 patients.

This is a drop of 14.1% from the same period last year.

Dervilia Kernaghan, head of care services at Cancer Focus NI, said: “While it is encouraging that some patients are seen quickly, these latest figures clearly show that some ministerial targets are still not being met.

“We know that with our ageing population and the increased incidence of cancer, there is consistent pressure on our health services which is likely to continue.

“We acknowledge how stretched the health service is and we have consistently called for investment in our cancer services.”

She backed the Department of Health’s new cancer strategy, due for publication next year.

“Cancer Focus NI’s vision is for a new comprehensive and well-resourced approach to address these issues faced by cancer patients in a systemic, robust and sustained manner,” she said.

Margaret Carr of Cancer Research UK said: “It’s now become the norm in Northern Ireland for patients to wait too long for the tests they need.”

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “The latest cancer waiting figures underline once again the need to reshape services.

“The department is committed to taking forward key initiatives including the development of a new cancer strategy for Northern Ireland.

“The responses to our public consultation on reshaping breast assessment services are being carefully studied ahead of decisions on next steps.

“Addressing waiting times across health and social care will require transformation of services and sustained investment.”

The number of new cancer patients who had their first treatment within 62 days from April-June 2019

Belfast Telegraph


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NI paper review: Wrightbus near miss and border poll Brexit warning

Wrightbus

Image copyright
PAcemaker

Image caption

The Belfast Telegraph reports a dispute over rent scuppered a potential deal to save Wrightbus

A mix of stories make the front of Friday’s papers after a week dominated by Wrightbus and Brexit.

The lead in the Belfast Telegraph follows on from the collapse of the Ballymena bus builder and the near miss to secure a deal to save the company.

It reports negotiations with a Chinese company, believed to be Weichai, came close to completion – but were scuppered by annual rent of around £1m.

It says a separate company owned by the Wright family owns the site, and would have received the rent.

Wrightbus collapsed on Wednesday, resulting in about 1,200 employees being made redundant.

‘Nothing out of the ordinary’

Inside, the paper has a heart-warming story about a supermarket worker who went above and beyond the call of duty.

David Vance, a customer service assistant at Lidl in east Belfast, stepped in after a pensioner had his card declined and paid for the man’s shopping.

The incident was witnessed by Karen Gibney, who shared it on her Facebook page, resulting in the act of kindness going viral.

Mr Vance told the paper he enjoys working with customers, “especially when they might need a little help”.

“I didn’t think I did anything out of the ordinary,” he said.

“I just noticed one of our regular customers needed a hand.”

‘Get this right’

Friday’s Irish News focuses on comments made by Lord Jonathan Caine, a Conservative party peer and his party’s longest-serving special adviser on Northern Ireland.

“As someone who believes in the union, I was primarily concerned about the impact this [Brexit] would have on nationalism and ultimately therefore on political stability in Northern Ireland and across the island of Ireland,” said Lord Caine.

Image copyright
House of Lords

Image caption

Lord Caine, who is from Leeds, started working for the Northern Ireland Office in the 1990s

He said he believed a referendum on Irish unity, if held in the near future, would fail – but that this could change with a hard border.

“The onus is on the UK government and the EU to get this right,” he said.

‘Immense courage’

The front page of Friday’s News Letter leads with the headline “Police welcome jail for paedophile ex-officer”.

Raymond Keith Lindsay, a former senior PSNI officer, was convicted after propositioning a young girl in a caravan park.

The 61-year-old, of Moygashel Park, Moygashel, admitted offences that took place at Castlewellan Forest Park in July 2018.

PSNI Det Con Micky Meehan said the girl’s family should be commended for seeing the case through the criminal justice process.

“Throughout this difficult time they have displayed immense courage and fortitude.”

‘Deeply tragic’

Inside Friday’s Daily Mirror, there is a story about the wait being faced by cancer patients receiving urgent referrals.

It states that almost half of cancer patients referred urgently by their GPs wait at least 62 days for treatment, according to the latest figures.

“It’s an appalling and deeply tragic situation,” said Ulster Unionist MLA Roy Beggs, his party’s health spokesman.

He added every time cancer figures are released there is a “collective sigh of disbelief right across Northern Ireland”.


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Campaign on paramilitary activity ‘a bit tame’ – MLA

An awareness campaign aimed at tackling paramilitarism in Northern Ireland is too tame and shies away from the violent crimes of the gunmen, an MLA has claimed.

Roy Beggs raised concerns that the End the Harm ad drive would not have the desired impact.

He was one of a number of Assembly members on the Justice Committee that questioned Department of Justice officials on the Executive’s efforts to stamp out paramilitaries and organised crime gangs.

The new £530,000 advertising campaign was launched by Justice Minister Claire Sugden earlier this week.

A TV and cinema advert highlights the dangers of buying counterfeit goods by showing how money spent on fake items lines the pockets of organised criminals.

Ulster Unionist Mr Beggs said it did not address the violent acts committed by paramilitaries. He compared the ad to hard-hitting road safety adverts in Northern Ireland.

“I have to say I thought the video was a bit tame,” he said.

“Certainly in terms of the issues that I come across it didn’t strike me that it would get traction where we want it to get traction, that would be one of my concerns.”

“I am just thinking about the road safety campaign – it was more hard-hitting and certainly did have an impact.

“The things that I have been aware of in recent times have been intimidation, shootings, shootings in households, through windows, I was talking to a fellow who was beaten with a baseball bat with nails through it.

“This is what paramilitarism is. And if that can be connected to the cheap goods that helps fund it all, I think that would be much better.”

DoJ official Anthony Harbinson acknowledged Mr Beggs’ point. However, he said the campaign was designed to highlight the areas of criminality that paramilitaries were less renowned for.

“I can understand exactly what you are saying but what we are trying to do and the purpose behind this – and remember this (campaign) is going to go on for a number of years – is actually raise awareness of the things that people don’t associate with paramilitarism,” he said.

“Punishment beatings – if that’s the right term – everyone associates with paramilitarism.

“People getting shot in their houses, people in balaclavas, people in dark alleys with guns – everyone associates that with paramilitarism.

“What they don’t associate with paramilitarism is going out and buying a fake DVD or a shirt.

“What we are trying to say to people is ‘it’s more than the obvious’. Now you may feel it’s a bit subtle but actually what we were trying to do was say to people ‘paramilitarism is more pervasive than you actually believe, it’s more involved in crime and organised crime and by buying these counterfeit goods you are funding these paramilitaries’.

“The vast majority of people I don’t believe would like to think they fund paramilitaries in Northern Ireland, but by doing this they actually are.”

Mr Harbinson said there would be more hard-hitting ads produced in future stages of the campaign.


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Articles may come from parliamentary reports, various public news feeds and Google News Search. Content is republished here for context. Copyright is respected and remains with the original author at all times. Original Article:http://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/campaign-on-paramilitary-activity-a-bit-tame-mla-1-7723744

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Woman dies in hospital after early morning collision

Sympathy has been expressed after a woman lost her life in a single vehicle road traffic collision this morning in north Antrim.

Police have confirmed that the woman died from injuries she sustained in a collision on the Moycraig Road in Ballymoney.

McAuley Multimedia 14th March 2019...The scene at the Moycraig Road Mosside in North Antrim where there has been what appears to be a single vechicle RTC.

McAuley Multimedia 14th March 2019…The scene at the Moycraig Road Mosside in North Antrim where there has been what appears to be a single vechicle RTC.

A PSNI spokesman said the collision happened just before 8.25am between Mosside and Dervock.

The spokesman added that woman, the only occupant of a Black Vauxhall Corsa, had been taken to hospital for treatment, but passed away.

Inspector O’Brien would appeal to anyone who was travelling on the Moycraig Road this morning and who witnessed the collision or saw the black Vauxhall Corsa involved prior to the collision to contact local officers in Coleraine or the Collision Investigation Unit on 101 quoting reference 192 of 14/03/19.

It is understood the road remains closed as police investigators carry out an examination of the scene.

Local UUP Councillor for Causeway Couast and Glens Borough Council, Darryl Wilson, said: “Unfortunately the road traffic collision in the Dervock/Mosside area this morning has resulted in a fatality.

“Can I offer my heartfelt sympathies to the family of the lady who has tragically lost her life.”


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Articles may come from parliamentary reports, various public news feeds and Google News Search. Content is republished here for context. Copyright is respected and remains with the original author at all times. Original Article:https://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/latest-news/woman-dies-in-hospital-after-early-morning-collision-1-8849314

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