Northern Ireland

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Minister's vision 2026

Michelle O’Neill
Northern Ireland health minister

In October 2016 two reports were published by the Department of Health (NI), outlining recommendations and proposals to reconfigure health and social care in the country. 'Systems, Not Structures: Changing health and social care' is the report of the Bengoa Expert Panel, while 'Health and Wellbeing 2026: Delivering together' is reform proposals from Health Minister Michelle O'Neill. The Minister used the Bengoa report as the basis for her own vision and published both reports together.


Latest News

On 7 February the minister published her plan to address waiting lists, the Elective Care Plan outlines a number of proposals for primary and secondary care. The minister has also said she needs and additional £31million to address the problem.

The minister has published a consultation on criteria for reconfiguring health and social care services. The response deadline for this has now been extended to February 3 2017.

Read the consultation

Consultation responses and comments from BMA Northern Ireland

Moderning pathology - final consultation response

Download the background paper on the proposals put forward by the health minister

BMA comment on Health and Wellbeing 2026 - response from Chair of NI Council John D. Woods

BMA NI response to reconfiguration criteria January 2017

BMA Q and A: 'Right care, right time, right place' - Chair of NI Council John D. Woods' view of the minister's plans



A comprehensive timeline was issued alongside the minister's vision.


January 2017

Develop a comprehensive approach for addressing waiting lists which takes account of the ongoing work of the Health and Social Care Board, as well as the recommendations from the Expert Panel.

March 2017

To improve access and resilience, and support the development of new models of care, make significant investment in primary care to ensure there is a multidisciplinary team focussed on the patient and with the right mix of skills. This will be supported by:

  • Increased GP training places
  • Continued investment in Practice Based Pharmacists
  • Ensuring every GP practice has a named District Nurse, Health Visitor and Social Worker to work with
  • Supporting the development of new roles such as Physician Associates and Advanced Nurse Practitioners
  • Further roll-out of the AskMyGP system. Bring forward a public consultation on the role of GP Federation and whether they should become HSC bodies.

October 2017

Bring forward proposals relating to the extension of placement options for Looked After Children.

Following the completion and evaluation of a pilot project, roll-out access to the electronic care record (NIECR) to community pharmacists and establish a pilot to test access to the record for independent optometrists.

November 2016

Begin development of a new framework to fully realise the potential of community pharmacy services to support better health outcomes from medicines and prevent illness.


Reconfiguration and service change

November 2016

Embark on a consultation on the criteria set out in the Expert Panel Report and start a programme of service configuration reviews. These will be clinically led, working in partnership with those that use the services.

As part of this process, my immediate priorities are:

  • Following extensive review and engagement, launch a public consultation on proposals to modernise and transform Pathology services designed to improve service and workforce sustainability ensuring a high quality pathology service for the future (November 2016)
  • Move forward with the implementation of the new Diabetes Strategic Framework, which has been, and will continue to be, developed through partnership with patients and their representative groups (November 2016)
  • Launch and commence implementation of the Paediatric Strategies (2016-2026) designed to modernise and further improve the standard of treatment and care provided in hospital and community settings, and palliative and end of life care for children and their families (November 2016)
  • Launch a public consultation on proposals to develop sustainable Stroke services and further improve the standard of treatment and care provided to stroke patients (February 2017)
  • Following a recent review, launch a public consultation on the configuration of Imaging services, taking account of advances in technology, demographics and demands, and looking to both national and international best practice (February 2017).

October 2017

Bring forward proposals for the location and service specification for Elective Care Centres, and Assessment and Treatment Centres.

March 2017

Develop design for new structures and approaches to support the reform of planning and administration of the HSC.

April 2017

Identify current innovative HSC projects at the local level and develop a rolling programme and implementation plan to scale up these projects across the region.



November 2016

Embark on a period of engagement with staff and service users to build a collective view of how our health and social care services should be configured in the future, and encourage a much wider public debate.

Establish and seek members for a transformation oversight structure with membership drawn from within and outwith the HSC.

April 2017

Consult on proposals for the reform of adult social care and support, to consider different approaches to ensuring the long-term sustainability of the adult social care system.

October 2017

Consult on proposals for, and complete design of a new user feedback platform open to all those who both use and deliver our services.

February 2017

Complete the initial design work for the Improvement Institute.

May 2017

Develop a Workforce Strategy covering all aspects of the HSC workforce, including retention and recruitment; opportunities for introducing new job roles; and upskilling initiatives.

Develop a HSC-wide Leadership Strategy, to consider a 5 year approach and plan for development of collective leadership behaviours across our system.

October 2017

Expand the range of information and interaction available to citizens online and development of a patient portal for dementia patients.