Primary care pressures will be tackled head-on within the next 12 months – that’s the main message issued by the Health Minister Michelle O’Neill today.

O’Neill has released her 10-year vision ‘Health and Wellbeing 2026: Delivering Together’ in response to the expert panel’s recommendations, outlining her modes of action and timeframes – yet omitting any reference to specific budgets.

While an approach for effectively addressing waiting lists is to be implemented in January, the multidisciplinary investment is to be allocated a couple of months later. This will be by way of:

  • 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 (which you can read more about in the latest edition of Northern Ireland Healthcare Review)
  • Bringing forward a public consultation on the role of the GP federation and whether they should become HSC bodies


Other highlights addressed in the vision include:


  • Rolling out access to the electronic care record (NIECR) to community pharmacists (October 2017)
  • Beginning the development of a new framework to fully realise the potential of community pharmacy services to support better health outcomes from medicines and prevent illness (November 2016)


  • Moving forward with the implementation of the new diabetes strategy framework (November 2016)


  • Launching and implementing paediatric strategies designed to modernise and improve the standard of treatment and care (November 2016)
  • Bringing forward proposals relating to the extension of placement options for Looked After Children (October 2017)

Stroke Services

  • Launching a public consultation of proposals to develop sustainable stroke services and improving the standard of treatment and care (February 2017)


  • Developing a patient portal for dementia patients (October 2017)

Elective Care Centres

  • Bringing forward proposals for the location and service specification for elective care centres and assessment and treatment centres (October 2017)


  • Identifying current innovative HSC projects at the local level and scaling them up across the region (April 2017)


  • Developing a workforce strategy covering all aspects of the HSC workforce (May 2017)
  • Designing a new user feedback platform open to all those who both use and deliver the services (October 2017)
  • Completing the initial design work for the Improvement Institute (February 2017)
  • Developing a HSC-wide leadership strategy (May 2017)

Speaking about the strategy which must be undertaken to move forward with the service reconfiguration, O’Neill asserted that they will ‘do this in partnership with the people who use the service and those who work in it.

Read more about the content of the expert panel’s report here.