Welcoming delegates to the annual conference of the Northern Ireland Confederation for Health and Social Care (NICON), the organisation’s Chair, Michael Bloomfield, said:
“The context in which we are holding our annual conference this year is perhaps the most difficult to date. We can be in no doubt that the absence of political leadership to take challenging, but necessary, decisions is damaging services and harming patients and those reliant on social care. The prolonged political deadlock would not be tolerated anywhere else across these islands; it is right that we, as Health and Social Care leaders, speak out and call on politicians of every hue to find a creative way to provide political direction today.
[We] need strong political decision-making and a multi-year budget to continue this vital progress, to avoid further collapse of services and to deliver the improvements that our local population need and deserve.
As Health and Care Social leaders, we already know the changes that need to be made. We are making progress on many of these fronts by refocusing on prevention, investing in the HSC workforce, introducing new technologies and working with colleagues and service users to drive improvement. We will hear much about this during the conference. But we also need strong political decision-making and a multi-year budget to continue this vital progress, to avoid further collapse of services and to deliver the improvements that our local population need and deserve.
Current reports indicate that we are facing a financial shortfall in the region of £550m this year, with no agreed pay deal for our dedicated and hard-pressed staff; no way to make decisions on the significant changes that are required; nor do we have the necessary investment to implement key strategies. This is entirely unacceptable and should not be allowed to continue.
I pay tribute to, and sincerely thank, the thousands of professional and dedicated staff who continue to provide the best possible care that they can in such difficult circumstances. Without them, the situation would be infinitely worse. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude.”
[We have] no agreed pay deal for our dedicated and hard-pressed staff; no way to make decisions on the significant changes that are required; nor do we have the necessary investment to implement key strategies. This is entirely unacceptable and should not be allowed to continue.
Also speaking at the conference, Danny Mortimer, Deputy Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation, said that while national health and care systems in Europe and beyond are facing many of the same challenges, it is sobering to hear first-hand the situation that health and care leaders and the public are facing in Northern Ireland.
“We in the NHS Confederation are committed to providing support where we can, and we will be raising these issues in London on behalf of our colleagues here in Northern Ireland. We know creative political solutions are possible. Given the lack of progress to date and the very real impacts of the current deadlock for the people of Northern Ireland, I support colleagues in calling for fresh thinking if imminent restoration of the Executive and Assembly is not on the cards. Further prolonged deadlock is unconscionable.”
In closing, Jonathan Patton, Vice Chair of NICON and Chair of the South Eastern HSC Trust said:
“Conference provides a unique opportunity to showcase the significant ongoing work across the system and build energy and clarity around the change agenda. One exciting example is the first 'go live' next month of encompass, an electronic patient record which will revolutionise how care is delivered. I never cease to be amazed and impressed by the advances our staff and partners are making, but we now need to make a step change in pace and scale beyond what we have understood in the past. We cannot carry on with business as usual.”
- NICON’s annual conference, taking place on 18-19 October 2023, brings together health and social care leaders from the statutory, community/voluntary and private sectors, as well as clinicians, service users, patients and carers.
- The theme, ‘Possibility out of Pressure’, is embedded in more than 45 transformation-focused sessions over two days, during which attendees will share new ideas and emerging practice right across the panoply of health and social care services. This year, a particular focus has been placed on the role of innovation in ensuring that HSCNI is fit for the future.
We are the membership organisation that brings together, supports and speaks for the whole healthcare system in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The members we represent employ 1.5 million staff, care for more than 1 million patients a day and control £150 billion of public expenditure. We promote collaboration and partnership working as the key to improving population health, delivering high-quality care and reducing health inequalities.