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Bengoa Report: Executive Support

Oral Answers to Questions — The Executive Office – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:30 pm on 7th November 2016.

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Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin 2:30 pm, 7th November 2016

T3. Mr Maskey asked the First Minister and deputy First Minister how the Executive might be able to support the implementation of the Bengoa report. (AQT 418/16-21)

Photo of Arlene Foster Arlene Foster DUP

The very important issue on the Bengoa report is the fact that this is not just for the Department of Health; we believe that it is a matter for the entire Executive to take forward. We are very aware that, if we do not try to manage the health service, there will be a breakdown in the next 10 years, and that is what, I think, Professor Bengoa referred to as the "burning platform".

Unless we intervene and do something, the health service will require most of our block grant. Apart from that, we need to be able to deliver a better, sustainable service to our patients as well. We as an Executive believe that the way to do that is to follow through on the Bengoa report. It will take some time — two mandates of this place. In fact, this is the first time that we as an Executive or, indeed, any Executive before us, as I understand it, have taken such an approach over two mandates. We believe that it is that important to set the trajectory and where we are going over the next 10 years, and I wholeheartedly support it.

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin

I thank the First Minister for that fairly comprehensive answer. Notwithstanding the very complex nature of all this and the very significant challenges in the time ahead, is she confident that the report and its conclusions can be fully implemented in due course?

Photo of Arlene Foster Arlene Foster DUP

I am confident because, as I understand it, the clinicians are absolutely ready for change and want change to happen. It is they who come to us in our constituency offices and say that change needs to occur. It fits in very well, I have to say, with the way in which we are progressing with our Programme for Government as well: it is about outcomes. What outcomes do we want for the health service over the next 10 years and, indeed, beyond? When we get to the end of the 10 years, we hope that we will have a health service that is more efficient and, importantly, more effective for the citizens who live here. We are very much signed up to the Bengoa report and the implementation plan. I hope that the whole House will get behind what is very critical infrastructure for us moving forward.