Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland should be universal and free at the point of use. This is essential in order to secure a fair and equal society; but it is also important for our economy that people are as healthy and active as possible. Some key values underline Alliance's approach to the health service. Respect for individuals and their dignity is essential, so services should be patient-centred and flexible enough to meet everyone's demands.
Our proposals to improve the health service in Northern Ireland include:
- Targeting resources at public health issues to make sure people are fitter and healthier to begin with. Addressing issues which stop physical illness from arising in the first place; such as obesity, smoking and alcohol abuse will be a priority.
- Ensuring that mental health and well-being is at the heart of the health service, adequately funded, with anti-stigma campaigns, a Mental Health and Capacity Bill and further investment in psychological therapy.
- Focussing on patient need, rather than artificial targets, to ensure that healthcare, such as Emergency Departments, are provided to the people who need it the most.
- Placing the individual at the heart of social care by giving users control over their health and social care needs, and by exploring options for free social care. This will be especially important as society becomes older.
The current financial climate is makes running the Health and Social Care sector in NI is extremely difficult. We need to improve services whilst also saving money. Many Alliance proposals will improve the quality of healthcare but also save money which can be re-invested elsewhere. For example:
- Supporting people receiving care to live in their own homes and communities for as long as possible, which improves quality of life and saves money.
- Prioritising public health issues will save money in the long-run by reducing people's need for health services.
- Placing a stronger emphasis on screening, prevention and early intervention.
- Using innovative technologies to manage the service more effectively.