Policy Forum for Northern Ireland

Conferences that are scheduled to take place before September will be conducted online.
The format will mirror physical conferences organised by the Forum with speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish.
The conferences will be chaired and there will be opportunities for delegate questions and comments.
We will be contacting all participants in advance of each conference with full information and guidance on how to take part.
There will be some exceptions where conferences will be postponed, for instance those that would largely involve key stakeholders in the NHS or emergency services.
All participants affected by this will be informed as soon as possible.
If you’d like to speak to us over the phone about any booking-related queries, please call one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7951044809 / +044 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7538736244

The future for health and social care services in NI - improving service delivery, the impact of COVID-19, value for money, and implementing the Bengoa reforms

Morning, Wednesday, 7th October 2020

Online Conference


***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference will provide an opportunity to discuss the future of health and social care services in Northern Ireland.

A key focus for the discussion will certainly be the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the long term future of health and social care in Northern Ireland, as well as:

  • lessons for best practice and innovation that can be taken forward from experience of the unprecedented challenges that have been faced, and
  • the extra support that may be required going forward for health services and their workforces, their partner organisations, and the populations that they serve.

However the conference - prepared initially before the full onset of the coronavirus crisis - will also bring out latest thinking on key longstanding issues for healthcare in Northern Ireland, including:

  • funding,
  • the future of the workforce,
  • urgent and emergency care,
  • healthcare integration, and
  • quality of healthcare and social services.

The agenda:

  • Transforming health and social care services in NI - key policy priorities;
  • Tackling immediate issues in Health and Social Care in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic - service delivery and workforce priorities:
    • The state of health and social care - challenges in implementation;
    • Reducing waiting times and delivering better outcomes;
    • Priorities for staff recruitment and retention.
    • Delivering value for money in health and social care services;
  • Large scale change at the policy level - learning from others;
  • eHealth post 2020 and following the pandemic - expanding and investing in infrastructure and maximising innovative technologies in the delivery of health and social care; and
  • Driving towards new models of care - accountable care systems, integration and community care.

Developments that are relevant to the discussion:

It takes place with:

The discussion in detail:

  • Levels of available funding for the health and social care system, ensuring value for money, and assessing the priorities for investment;
  • Addressing workforce concerns and improving recruitment and retention;
  • The review of urgent and emergency care by the Department for Health, and next steps for development of a waiting times action plan;
  • Implementing the Bengoa report’s recommendations for greater healthcare integration - introduction of Accountable Care Systems and an increased role for community care:
    • The future role of technology and eHealth and how it can help modernise the health system and supporting new models of care;
    • Enhancing the support for GPs through the continued development of multidisciplinary primary care teams and integrating with social and acute services; and
    • Building capacity in community health services to take a bigger role in health and social care and reduce inequalities while promoting effective collaboration between different public, private, and third sector bodies.
  • Delivering high quality health and social care services, and priorities for regulation in raising standards and supporting reform.

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. We expect this to be no different.

Overall, we expect speakers and attendees to be a senior and informed group including Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly and senior officials from the Northern Ireland Executive, regulators and other agencies, representatives of health and social care sector, private and third-sector health and social care providers, advocacy and patient groups, charities, academics and commentators, together with reporters from the national and trade media based in Northern Ireland and elsewhere.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speakers

Robin Swann MLA

Minister for Health

Pat Cullen

Director, RCN Northern Ireland

Professor Deirdre Heenan

Professor of Social Sciences and Director, Health & Wellbeing Research Centre, Ulster University

Professor Rafael Bengoa

Chair, Expert Panel, ‘Systems, Not Structures: Changing Health and Social Care’ Report and Director, Institute for Health and Strategy, Bilbao


Paula Bradshaw MLA

Member, Committee for Health, Northern Ireland Assembly


Kieran Donnelly

Comptroller and Auditor General, Northern Ireland Audit Office

David Babington

Chief Executive, Action Mental Health

Gerard Greene

Chief Executive, Community Pharmacy Northern Ireland