Policy Forum for Northern Ireland

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7951044809 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7538736244.
For delegates already booked on, we will send you the online joining instructions (including links, event numbers and passwords) five working days before your conference. If you cannot find these in your inbox please email delegate.relations@forumsupport.co.uk

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 focuses on the future of health and social care services in Northern Ireland.

Prepared initially before the full onset of the coronavirus crisis, it will 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.

However we expect a key focus for discussion on the day to be the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the long term future of health and social care in Northern Ireland.

It comes with the Department of Health publishing its strategic framework for Rebuilding Health and Social Care Services, which sets out priorities following the impact of COVID-19, alongside the release of a new proximity app - StopCOVID NI - to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Discussion related to the pandemic:

  • service recovery - the scaling up of services to previous capacity and support that will be needed for local trusts during the process and into the future
  • what can be learned - best practice and innovation that can be taken forward from experience of the unprecedented challenges that have been faced
  • improving safety within communities - priorities for test and trace and other measures, with Northern Ireland producing an independent tracing application
  • support - what more may be required going forward for health services and their workforces, their partner organisations, and the populations that they serve

The wider discussion:

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

Developments that are relevant to the discussion:

  • political leadership - re-establishment of the Northern Ireland Assembly and commitment to tackle health issues laid out in the New Decade, New Approach document and the COVID-19 pandemic
  • waiting times - with Northern Ireland’s hospitals having the highest level in the UK prior to the pandemic
  • staff recruitment and retention - with around 7,000 vacancies in health and social care boards across Northern Ireland prior to the pandemic
  • financial performance and value for money - with remarks by the Minister - Health budget for 2020/21 will be crucial - Swann - on funding pressures faced by the sector affecting health and social care service delivery
  • mental health - with:
    • recent publication of the Mental Health Action Plan for NI which commits to producing a mental health strategy
    • the announcement that the Department of Health will begin the process of appointing a Mental Health Champion for Northern Ireland
  • key policy reports - progress and next steps for implementation of:
    • Systems, Not Structures - Changing Health and Social Care, chaired by Professor Rafael Bengoa
    • Health and Wellbeing 2026: Delivering Together - the 10-year strategy for reforming Health and Social Care (HSC) services in N Ireland
    • Power to People: proposals to reboot adult care and support in NI

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 COVID-19 - service delivery and workforce priorities:
    • The state of health and social care - key challenges and opportunities
    • Reducing waiting times and delivering better outcomes
    • Priorities for 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
  • Priorities for developing the healthcare system to better support mental health needs
  • Driving towards new models of care - accountable care systems, integration and community care

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders.

This conference is no different. Places have been reserved by a range of officials from the Department of Health; the Department of Finance; the Office of Social Services;  andthe Department of Health and Social Care.

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

Professor James McLaughlin

Head, School of Engineering, Ulster University

Keynote Speakers

Senior speaker confirmed from HSCB Planning and Commissioning

Robin Swann MLA

Minister for Health

Professor James McLaughlin

Head, School of Engineering, Ulster University

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


Colm Gildernew MLA

Chair, Committee for Health, Northern Ireland Assembly

Paula Bradshaw MLA

Member, Committee for Health, Northern Ireland Assembly


Patricia Higgins

Interim Chief Executive, Northern Ireland Social Care Council

Dr Alan Stout

Chair, Northern Ireland General Practitioners Committee

Professor Gerry Lynch

Former Chair, Royal College of Psychiatrists Northern Ireland and Visiting Professor, Ulster Univesrity

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