We are pleased to launch two new podcasts exploring challenges in health and social care in Northern Ireland. These podcasts are a partnership between Ulster University and Pivotal, the public policy think tank for Northern Ireland.
These new podcasts feature eight leading academics from Ulster University discussing the challenges and opportunities for healthcare, including the impact of Covid-19. The topics covered range from the need for reform in healthcare delivery to physical activity and nutrition, and from the use of technology in healthcare to the future of social care. Each podcast ends with the speakers giving their headline summary message for Northern Ireland’s political leaders.
The discussions provide some common public policy themes in health and social care:
Limited funding meets ever-increasing demand – in Northern Ireland as elsewhere, increasing life expectancies plus improved healthcare mean that spend on health and social care continues to increase. Finding ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of existing health and social care spending is essential.
Reform of healthcare delivery is urgently needed – in recent years there have been seven independent reviews of health and social care in Northern Ireland. Despite widespread acceptance of the recommendations for reform, there has been little progress in implementation. There is an urgent need for political leaders to collectively address these difficult decisions about future provision and agree how change will be delivered.
Technology provides important opportunities to deliver healthcare with greater efficiency – we need to embrace new technologies which can help diagnose and manage health conditions more effectively and efficiently.
Leadership is needed to front up to the challenges and seize the opportunities – in both politics and healthcare, leaders need to make the tough decisions about future healthcare delivery, making changes to current provision where that is needed to put services on track for the future.
A comprehensive review of social care in Northern Ireland is needed – Covid-19 has shone a light on the care sector, which was already under severe pressure prior to the pandemic. With demand for care only going to increase, there needs to be a realistic and practical discussion about future funding and delivery of social care provision. Again, tough choices will be needed.
We need more public debate about the funding challenges and need for reform in health and social care – these issues affect every one of us, and either now or in the future they will impact on each of our lives and the lives of those close to us. We need more informed and realistic public debate involving everyone in Northern Ireland about the extent of the current challenges in health and social care, so that we all have a better understanding of the challenges and choices, and so that the public have a change to influence decisions about the future.
The podcasts are hosted by Ann Watt, Director of Pivotal, the independent public policy think tank for Northern Ireland.
Our thanks to the Ulster University staff who shared their expertise and ideas in these podcasts.