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Thursday, 5 December, 2002, 08:02 GMT
Minister's pledge over health
The Northern Ireland health minister has promised to make a decision on the future of acute hospitals by the end of January.

Des Browne made the pledge at Hillsborough on Wednesday as he addressed an audience of key health service personnel - including chief executives and chairmen of trusts and boards.

The minister detailed plans to modernise Northern Ireland's health service.

He said making a decision on which hospitals should keep life saving services would be part of that.

Des Browne: Detailed plans to modernise NI's health service

Mr Browne said his top priority was to bring forward the modernisation needed to prepare the health service for the next 20 years.

"We cannot continue with the practices of the past. We must bring them up to date," he said.

"This will be better for everyone, better service to the public, better working conditions for staff and better value for money for the taxpayer."

Mr Browne also said he was determined to take whatever decisions were needed to reorganise acute hospital services in the province following the completion of a consultation process.

"There are some important issues to be resolved and I hope to be able to take decisions by the end of January.

He said: "If decisions have to be made, I will make them."

Waiting lists in the province are the longest in the UK, however Mr Browne said he was determined to continue to "bear down on the problem".

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Des Browne, Health Minister:
"I'm obliged to meet the timescale of my predecessor"
BBC NI's health correspondent Dot Kirby:
"Caretaker ministers are making it clear they are in decision-making mode"
See also:

11 Jun 02 | N Ireland
20 Jun 01 | N Ireland
20 Jun 01 | N Ireland
31 Jul 00 | N Ireland
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