Page last updated at 18:08 GMT, Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Health Committee

Health minister Edwin Poots told MLAs he was setting up a programme board to consider the implementation of the findings of the Compton Report on health and social care, on 1 February 2012.

Mr Poots said the work would begin within the next few days and the board would be chaired by the permanent secretary of the department of health, Andrew McCormick.

John Compton, who chaired the review of health and social care, told the health committee he sensed that people accepted the need for change.

This view was echoed by the minister who observed that the report did not identify individual hospitals for closure, and that such matters could be worked through with local communities in the interests of those communities.

Earlier, the committee heard from the British Medical Association (BMA) and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) with their views of the Compton proposals.

Professor Scott Brown of the RCGP said his members welcomed the general thrust of the report and were keen to become involved in its application.

Tom Black of the BMA said GP quality and access were the best in the world in Northern Ireland but care was required not to take patients out of hospitals and destabilise general practice.

Kieran McCarthy of the Alliance party said he thought a lot of people had problems accessing their GP.

Tom Black quoted US research which suggested that Northern Ireland had the best "same-day access and next-day access" in the world.

Jim Wells of the DUP asked Professor Brown whether he thought there could be a satisfactory level of service if the number of acute hospitals were reduced to seven.

Professor Brown said he and his colleagues "would have a lot of things to say" if it was proposed to close his local hospital in Coleraine.

The professor told members about experts from other countries who had visited Northern Ireland to learn from the success of the system.

"It would be an absolute shame if what we do well was destroyed, or made more difficult, because of an ill-conceived and poorly worked-through programme leading on from the report," he added.

Health committee membership

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