Page last updated at 12:04 GMT, Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Promoting innovation in health

The Health Minister said medical researchers in Northern Ireland would have access to an annual funding pot of £75m as a result of the Executive contributing to the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), on 4 December 2012.

Edwin Poots was making a statement on promoting innovation in health and social care.

The minister outlined developments in telemonitoring since its launch in November 2012.

The scheme allows people with long-term medical conditions to have their health monitored from the comfort of their own homes.

Among the reasons for encouraging developments in eHealth was the maximising of economic development opportunities, he explained.

"A new strategy for health and social care research and development is under development at present," the minister said.

Mr Poots also outlined the introduction of the electronic patient care record.

In reply to a question from the DUP's Gordon Dunne concerning the decision to begin making contributions to the NIHR, the minister said the local universities were confident they were well-placed to get considerably more out of the institute than the Executive paid in.

Dolores Kelly of the SDLP was concerned that telemonitoring depended on high-quality broadband and this was not available in all parts of Northern Ireland.

The minister said he was aware of pockets of poor broadband coverage, but he added that the general provision of broadband was the envy of other countries.

Kieran McCarthy of Alliance reminded the minister that representatives of the Health Committee were currently in Cuba investigating the health system there. He wanted assurance that the minister would take their report into account in devising health policy.

Mr Poots said "huge amounts of money" were being pumped into Cuba by the Venezuelan government of Hugo Chavez to fund the health service there.

The minister said the result was that the people of Venezuela were not benefiting as a result.

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