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Responding to the publication of the Department of Health’s Strategic Framework for rebuilding health and social care services in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, DUP South Antrim MLA and Health Committee Vice-Chair Pam Cameron commented:

‘‘We welcome the release of this framework. This is a step in the right direction as Northern Ireland leaves the first wave of this deadly virus and think seriously about what the new normal will look like.

A clear, proactive and realistic plan for resuming health services is needed as we learn to co-exist with Covid-19. We are supportive of the focus placed on the reset of the full range of cancer services, which is to be taken forward by a Covid-19 regional cancer reset cell. This work must be accelerated and we reiterate our desire for a dedicated timetable for scaling up these services.

The steps ongoing within Trusts to implement safe zoning plans to maintain the safety of patients and staff. Maximising confidence and buy-in from patients and the wider public will be just as important as the physical return of individual services. This also means ensuring that temporary reconfigurations to some services are reviewed and future reforms only taken forward in consultation with local communities.

We are not neglectful of the challenges facing the Department and Trusts in this process - not least from the persisting threat of this virus. We remain concerned that health has been disproportionately impacted by delays to funding for transformation as committed in New Decade New Approach. This must be expedited. As we move forward, in order to mitigate the impacts of Covid-19 and pursue long-term improvements in how health and social care is provided in Northern Ireland, the support of all departments and all parties is not only desired but essential.’’