NIPSA welcomes the opportunity to give its views on this consultation, given not only the importance of the consultation and the widespread public interest on an issue with the potential to affect a significant number of the population, but also the fact that this is one of the first service consultative processes to emerge from the TIG/TAB structures being run by the Department of Health (DOH) in the absence of any democratic oversight.

As a key HSC stakeholder NIPSA recognises that proposals such as those contained in the consultation document can be highly sensitive, when considering change, to better meet the needs of the population of NI. In submitting this response we wish to emphasise, NIPSA attended all public consultation meetings and our response is based on the views expressed at these meetings by professionals, service users, NIPSA members who work across the Health Service and Public Sector generally and critically the service user experience of the many NIPSA members and their families who have accessed the services being consulted upon.

NIPSA wishes to begin by placing on record our appreciation at the testimony of the many courageous members of the public who attended the consultation meetings and spoke so passionately about their experiences and services they received during and after their treatment.

The strength of comment and attendance did not just reflect the testimony of service users but also the excellence of the service experienced HSC staff at all levels had shown across Northern Ireland. Each of these testimonies is a stark reminder of the power of the social compact between the public and the NHS and require the most careful consideration by the Department of Health.

NIPSA’s view is that the population’s appreciation of excellence in service user experience, rather than the frankly self-serving platitudes on the reality of rationing, that have underpinned previous consultation exercises should be clearly reflected in the consultative approach taken by the DOH. Any change implemented must, in NIPSA’s view, ensure that it builds on this platform to further improve service user experience and outcomes in how Stroke Services are structured across NI.

As Northern Ireland’s biggest public sector trade union, NIPSA views the reconfiguration of services as requiring further serious economic and social analysis if it is to improve the delivery of a range of services, for the future betterment of our Health Service. In order that Health Trust’s and staff across the health and social care system are able to meet the needs of the current and future population. NIPSA Branches and Officials, along with our other trade union colleagues, have participated on numerous occasions across all five Health Trust’s on modernisation projects and reconfiguration of services at local level, so formal consultations on how services are delivered are not new to us, even if this consultation is on a regional basis. It is reasonable to say some of these projects have been challenging and have not had support from our members, whilst others have had a clear focus on improved service delivery.

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