The College has welcomed the Elective Care Framework, Restart, Recovery and Design published by the Department of Health in Northern Ireland and Robin Swann MLA, Minister of Health. The Elective Care Framework proposes a £700m investment over five years and sets out a five year plan to reduce the backlog of patients currently waiting for assessment and treatment.
The Framework commits to:
Support the Pathology Network in ensuring that Health and Social Care (HSC) Pathology Services are equipped to support delivery across all relevant Rebuild programmes, in line with the modernisation and transformation of HSC Pathology Services.
This will include:
- Continuing to support delivery of COVID-19 testing across the HSC whilst ensuring routine laboratory services are restored and equipped to support Rebuilding activity across all relevant areas (diagnostics, elective care etc);
- Continuing the programme of HSC Pathology Transformation to improve long term resilience through: regional standardisation of laboratory processes; procurement of replacement of Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS) by April 2021; implementation of regional digital pathology solution by summer 2021.
Professor Ken Mills, Chair of the Royal College of Pathologists' Northern Ireland Regional Council, said:
‘These are promising commitments and a good start towards tackling the current backlog. The regional pathology modernisation is progressing at pace and combined with the digital pathology roll-out will certainly improve throughput.
Following disruption caused by COVID-19, the College has serious concerns over the backlog of non-COVID-19 illness and the related surge of demand for pathology services, particularly for cancer diagnosis and treatment both tissue and blood cancers.’