No room for complacency as health improves for local people

Session: 2009/2010

Date: 11 February 2010

Reference: PAC 08/09/10

Notable improvements have been made in the health of local people and must be sustained. That is one of the key findings from a report launched today by the Northern Ireland Assembly Public Accounts Committee.

‘The Report on the Performance of the Health Service in Northern Ireland’ examines the way health outcomes have improved over the past 10 to 20 years and highlights the particular gains made in the areas of life expectancy and decreasing mortality from cancer, coronary heart disease and stroke.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Paul Maskey MLA, Chairperson of the Committee, said: “The Committee was particularly encouraged by the improvements in coronary care. Between 2000 and 2006, there has been a 28 per cent reduction in deaths from circulatory disease, including coronary heart disease. This is outstanding progress, and I am sure that the wider public will want me to congratulate the medical teams involved on their achievements.

“However, there is no room for complacency. Of particular concern to the Committee were the inequalities in terms of life expectancy and quality of life between people living in the most and least deprived areas.”

The Report also considered the issue of increasing diabetes, which costs the Health Service over £1 million per day. While the Department reported that it was addressing the issue by developing education and self-management programmes, Diabetes UK Northern Ireland reported that only 15 to 20 percent of patients are receiving such education.

In closing Mr Maskey said: “It is important to assess the approach and success of the Department in both treating illness and preventing its occurrence in the first place. Greater investment and targeted public health educational programmes could considerably reduce preventable killer diseases. Changing lifestyles that contribute to ill-health is also a challenge. It is a challenge we all need to face if this is to become a healthier society.”


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