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Poots signs agreement for closer cooperation with Basque region

Health Minister Edwin Poots has signed a significant agreement with his Basque counterpart to enable closer cooperation between Northern Ireland and the Basque region.
Friday, 23 November 2012

Mr Poots and Rafael Bengoa, who is the Regional Minister of Health and Consumer Affairs in the Basque Government, signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) last night at the opening dinner for the Institute of Healthcare Management (IHM) conference at Titanic Belfast.

Welcoming Dr Bengoa to Northern Ireland, Mr Poots said that the two Ministers had a strong working relationship built on previous meetings in Brussels and Bilbao. He said both Ministers understood that their devolved administrations faced similar challenges of ageing populations and limited budgets. He said the MOU offered both regions an opportunity to draw on each other’s experiences and expertise and he added that international collaboration would ensure patients get the best possible care.

The Minister said: “In May, Dr Bengoa’s administration and my Department agreed to work together to tackle the common challenges facing our healthcare systems. We agreed to strengthen links between health, science and industry and to improve learning on systems and health technologies across our two regions. We also recognised that closer co-operation in this area has the potential to unlock key European Union healthcare funding.

“That is why we are signing this Memorandum of Understanding. It is a strong foundation for future co-operation. By sharing our experiences, challenges and expertise, we will bring benefits for the health and social care in both Northern Ireland and in the Basque region.”

He added: “It is an honour to have Dr Bengoa visit Northern Ireland. He brings with him a long and distinguished career in medicine, in academia and in public service. As a Minister he has led by example. I would wish to extend a warm Ulster welcome to him.”

Speaking to delegates at the IHM dinner, Mr Poots spoke of his determination to drive through the reform of health and social care to deliver better outcomes for all service users.

He said healthcare managers have a vital role to play in delivering change by providing leadership. Mr Poots told delegates he expected them to challenge, advise, communicate and guide where appropriate. He said that change is vital and that it should not be feared and he reminded those gathered of the importance of engaging fully with the consultation process on the proposals emerging from Transforming Your Care.

He said: “Change is rarely best achieved by top down imposition. Rather change needs to be discussed and debated so that the views of all those affected can be taken into account. The reform of health and social care under Transforming Your Care has now entered this crucial phase of wide debate and conversation.”

Dr Bengoa is also scheduled to deliver a keynote address at the Institute of Healthcare Management (IHM) Annual Conference.

Notes to editors:

1. The Memorandum of Understanding focuses on closer cooperation on Connected Health and Social Care between Northern Ireland and the Basque Region. It has five themes which are:

a. to promote a think tank for policy development;

b. to facilitate learning networks;

c. to develop the two regions as living laboratories for research

d. to explore scope for innovate public procurement

e. to establish an evaluation network.

2. The Institute of Healthcare Management is the professional organisation for managers and leaders throughout the UK Health and Social Care sector.

3. Dr. R. Bengoa's career has been both national and international. He has practiced as a doctor in Spain in both hospital and primary care. He has a MsC in Community Medicine by London School of Hygiene and Community Medicine, and a MsC in Health Care Management. He has worked for the World Health Organisation in Copenhagen and in Geneva where he was Director for the Management of Chronic Conditions and Director for Health System Policies until 2006. He is professor in ESADE Business School in Spain and also teacher at McGill University in Canada where he teaches Leadership in Health Care. Presently, he is Regional Minister for Health and Consumer Affairs in the Basque Country in Spain. His main interest is integrated care and the quality and management of chronic conditions.

4. For photographs of Thursday’s signing or for Media enquiries about this press release to DHSSPS Press Office on 028 9052 0575, or out of office hours contact to Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.