Achieving Award-Winning Health Care: The Northern Ireland Example

The Office of the Northern Ireland Executive in Brussels hosted the NICS Department of Health for an event showcasing transformation in Northern Ireland’s primary care health services. Healthcare representatives discussed Multi-Disciplinary Teams (MDT) and CAWT’s (Cooperation and Working Together) Cross-Border Community Paramedic project, demonstrating and promoting the benefits of cross-border European Union funding projects to the wider European community in Brussels.

The panel presentation and subsequent discussions featured Chris Matthews (DoH’s Director of Primary Care), Damien McCallion (Chief Executive of CAWT), Sean Murphy (Chair of Acute Working Group) and Bernie McCrory (Chief Officer CAWT). With their professional insight and expertise they showcased Northern Ireland’s award-winning healthcare transformation in two presentations.

MDT Approach at GP Practices

The first presentation featured the multi-disciplinary teams (MDT) approach at GP practices  involving physiotherapists, mental health specialists and social workers, resulting in patients being seen faster by the professional most suited to their needs, enabling earlier intervention and reducing pressure on hospital services. This initiative was launched in 2018 in GP practices in Down and Derry/Londonderry and already covers 675 000 people in Northern Ireland. Further investment and expansion of the project is planned for 2020/21.

CAWT Cross-Border Community Paramedic Project

The second presentation described the CAWT Cross Border Community Paramedic project.  The project enables paramedics to see and treat patients in their communities and their own homes, with the aim of improving the well-being and health of border populations by working across boundaries and jurisdictions. This project especially targets patients living in remote and rural border areas of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland. So far, highly trained Community Paramedics are operating in four pilot localities. They have all undergone specialised training to be able to see patients in their own homes rather than having to transport them to busy hospitals far from their own communities.

Refer to this video detailing the project:

Regiostars Event

This innovative project was nominated as a finalist in the ‘Modernising Healthcare Services’ category of the EU’s annual Regiostars event, awarding Europe’s most innovative, regional projects. This category was topic of the year and received 199 submissions from all over the EU. Being selected by an independent jury as one of five final contestants out of 199 submissions shows the great impact of this project.