Fiona Devlin on how health and social care must be at the top of the next Northern Ireland Assembly's agenda
"The RCN believes that reforming and modernising our health and social care service is the number one political priority for the next Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive.
"In the past, however, our political parties have often regarded the position of Health Minister as some kind of “poisoned chalice”, a responsibility to be avoided if at all possible. The post is often amongst the last to be chosen by the parties when the system for allocating Executive Ministerial responsibilities is activated after an Assembly election. The RCN wishes to challenge that way of thinking.
"We believe that there exists within health and social care a strong consensus on the way forward, with an emphasis upon reform and modernisation. The Expert Panel chaired by Professor Bengoa is leading the way in this respect. Nurses know that a Health Minister who is prepared to engage with them in mapping the way forward will command their respect and support.
"It would be an important declaration of political commitment to reforming and modernising health and social care if our parties would commit to choosing to take the position of Health Minister, if they are in a position to do so, when ministerial responsibilities are allocated after the election."