The deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness today addressed the Northwest Health Innovation Corridor conference at the North West Regional College, Derry.
Established in November 2012 the Northwest Health Innovation Corridor initiative spans Sligo, Letterkenny, Derry/Londonderry and Coleraine, and provides an open innovation network for health and social care outcomes.
The deputy First Minister said: “We must make every possible effort develop a world class system of universal health care across the island of Ireland, accessed on the basis of need and free at the point of delivery.
“Ministers with responsibility for the Health brief and other government departments are important factors, but so are civil society groups, academia, private businesses and the local community. The vision for the North West Health Innovation Corridor is important to everyone in the North West. Important in terms of access to health provision, healthcare outcomes, the economy and high quality employment opportunities. The approach of joined up thinking, joined up working and using our finite resources to make the greatest possible impact.
“There is an increased prevalence of chronic conditions, mental health and wellbeing issues, and the consequences of unhealthy lifestyles. It makes sense for us to work together to tackle these challenges, to pool our resources and investment, to share best practice, skills and experience and to bring our combined efforts to public health promotion and awareness raising.”
The Northwest Health Innovation Corridor vision is by 2020, the Northwest will be internationally recognised as a health and social sciences research and innovation zone driving the local economy, creating sustainable growth in employment, and creating improvements in health and social well-being that will address health inequalities in the Northwest through the utilisation of the most advanced technology.
Commenting on the opening of the new £66million Radiotherapy Unit at Altnagelvin which is scheduled to take place shortly Martin McGuinness said: “The £66million investment includes a €19million euro contribution from the Irish Government. It is a perfect example of co-operation for mutual benefit for all the people in the North West and demonstrates the importance of us all working together on a cross border basis for the benefits of everyone.
“It is vital we address health inequalities, to ensure there is a proper focus on those who live in deprived, and in remote and rural areas, where healthcare services are less accessible. We can address this more effectively and more sustainably for the long term, through collaborative North/South working. The future sustainability of our health and care system depends to a great extent on the creative deployment of innovation and technology. It is imperative our health service embraces modern, imaginative approaches to service delivery.
“The North West Health Innovation Corridor can make a major contribution. By attracting high-quality innovators we can make the North West a place of discovery and invention, leading to the development and adoption of new health care solutions and enable us to deliver the best possible health outcomes for people. Associated with this is the potential to draw in business investment and support the creation of high quality jobs, giving impetus to our local economy here in the northwest.
“I do not underestimate the scale of the challenges we face but I have huge faith and belief in the people of the North West, and the professionals in the health sector, to embrace innovation and develop practical action plans for delivery.”
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