Partnership working is the key to transforming health and social care system in Northern Ireland, said NI's Chief Nursing Officer Professor Charlotte McArdle.

Speaking at the launch of a new guide detailing how we can work together to improve health and wellbeing outcomes, Professor McArdle said it is vital to put people at the heart of decision making.

The Co-production Guide “Connecting and Realising Value Through People" is "a fundamental building block towards that ambition", she stated.

The Guide provides underpinning principles for co-production, definitions of key terms and practical guidance to a range of stakeholders on the key steps to achieve effective co-production.

Professor McArdle said: “The views of people who use health and social care services need to be heard as never before.  It’s very clear the challenges facing our health service are growing.  Old ways of doing things are not going to work.  We cannot leave it all to experts and professionals. Everyone should have their say in shaping the future development of services.

“Change is definitely coming – transforming how health and social care is delivered to meet the needs of today’s society. But change won’t work unless people are at the heart of the decision making and that’s why today we are launching the health and social care Co-production Guide.

"It is important that everyone working in health and social care listens to the experience of those who use our services and together we make the necessary changes to modernise services and provide the best care going forward.  However, I am conscious that achieving true partnership working is a journey rather than a destination and we will continue to build on existing mechanisms while seeking new, innovative ways to maximise involvement.”

Many people with experience in using health and social care services were involved in drafting the Guide including using health and social care services, carers, HSC staff, managers, Personal Public Involvement (PPI) leads, the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB), the Public Health agency (PHA), and the Patient and Client Council (PCC).  They were partnered by community and voluntary sector representatives, local government representatives and policy makers from the Department of Health (DoH).

"I would like to extend my sincere thank you to everyone who shared their knowledge and experiences to inform this guide, particularly those with lived experience of current health and social care provision, their family and carers. Your input was invaluable,” added Professor McArdle.