Funding towards the Magee Medical School and Magee expansion, the A5 Derry & Donegal to Dublin routes, pay parity for nurses, tackling waiting lists and mental health provision, more integrated education, addressing the education crisis, and a new Welfare Mitigations package are among the key commitments outlined in the ‘New Decade, New Approach’ blueprint.
The document has been published as the British and Irish governments urge the main political parties to sign up to it today.
While no specific funding allocations are detailed in the document, a key priority commitment set out in it stipulates that the “Executive will expand university provision at Magee in line with commitments made by the previous Executive, including through the establishment of a Graduate Entry Medical School.”
The document states that a new Executive will set about “turbo charging infrastructure”, including increased funding for capital for a range of projects including the A5 Derry to Aughnacloy and A6 Derry to Belfast road projects and the Medical School in Derry, although it caveats the later as being “subject to the Northern Ireland Executive’s approval of the project”.
It also commits to “additional funding to support the Derry/Londonderry addiction centre”.
In terms of priorities, the document states that the restored Executive will “bring positive changes in areas that impact greatly on people’s lives such as the economy, overcrowded hospitals, struggling schools, housing stress, welfare concerns and mental health”.
*It further states that the parties have agreed that the immediate priorities for the restored Executive should be transforming our health service with a long-term funding strategy, including● immediately settling the ongoing pay dispute; introducing a new action plan on waiting times; and delivering reforms on health and social care as set out in the Bengoa.
*It states that no-one waiting over a year at 30 September 2019 for outpatient or inpatient assessment/treatment will still be on a waiting list by March 2021.
*The Executive will reconfigure hospital provision to deliver better patient outcomes, more stable services and sustainable staffing, with an extra 900 nursing and midwifery undergraduate places over three years, some of which could come to the Nursing School at Magee.
*The Executive will publish a Mental Health Action Plan within two months; a Mental Health Strategy by December 2020; a successor strategy and action plan to the Strategic Direction for Alcohol and Drugs Phase 2 within three months; and a new strategy and implementation plan on cancer by December 2020.
*The Executive will provide three funded cycles of IVF treatment.
*The Executive will urgently resolve the current teachers’ industrial dispute. It will also address resourcing pressures in schools, ensuring that every school has a sustainable core budget to deliver quality education.
*The Executive will establish an external, independent review of education provision, with a focus on securing greater efficiency in delivery costs, raising standards, access to the curriculum for all pupils, and the prospects of moving towards a single education system.
*To help build a shared and integrated society, the Executive will support educating children and young people of different backgrounds together in the classroom.
*The Executive will establish an expert group to examine and propose an action plan to address links between persistent educational underachievement and
socio-economic background, including the long-standing issues facing working-class, Protestant boys.
*The Executive will deliver a new special educational needs framework to support young people with special needs to achieve their full potential.
*The Executive will increase police numbers to 7,500.
*A top priority of the Executive will be to develop a regionally-balanced economy with opportunities for all.
*The Executive will make it a priority to realise the economic potential offered by City Deals for the Belfast Region and Derry/Londonderry, including through match capital funding for infrastructure, regeneration and tourism projects. The Executive will work with the
UK Government to develop and deliver the Growth Deals for Mid South West Northern Ireland and Causeway Coast and Glens.
*The Executive will tackle climate change head on with a strategy to address the immediate and longer term impacts of climate change.
The Executive will introduce legislation and targets for reducing carbon emissions in line with the Paris Climate Change Accord.
In support of both economic and educational objectives, the Executive will develop an
enhanced approach to careers advice, curriculum, training and apprenticeships to enhance employability and support economic growth.
*Delivering a fair and compassionate society that supports working families and the most vulnerable. The Executive will develop and implement an Anti-poverty Strategy.
*The parties reaffirm their commitment to tackling paramilitarism. Ending the harm done by paramilitarism will be a priority in the new Programme for Government.
*There will be a focus within the Programme for Government on ending sectarianism and robust supporting strategies and actions will be put in place.
*By introducing legislation to reclassify housing associations, the Executive will enable housing associations to continue building new social housing and intermediate housing, including the Co-ownership Housing Scheme after March 2020. Housing will be included as a specific priority in the Programme for Government. The Executive will also enhance investment and agree a target for new social and affordable home starts and tackle the maintenance backlog for Northern Ireland Housing Executive properties.
*The Executive will examine options to remove historical debt from the NI Housing Executive and exclude it from having to pay Corporation Tax, and set a long-term trajectory for the rental charges for NI Housing Executive homes which is sustainable and is affordable to tenants.
*The Executive will extend existing welfare mitigation measures beyond March 2020, when they are currently due to expire.
*The Executive will press on with implementation of a redress scheme for victims and survivors of historical abuse, making payments as early as possible.
*The Executive will publish a Childcare Strategy and identify resources to deliver extended, affordable and high quality provision of early education and care initiatives for families with children aged 3-4.
*The loss of a child causes unimaginable pain for families. The Executive will establish a child funeral fund, to ease the burden on families suffering acutely.
*The Executive will bring about parity in financial support to victims of contaminated blood in Northern Ireland with those in England.