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Northern Ireland, UK


Strategic Planning of Health Facilities in Northern Ireland


  • The project was initiated following a strategic review of health and social facilities in Northern Ireland; a population of 1.7 million
  • The plan adopted a twin track perspective:
    • Defined specific planning requirements for the short to mid-term where emerging new models of care could be anticipated and needed facilitating support (5 to 10 years horizon)
    • Generic plans that would be adaptable over the longer term through design and investment flexibility
  • The plan was aimed at facilitating the key review findings:
    • Patient services based on a whole systems seamless care principle
    • The concept of the virtual hospital – a hospital without walls
    • A focus on more care delivered where appropriately in the community
    • The end of the stand alone hospital or institution
  • The project is about introducing a new network (sophisticated hub and spoke)  interlinked range of facilities, from hospitals to health centres
  • A pivotal decision was new thinking about the role of the community health centre as a focal point for dispersed (from the hospital) and more accessible local health care
  • A key decision was the integration within these facilities of acute, primary and social care
  • They were designed to high standard and for long-term flexibility, incorporating therapeutic environmental principles
  • In practice the high levels of investment in more local facilities coupled with the high quality environment, in particular targeting deprived areas, has acted as a catalyst for urban regeneration and social cohesion
  • The project is still in early stages, however the decision to focus investment in the early stages on community facilities ahead of hospital redevelopment has paid dividends – the hospital redevelopment and restructuring programme is continuing




  • Firmly based on a comprehensive strategic review of short, medium and long-term population heath and social need
  • A whole systems network principle to facilitate new integrated models of care
  • Greater levels of care devolved to more local facilities – overcoming health inequalities
  • Significant capital investment in local (and often deprived) communities in part acting as a catalyst for urban renewal




  • It is a whole systems project and must be carried through in full if planned benefit is to be realised; this requires a high and sustained level of capital financing
  • There is a need to steer through major changes in care models and work practices, including integrating health and social care; culture change on this scale is ambitious and often difficult


Structural Fund relevance, extremely high

  • This is a textbook approach to regional structure planning and is particularly applicable to all new member states and their regions – it avoids the trap of continuing with the conventional hospital-centric model of healthcare capital investment commonly observed across Europe. This increasingly outmoded model is being overtaken by new thinking about whole systems integrated care and meeting the growing needs of the elderly and chronic ill in more local and community focused ways
  • The vision created is being implemented in a visionary and innovative manner with high regard and responsiveness to local community need
  • It has high potential for stimulating urban regeneration and strengthening social cohesion
  • In specific circumstances these benefits will add to economic growth in local areas

 Download the detailed description of the case study from here.

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