ghp January 2016 | 5 foreword Northern Ireland Health Minister Simon Hamilton The aims of Making Life Better are closely inter-woven with those of the Programme for Government – good population health and a fairer distribution of good health are essential to Building a Better Future. Like other regions in the UK there remain challenges facing Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland. Our population is increasing in size and it is getting older. There is a rise in the number of chronic condi- tions people are living with. Unhealthy lifestyles are building up a ticking time bomb of problems. Miracu- lous developments in medical technologies and drugs are increasing demand and pushing up costs. And all of these challenges are amassing at a time when we also face unprecedented financial pressures. We’ve responded to those challenges by spending over £750 million more on health over the last 5 years. Since 2011, we’ve have been able to employ 240 more medical and dental consultants, 930 more nurses and 460 more allied health professionals. We’ve been able to use that additional investment and extra staff to increase out of hours GP contacts by 12%, increase inpatient admissions by 4.3%, reduce MRSA infections by 42% and increase domiciliary care hours by 7.5% over the last 4 years. Despite these improvements, pressures persist. No Health Service anywhere in the world will survive the assault of these challenges unless it focuses first and foremost on ensuring the highest quality and safety of care; it configures its services correctly and has an appropriate administrative structure. We need to make changes to save our Health Service and set it on a path towards becoming world class. Transformation will take time. It will take a plan. And it will take resources. In the November Monitoring Round my department received an extra £47.6 million additional funding. This funding boost for Health will immediately go towards tackling the significant pressures, such as waiting lists and elective surgery, my Department faces. By being bold and by being brave and by taking nec- essary steps, I believe that we have the ability within Northern Ireland’s Health and Social Care system to not just conquer difficult challenges that arise but also build that world class service that our citizens deserve. My department’s Making Life Better Strategy reflects the com- mitment of the Executive to improving health and wellbeing and reducing health inequalities, through co-ordinated and focussed action on the wider social, economic and environmental deter- minants of health.