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Northern Ireland appoints new health minister

The Northern Ireland Assembly has appointed a new health minister, with Jim Wells replacing Edwin Poots.

Mr Wells, a Democratic Unionist member of the legislative assembly (MLA), took on the role as minister for health, social services and public safety on 23 September.

Mr Poots, who was appointed health minister in 2011, has been a driving force in introducing Northern Ireland’s ‘Transforming Your Care’ health reforms which are focused on integrating health and social care services.

Mr Wells is now expected to continue rolling out the reforms, however in welcoming the new minister Northern Irish GPC chair Dr Tom Black warned he would face ‘difficult choices’ in the process.

Dr Black said: ‘It is clear from the challenges ahead that a focus on investment in primary and community services is required if the shift of work from secondary care as envisioned in TYC is to be achieved.’

It comes as the BMA warned last week that GP waiting times and out-of-hours services may worsen as a result of harsh budgetary constraints in Northern Ireland, with some parts of TYC having to be put on hold as funding failed to materialise.