COMMENT: Northern Ireland's acute services review needs urgent implementation

All but one part of the UK has had well-defined plans for the future of its health services for some time; now at last Northern Ireland does too. Its acute services review, calling for a radical shake-up in the structure of the province's services, is welcome and long overdue.

Many of Northern Ireland's reviews have gathered dust on shelves over the last 20 years.

This time, however, it must be more than a paper exercise. As warnings grow louder from normally cautious senior managers that entire trusts are on the verge of collapse, there must be no delay in implementing the review. People in the province of all political persuasions have been enthusiastic about the Assembly's role in health - the threat of its collapse is too disturbing even to contemplate. Whitehall must ensure that funding is made available quickly in order to be able to provide the high-quality regional and local services to which everyone in the UK is entitled.