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12/10/2017

Additional £40m Funding Announced For Health Service

The Department of Health has been given an additional £40 million of resource funding for this year.

The money is subject to the passing of a budget act, however the Department of Finance said it hopes the move will help important short term respite.

Sinn Féin MLA Pat Sheehan welcomed the announcement.

He said: "This money should have been released to address some of the pressures on health without resorting to cuts and the farcical consultation process, which is now meaningless.

"It has always been our view these cuts were unnecessary and the consultation was a cynical exercise, which only succeeded in creating division and concern within the wider community.

"People responded to a consultation process based on pressures of £70m facing HSC services. Today's cash injection of £40m for health significantly changes the circumstances in which the public consultation was held.

"Given the changed financial circumstances Trusts cannot, and should not, make recommendations to the Department of Health without a full comprehensive consultation process on a new set of proposals, which fulfils its Section 75 obligations under its Equality Scheme."

SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan said: "I very much welcome the news from the Permanent Secretary for finance that an additional allocation of £40million resource funding is 'proposed' to be made available to the Department of Health.
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"While, on the face of this – this looks like great news, in reality the only way this money can be allocated is with the passing of a Budget Act. Something the political deadlock between the DUP and Sinn Féin is preventing.

"Every year the Assembly normally has an October Monitoring Round which would allow monies unspent by departments to be reallocated. However, the political failure of Sinn Féin and the DUP to restore the Assembly means this money cannot be released without political agreement.

"It is shambolic and completely irresponsible that the political deadlock has left us in a position where frontline health services could be axed, all the while money that could alleviate some of these pressures is trapped unable to be spent.

"It has been made very clear to us that only with Executive approval can this money be reallocated or if as the Secretary of State James Brokenshire has said he will step in and set our budgets via an appropriations bill.

"The SDLP are clear we do not accept British direct rule. It is the job of government here with devolved powers to set our budget. We will not accept a situation where Theresa May under the thumb of Arlene Foster has a free hand on budgets, one of the most important roles of any government.

"Moreover, while I welcome that additional funds have been found, it is clear from the Permanent Secretary's letter that a significant amount of savings will still need to be found and services could still be at risk."

(CD/JP)

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