12/03/2002

Hospitals and community service costs posted online

Detailed costs for a range of hospital and community services are to be published for the first time on the Internet by the Northern Ireland Department of Health.

The Health Minister Bairbre de Brún said her department was adopting the novel approach in order to enhance the accountability of the health service, which in recent times has come under huge critical analysis.

Last week, the Department posted statistics for the last quarter which showed waiting lists in Northern Ireland hospitals were at their highest ever recorded levels.

The material available on the Internet site identifies the average cost of providing various acute and community services during 2000/01.

These costs will be calculated annually by each Trust, and will reflect the average unit cost for each organisation for a particular year.

Each Trust’s costs can be compared with other similar providers, with a view, the minister explained, to driving improvements in efficiency.

Ms de Brún said: “For this year, the costs relate to all surgical hospital specialties and to a range of community services, including physiotherapy, domiciliary care and health visiting. I am committed to publishing the costs of additional acute specialties and community services over the next few years."

Speaking about her decision to publish these costs, the Minister said: "This will not only enhance the accountability of the HPSS, but it will help organisations to understand what their costs are and how they compare with others. This is particularly relevant in today’s health service, where constant demands are being placed on scarce and limited resources."

www.dhsspsni.gov.uk/publications

(AMcE)

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