DoH 'Can't Afford' Increasing Pressures

The Permanent Secretary of the Department of Health has said the health service simply cannot afford growing costs.

Local health and social care trusts are expected to face a £20 million deficit this financial year, as demands for investment to slash waiting lists, increase wages and recruit more staff pile up.

Delivering a speech at a conference for the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, Richard Pengelly hit out at claims the Department is choosing not to invest in areas of need.

"Why wouldn't I want to reduce waiting lists, increase pay for hard pressed staff and reduce the pressure on those staff by recruiting and training more colleagues? Why wouldn't I want to improve mental health provision and focus on suicide prevention, commission new drugs for patients with cancer and other serious conditions?
News Image
"The truth is I simply can't afford to do all these things – in fact, I can't afford to do all the things we currently do.

"And with a fixed budget, I can only do more in some areas by doing less in others. And that is the key challenge."

It's expected the deficit represents only a small amount of pressures and demands likely to face health care in the coming months and years.

Mr Pengelly continued: "Currently these are presented to me with frustration – the argument being that because I don't do something, it means I don't want to do it. That is certainly not the case."

The health chief called for society-wide collaboration on budgetary priorities and how best to allocate limited resources.

"In the next year alone, the competing demands and pressures could between them add hundreds of millions to an already very stretched health budget," Mr Pengelly concluded.


Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

07 November 2019
University Workers Back Eight-Day Strike
Staff at Queen's University and Ulster University are facing eight days of strike action from 25 November, it's been confirmed. Sixty universities from the UK wide University College Union (UCU) backed the action amid disputes over pay and pensions.
05 November 2019
Prepare For Winter Driving Conditions
Road users are urged to take extra care on the roads throughout the darker months as the roads service gears up to manage the challenges of winter driving. As the cold sets in and daylight hours grow shorter, the Government is preparing around 300 staff, 130 gritters and 12 snow blowers for operation between now and April.
21 September 2004
Minister drills home tooth decay problem
Health Minister Angela Smith has launched a consultation document aimed at improving the state of people's teeth in Northern Ireland. The Oral Health Strategy is a 10-year plan which aims to improve the oral health of the entire population and reduce inequalities.
01 February 2018
PHA Launches Breastfeeding Campaign
The Public Health Agency (PHA) has launched a new breastfeeding campaign. The campaign highlights the health benefits of breastfeeding and supporting mums to feel more comfortable breastfeeding in public. The SDLP has welcomed the launch of the Public Health Agency’s breastfeeding campaign.
03 September 2008
Changes Loom On Health Care
News of a radical shake-up proposed for health and social care in Belfast is not the only changes afoot as the way that health promotion is delivered across Northern Ireland is also being changed.