12/02/2020

Health Service Needs £661m- Minister Swann

The Department of Health will need over £660 million to keep up with current services and tackle waiting lists over the next year, the Minister has said.

Robin Swann marked his first month in office by spelling out the extent of the financial pressures ahead of the local health budget.

He said his ability to cut waiting lists and tackle other serious health problems will depend on the funding allocations for his department.

The projected minimum requirement of £661m, to meet commitments in the New Decade New Approach deal, includes an estimated £170m to deliver safe staffing and pay parity to healthcare employees.

Minister Swann said: "There are, however, deep-seated problems across the health and social care system that will take years to put right. This will require major investment on a sustained basis – along with transformation reforms."

The requested budget would be a £492m increase on the current funding allocation and would allow the Department to meet the "inescapable" costs of existing services.
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The UUP MLA said delivering this money would maintain the status quo, however current issues in terms of waiting lists would prevail.

"It means another year of frustration and falling short of public expectations – with gaps in provision and unmet need growing," Minister Swann continued.

"In terms of waiting lists, it would allow a focus on red flag and urgent cases such as suspected cancer but overall the current totally unacceptable waiting list position would be unlikely to improve."

The Minister acknowledged that the New Decade, New Approach deal had raised expectations, while other Departments and frontline public services also remain under significant pressure.

"In terms of hospital waiting lists, New Decade New Approach states that no-one waiting over a year at 30 September 2019 for outpatient or inpatient assessment/treatment will still be on a waiting list by March 2021.

"I appreciate that some £492m to maintain existing services and a further £169m to meet New Decade New Approach commitments is a significant ask."



(JG/CM)

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