Swann Welcomes Improvements From Waiting List Investment

Health Minister Robin Swann has welcomed the news that investment in waiting lists in 2021/22 secured 270,875 assessments, tests and procedures for patients.

The investment totalled £89.5m during the financial year and included payments to independent sector providers as well as additional in-house activity by health service Trusts.

It also included an allocation of £2m to GP Federations to undertake a range of assessments and day case procedures in primary care.

The Minister said: "This funding has made a real difference. In providing this breakdown of activity for 2021/22, I want to acknowledge the hard work that went into securing these additional tests, assessments and procedures.

"This included using independent sector providers in Northern Ireland, GB and RoI. Priorities included treatment for cancer and other time critical patients.

"The £89.5m comprised non-recurrent one-off allocations secured by my Department for the year. As I have stated many times before, having to rely on one-off allocations hampers effective long-term planning. I will keep pressing the case for sustained investment and budgetary certainty for our health service."
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The Minister continued: "2021/22 was an incredibly difficult year for our health service, with devastating consequences from the pandemic. COVID-19 severely constrained health service capacity – reducing space, staffing and bed availability.

"Without this £89.5m investment in securing additional capacity, waiting lists would have climbed much more rapidly in the past year. An already dire situation would be much much worse – making it even more difficult to turn around.

"A vital objective now is to build health service capacity back up to pre-pandemic levels and beyond.

"Our goal is to get beyond the containment of waiting list growth to the point where there is a sustained reduction.

"That will be achieved through the two pronged approach set out in my Elective Care Strategy – building up our staffing and in-house capacity while also investing in additional activity by the independent sector."

The Minister announced last month that a further £46m has been allocated for additional waiting list activity for the first six months of 2022/23.

"This money is being spent at risk in the absence of a health budget. Funding pressures in health may be significant by the second half of 2022/23 and the financial situation will undoubtedly be constrained whatever the final budget settlement," Mr Swann added.

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