10/04/2006

Health Boards to receive major funding boost

Northern Ireland's Health Boards are to receive a major boost in funding as a result of the increase given in last December's budget.

Earlier today, Health Minister Shaun Woodward announced that Health and Social Services Boards are to receive £2.36 billion from the overall budget of £3.78 billion in the 2006/07 financial year.

This is an increase of 8.2%, which means an increase of £180 million more for the Boards this year.

The Health Minister also announced plans to allocate funds more fairly and to the frontline and the fact that Boards and Trusts are on course to break even.

Mr Woodward said: "This will help to put patients first. By increasing resources, in real terms to the front line, it will help reduce waiting lists, improve access to renal services, extend children's services and open a range of new and improved facilities."

He added that funding for Boards where the population has been increasing most rapidly in recent years, would also be allocated more fairly in future.

The Minister continued: "My decision today is not just about allocating more money, but also about allocating it more fairly. I have already made a major commitment to stripping funds away from bureaucracy and into doctors and nurses and other health professionals. But we want to match funding as fairly as possible to where people need our services. That is why we use a formula that takes account of population in the health board areas, by age, gender, level of deprivation and the proportion living in remote and rural areas."

He also said that an additional £10 million would be shared out between the Southern, Western and Northern Boards in 2006/07 and an extra £12 million in 2007/08 to better align their resources with population need.

In service terms this means extra investment in elderly care in the Northern Board, mental health in the Southern Board, and children's services and renal and critical care in the Western Board.

Mr Woodward added that this would not impact disproportionately on the Eastern Board as the £10 million and £12 million for the Southern, Western and Northern Boards comes from additional resources and adjustments will simply bring funding more into line with the needs of this population relative to populations elsewhere in Northern Ireland.

The Eastern Board still stands to receive a funding increase of over 7%.

The Health Minister also revealed that over the next two years, there will be province-wide improvements made in key regional services, particularly in cardiac surgery, renal and cancer services and in service developments such as expansion of the renal unit at the Ulster Hospital, a new Breast Screening Centre at the City Hospital and implementing new digital technology across all our X-ray departments.

Specific funding next year will see: £12 million for reform of elective care; £10 million to better align resources with population need; £4 million to improve Foster Care provision; £2 million for child protection; £2 million for Children's residential care; £0.5 million for Children leaving care; £1.5 million for Renal services; and, £2 million in support of a range of capital projects planned to open in 2006-07.

These resources for new developments are on top of £23.5 million provided to meet the 2006-07 costs of HPSS pay modernisation and almost £12 million to run new facilities.

(EF)

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