Ulster Unionist health spokesperson Roy Beggs MLA has stated that the additional funding announced today for the Health Service is far short of what is required to address the shortfall in the Health Budget, and that the fact that an additional £250 million has made available to the Health Service Budget since May 2011 vindicated the stance taken by Michael McGimpsey when Minister of Health.
Mr Beggs said:
“The £30 million announced by the Finance Minister is only a step towards what is actually required to fill the black hole in the current Health Budget which the Ulster Unionist Party warned was inevitable given the budget settlement in 2011. The Finance Minister has now been forced to make yet another top-up of £30m to alleviate current pressures. This is despite Health officials telling the Health Committee only weeks ago that there were £43m of inescapable pressures which included quality and safety issues, children’s services and admission pressures.
“The Health Service budget has now been topped up by over £250m since May 2011. This is a recognition by respective Finance Ministers that it was not ‘obscene’ of Michael McGimpsey to warn about what was coming down the line; despite what First Minister Peter Robinson claimed in 2011.
“It will only partly alleviate some of the problems that frontline Health Services face in Northern Ireland.
“Simon Hamilton has stated that Edwin Poots is going to have to find ways of addressing the remaining shortfall within the Health Service budget. I challenged the Finance Minister as to how at a time when every one of the Health Trusts are in a deficit and facing peak winter pressures can savings be made without adversely affected frontline services and extending waiting lists. Everyone knows of the crisis which some of our local A&E Departments have faced and I fear that the on-going budgetary shortfall will only continue to adversely affect patients in Northern Ireland.”