Alliance hammers Health Minister on Budget

Alliance Finance Spokesperson Dr Stephen Farry MLA has launched a blistering attack on the UUP Health Minister, Michael McGimpsey, for accepting an inferior health budget for the sake of unity within the Executive, and queried the validity of the claimed new funds.

Stephen Farry stated: “Michael McGimpsey acted like the Grand Old Duke of York, marching us to the top of the hill and then down again in his campaign for proper funding for the Northern Ireland health service.

“He seems to have settled for much less than what is required to maintain a level of healthcare on a par with that in the rest of the United Kingdom for the sake of a façade of unity within the Executive.

“To keep up with the pace of funding in the rest of the UK, Northern Ireland needs a health budget of at least £4.4billion. This revised budget is still some £200m short of what we need just to maintain the same standard of health care.

“Within the Executive Budget, there is little genuine new money for health. The proceeds of efficiency savings are simply existing funds reprocessed. Cash that will come from monitoring rounds will not have any influence.

“Only the new £10m for mental health every year is new money, and this is barely sufficient to address the serious under-funding in important sector. But even here, it barely scratches the surface and does not address the fact we are only spending 8% of our budget on mental health issue compared to the UK average of 12%.

“All over the world health costs are rising. People are living longer, and the price of drugs and new technologies are rising. Sadly, Northern Ireland continues to have a much higher needs base per head than the rest of the UK. The Executive should be striving to close this needs gap, but they are not.

“Efficiency savings are clearly necessary within the health service. But they must not be about denying funds needed for the well-being of the population. Efficiency savings should allow old, outdated practices to be removed, freeing resources to be invested into new treatments.

“But after the draft budget was published, the Health Minister clearly stated that the vast bulk of the scheduled 3% efficiency savings would be required just to keep up with inescapable pressures rather than enabling new investments.

“Alliance wants to see far more emphasis on preventative care, public health, and mental health services. Furthermore, there are no funds to deliver free personal care – something that was a manifesto commitment of all the Executive parties.”


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