Alliance Health Spokesperson Paula Bradshaw has warned exceptional funding will still be required for the health system after the pandemic, upon the second report of the NI Audit Office into COVID-19 spending.
The South Belfast MLA said: “While noting that it comes both from the UK Treasury and the NI block grant, the total spend on exceptional COVID-19 issues in Northern Ireland now matches almost exactly the total devolved budget for Health in Northern Ireland. The truly exceptional nature of this spending is demonstrated by the fact that 27 Ministerial directions – authorising spending which would ordinarily have received considerably greater scrutiny – have been issued during the crisis by Executive Ministers, more than in the previous ten years in total.
“As the vaccination programme holds before us the prospect of a return to some sort of ‘normality’, we must recognise immediately the huge task which lies a head in rebuilding a Health Service which is fit for purpose, responsive to modern needs, and truly universal. To manage the necessary Transformation Programme to achieve this while ensuring services are provided in the short term, we will surely see further requests for exceptional funding.
“It is essential that Departments work together with auditors to ensure that ways are found to recognise that the crisis in the health system, particularly around waiting lists, delivering a Transformation Programme and emerging from the Pandemic, receives appropriate priority.”