Kieran McCarthy MLA said: “These figures are positive news for Northern Ireland and they demonstrate the excellent work done by staff in this sector.
“These findings show perfectly why we must do all we can to protect frontline health services of this nature, even in this difficult financial climate, and to make public finance savings we must look at tackling the cost of division in our society.
“Tough times are ahead in terms of public finances and we must look to areas where savings can be made that will not impact negatively on vital services like cancer care for example. That means starting tackling the cost of division in our society and stopping the unnecessary duplication of services in Northern Ireland.
“Tackling societal division is the best way to balance the books and protect important services.”