Health Minister’s funding ask demonstrates need for pace of transformation to increase, says Bradshaw

Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has said the Health Minister’s warning his Department needs £661 million to maintain existing services and meet commitments shows the transformation of health and social care must speed up.

Robin Swann said the funding requirement included commitments on pay parity and staffing. South Belfast MLA Ms Bradshaw said it showed services could no longer be left as they are but fundamentally reformed.

“If Health Ministers for the rest of the decade keep asking for the same spending rises year after year, health will account for the entirety of the devolved budget by the end of that time. It is obvious this is not sustainable and tough decisions will have to be made on driving forward reform and prioritising services.

“One reason there is not greater outcry about the extent of waiting lists is we already have a two-tier service – people with means are increasingly opting out and choosing private provision. This is creating a fundamental social division in access to health, which will not be fixed simply by throwing more money at keeping things as they are.

“A fundamental reform, giving more priority to primary care and providing specialist services on a regional basis, is already decades overdue. What these figures show is without transformation being taken forward faster than currently planned, the Executive will not be able to escape having to engage in significant revenue raising. That is the conundrum which lies before us, and there can be no more escaping the tough choices in the immediate short-term.”