Northern Ireland’s health service is to receive an extra £30 million to help cover the cost of a rising number of emergency hospital admissions, it was announced yesterday.
Welcoming the cash boost, DUP Health Minister Edwin Poots said: “This money will be used to alleviate significant pressures by directly helping patients, elderly people and children receive the treatment, care packages and services they require more efficiently.
“The funding will be focused on frontline services and will directly benefit a large number of patients and other service users.”
But Ulster Unionist health spokesperson Roy Beggs MLA said the additional funding announced yesterday was far short of what is required to address the “black hole” in the health budget , adding: “It will only partly alleviate some of the problems that frontline health services face in Northern Ireland.”
The extra £30 million was given to the NHS by the Stormont Executive following a reallocation of departmental spending.
During the financial year, the Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP) monitors how departments are spending their budgets and can shift money where areas of greater need are present or if a minister is struggling to spend an allocation due to an unexpected delay in a major project or other reasons.
DUP Finance Minister Simon Hamilton announced £35 million of loan funding to support the University of Ulster in developing its new Belfast campus.
He also set aside £15 million to meet penalties imposed by the UK Government for failure to implement welfare reforms.
Stormont parties have expressed concern about how changes agreed at Westminster will affect the worst off in Northern Ireland.
Mr Hamilton said: “The welfare bill needs to be agreed as a matter of urgency.”
Other reallocations included £24 million for the Department for Regional Development (DRD) – mainly for roads maintenance; £6 million for the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD); and £2.5 million for the Department for Social Development (DSD).
Transport Minister Danny Kennedy hailed the extra cash for roads. The UUP man said: “Today’s announcement is a welcome boost for the public and the construction industry. Carrying out road improvements sustains hundreds of jobs every year and ensures the travelling public enjoy safer and more enjoyable journeys.”