Minister Simon Hamilton today welcomed additional funding of £47.6m which will go towards addressing pressures, in particular current waiting times, across the Health and Social Care sector.
The Minister said: “The pressures facing Northern Ireland’s Health Service have been well publicised. I have been 100% committed to dealing with issues like waiting lists and preparing for this upcoming winter, but my ability to address those problems was severely hampered by the fact that the Executive was losing so much money through welfare reform penalties.
“Yesterday’s agreement not only presents the opportunity for a fresh start for devolution. It has also created an opportunity to deal with the challenges facing our Health and Social Care system because our public finances are back on a sound footing.”
He continued: “I warmly welcome the investment of an additional £47.6 million in Health and Social Care in this year. It is a much needed boost that will begin to address our waiting lists.
“£40 million of the extra resources my Department has received in the November Monitoring Round will go specifically to tackling waiting lists. This investment will allow up to 40,000 additional assessments and between 10,000 and 15,000 additional operations and treatments to be progressed. This will be across a wide range of specialities including orthopaedics, gastroenterology, neurology, and ENT.
“I understand the stress and strain that being on a waiting list will have meant for many people so I am pleased that very soon, many will start to receive notification of early appointments for hip and knee operations, spinal procedures and urology for example.”
In addition to the £40 million for waiting lists, a further £7.6 million has been secured to meet a range of priority pressures across essential front line services. Included in this are:
- £4m for Trusts and primary care to manage increased demand during the busy winter months.
- £0.8m for the Family Fund, will enable approximately 1,500 local families with children and young people with disabilities to avail of the financial support to relieve the financial burden which these families would otherwise face.
- Funding for additional insulin pumps to help meet continued demand
- Further investment in children’s and other essential services.
- £1.6m for psychological therapies which will support cognitive behaviour therapy, counselling, family support and psycho-analytic therapies.
The Minister concluded: “This funding boost for Health will immediately go towards tackling the significant pressures my Department faces. I am committed to developing a world class Health and Social Care system to serve the people of Northern Ireland and that means addressing waiting lists. This investment will improve the lives of thousands of people and marks the start of my plan to bring waiting lists under control. I recognise this will not be easy and unfortunately will take time to restore but I am determined to succeed.”