Of­fi­cials call for clar­ity over new health fund­ing

Belfast Telegraph - - NEWS - BY SIOB­HAN FEN­TON

THE Depart­ment for Health has called on Sec­re­tary of State James Bro­ken­shire to clar­ify when it will re­ceive fund­ing af­ter MPs voted to pass a Bud­get at West­min­ster.

The House of Com­mons unan­i­mously backed pro­pos­als for the Bill, which puts in place fi­nan­cial pro­vi­sions for North­ern Ire­land af­ter par­ties here failed to reach a deal to re­store the Stor­mont Ex­ec­u­tive.

In it, Mr Bro­ken­shire re­vealed an in­crease in health spend­ing of 5.4%. How­ever, trade union Uni­son ar­gued this ef­fec­tively amounted to a fund­ing drop as it fails to keep up with health in­fla­tion, which stands at 6%.

He told Par­lia­ment he will also re­lease £50m of fund­ing for health and ed­u­ca­tion, which will be the first por­tion of the £1bn deal agreed be­tween the Con­ser­va­tives and the DUP as part of their ‘con­fi­dence and sup­ply’ agree­ment to sup­port the mi­nor­ity Gov­ern­ment.

In a state­ment, a spokesman for the Depart­ment of Health said: “It has to be em­pha­sised that health is fac­ing very sig­nif­i­cant fi­nan­cial pres­sures.

“The ini­tial as­sess­ment of the fi­nan­cial po­si­tion for 2018-19 and 2019-20 in­di­cates pres­sures of some hun­dreds of mil­lions just to main­tain ex­ist­ing ser­vices.

“In re­la­tion to the Sec­re­tary of State’s com­ments on fund­ing from the con­fi­dence and sup­ply agree­ment, im­me­di­ate health pri­or­i­ties would in­clude in­vest­ment in wait­ing list ini­tia­tives. Early con­fir­ma­tion of ad­di­tional fund­ing is es­sen­tial as our abil­ity to spend ef­fec­tively di­min­ishes with each pass­ing week as we move closer to fi­nan­cial year end on March 31, 2018.”

In­tro­duc­ing the Bud­get at West­min­ster, Mr Bro­ken­shire said he was re­luc­tant to take the step but oth­er­wise North­ern Ire­land would run out of money by the end of this month with­out lo­cal politi­cians in place at Stor­mont to pass it there.

He added he re­mained hope­ful an agree­ment would be reached be­tween the par­ties that would al­low a new Ex­ec­u­tive to be formed.

De­spite nu­mer­ous rounds of ne­go­ti­a­tions since power-shar­ing col­lapsed in Jan­uary, the par­ties have not been able to reach a deal to re­turn to gov­ern­ment.

Sec­re­tary of State James Bro­ken­shire

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