Question Time: Health, Social Services and Public Safety 14 October 2014

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, Mr Jim Wells MLA responded to questions on budgetary pressures; cancer services; the Ulster Hospital; Integrated Care Partnerships; and Seven-day Access to GPs.

The Minister told the house that his "Department has faced considerable financial challenges in 2014-15, with £160 million of additional resources estimated to be required to balance the books."

"The situation does not get any better in 2015-16, with additional pressures in the health and social care system of over £300 million on top of those pressures carried forward from 2014-15.  Those will be dealt with through non-recurrent measures.  The largest inescapable pressure in this is additional pension costs, estimated to be in the region of £90 million."

In response to a question on local cancer services, the Minister said:
"Over the past decade, we have witnessed significant progress in cancer provision in Northern Ireland, which has led to real improvements in outcomes for patients across a wide range of cancers.  A recent Europe-wide study shows that Northern Ireland cancer survival rates for lung, breast and prostate are the best in the UK."

However, "It is predicted that, by the age of 75, one in three in Northern Ireland will have cancer."

Members were also informed that the new cancer unit at Altnagelvin hospital will treat "cancer sufferers in places such as Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim [who] will no longer be forced to go the whole way to Dublin; they can go to Altnagelvin for their treatment."

Topical questions included: Ebola; Paediatric Congenital Cardiac Services; GP Workforce; Cancelled Operations; & Organ Donation.

You can read the full transcript on our website.

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