Question Time: Health, Social Services and Public Safety Monday 16 March 2015

Concerns around the financial resources and services of Craigavon Area Hospital and Causeway Hospital were discussed during today’s questions to Health Minister, Jim Wells. Dolores Kelly asked what extra resources would be made available to Craigavon Area Hospital in light of the recent increased demand for services. Mr Wells described his Department’s 2015-16 budget as “extremely challenging”. Talks are ongoing with the Trusts, the Health and Social Care Board and the Public Health Authority “to clarify the implications of the Executive’s final budget and develop detailed savings proposals for 2015.” However the Minister was able to indicate that an extra allocation of £28m is planned for the Southern Trust. This represents around 22% of the total planned increase to all Trusts. Given that the Southern Trust currently spends around 16% of the total budget, this represents a significant increase. The Minister added that “I can assure that we will maintain the safety of services for patients and clients across the trusts. That will remain my priority.”

Gregory Campbell asked how the delivery of services at Causeway Hospital will change following the recent senior clinical staff appointments. Having had difficulty in attracting permanent staff in the past the Minister is pleased to see the new staff arrive on site. Three more consultant posts are also expected – “The appointments are good news for the people who use the Causeway Hospital, and it is expected that these permanent postings will enhance the continuity and quality of care for patients”.

The Minister also answered questions on genito-urinary clinics and a rare diseases implementation plan. During topical questions Mr Wells also answered questions on cancer treatment, prescriptions, the budget deficit and Departmental guidelines on abortion.

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