The amount of public money spent on private ambulances in the Western Trust has rocketed over the past five years from just £12,000 in 2009/10 to £215,000 in 2013/14 - an eighteenfold increase; the highest in Northern Ireland.
It’s a trend that is not confined to the Western Trust, however.
Expenditure on private ambulances has risen across every health authority in Northern Ireland, though to a lesser extent than in this area.
Across all Trusts expenditure was up from £459,000 to £1,234,000 during the five year period.
The Health Minister Jim Wells outlined the “expenditure on private ambulances in each Health and Social Care Trust in each of the last five years” in response to an Assembly Question tabled by East Londonderry MLA Claire Sugden.
“The increase in expenditure reflects increases in hospital admissions, attendances, transfers and discharges,” the Health Minister explained.