Health budget a ‘major challenge’

Altnagelvin Hospital.
Altnagelvin Hospital.

Health Minister Simon Hamilton has acknowledged the final budget settlement for his Department in 2015/16 is “exceptionally challenging”.

“All Trusts, including the Western Trust, are facing a range of pressures in 2015/16, such as inflationary cost pressures, demographic pressures from an increasingly aging population and the pressures associated with new treatments and patient expectations,” he said.

“Work is ongoing with all of the Trusts, the HSC Board and other Arm’s Length Bodies to deliver balanced financial plans for 2015/16.

“At this stage, the Western Trust has plans in place to deliver over £10m of savings in 2015/16 and further work is taking place to identify any further opportunities.”

He added: “In such a constrained financial context, and given the obligation to live within budget whilst also meeting an ever increasing demand for HSC services, it is inevitable that there will be an impact on the pattern of delivery of some of our services.

“Nonetheless, I can assure you that maintaining the safety of services for patients and clients will remain my priority.”