Health: Transforming Your Care
Edwin Poots (DUP)
I very much welcome the fact that a number of bids were met, including £10 million to deal with outstanding surgery and the backlog that has existed for a considerable period. I am delighted that we have made huge progress in the past year in some areas concerning outpatients, such as endoscopies, for example. We have made fantastic progress in reducing the backlogs that existed there, and we want to work very hard on doing likewise in surgery and in ensuring that people receive prompt responses to their care. I am very glad that that has happened.
I think that the Finance Department’s case is reasonable. It has established £30 million funding for an invest-to-save initiative. We, along with other Departments, are entitled to bid for that, but we are entitled to do so only when we have ensured that we have made the savings that need to be made in our Department. That is a course of work that I will continue to engage in. It is not about cutting front line services. In fact, last year, we had more nurses employed than we had in the previous year. So we have not been running about, cutting front line services. Let us dismiss that; let us deal with that myth. We have been working every hard on ensuring that waste that exists within the £4·5 billion budget is reduced, and I think it would be morally wrong for us in the Department of Health to continue to say that we want more money but not deal with the waste where it exists. Anybody who says that waste does not exist within a budget of £4·5 billion is living in a world of delusion. Waste is still taking place in the health service. We have not got to it all, and we need to continue to work on it. I look to Members to assist us in identifying that waste, and I will certainly respond to it where it is identified.