6. asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel what discussions he had with the Health Minister about the pressures in the health service, particularly the accident and emergency crisis, given that, in the recent in-year monitoring process, although the Health Minister bid for some £43 million for inescapable pressures, some £30 million was allocated. (AQT 726/11-15)
I have regular discussions with the Health Minister and Executive colleagues, not least when I put forward my January monitoring paper and the Executive gave £30 million to my colleague the Health Minister to relieve pressures that his Department was under. I am not satisfied that just £30 million was needed; I think that the pressures probably deserved more. However, given the situation that we found ourselves in and that we were trying to balance competing pressures that the Executive face, I do not recall the Minister for Regional Development, for example, putting his hand up and offering the Minister of Health any additional funding. We have to balance a whole range of pressures. I am glad that we were able to give the Minister of Health £30 million to spend on relieving pressures right across the health service, as we did in previous monitoring rounds. I will continue to support the Health Minister when he comes forward with bids to meet the inescapable pressures that he faces as a result of years of mismanagement in the health service that he, of course, inherited just two years ago.