Budget Bill: Second Stage

Part of Executive Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 7:45 pm on 9th February 2016.

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Photo of Maeve McLaughlin Maeve McLaughlin Sinn Féin 7:45 pm, 9th February 2016

I thank the Member for his intervention. Indeed, as we move radically to reform the delivery of our health system, we need to do so on the basis of targeting the need that exists. It was very apparent, and I am conscious that I am also a member of the Education Committee, that the responsibility for delays in processing special educational needs assessments lay at the door of the health trusts. There needs to be a direct intervention.

I want to make a number of comments in concluding. The system needs radical reform, and we very much welcome the Minister's reform agenda in that regard, but we need to get the meat on the bones. We need to get a sense of what that clear, costed, time-lined action plan will be. The real issue in the delivery of our health service is where current spend goes. There is a huge debate, and I do not think that anybody in the Chamber or beyond could, hand on heart, say that current spend is having the right or maximum outcome, so a radical reform agenda is needed.

We need to look at the opportunities that the streamlining of commissioning will bring. We need to appeal to the Minister's better judgement in and around the better GP prescribing programmes, which have been well documented in the Audit Office reports. We need to stop wasting public money on legal cases, over the ban on blood donations from members of the gay community, for example.

Finally, we need to look at the genuine removal of clinical excellence awards: £55 million has been paid out in the last five years, at a time when we cannot pay an extra 1% to our front-line nurses. There needs to be a radical overhaul of how we deliver health, and we in our party are up for that challenge and for the political leadership required to deliver.