Northern Ireland

NI health service 'could save more' say government auditors

health service
Image caption The report said the Northern Ireland health service could be making greater savings

The Northern Ireland health service could be making greater savings, according to the latest government audit report.

However, the Department of Health said this was not possible.

While all the health trusts broke even, the audit office said that was because the Department of Health stepped in to bail two trusts out.

Management costs in the trusts are now £18m higher in cash terms than before the Review of Public Administration.

Even when they are adjusted to take issues like inflation into account, they are still £600,000 higher than in 2007.

The Audit Office said it would have welcomed greater savings. But the department said these could not have been made.

The report said two trusts had to be "bailed out". In 2009, Belfast needed £10.6m while by 2010 the Northern Trust needed an extra £23m.

Waiting lists have increased sharply.

In 2008, the Public Accounts Committee identified that the success in tackling waiting lists was, at least in part, due to funding additional treatments in private clinics which it warned could be unsustainable.

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