Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Assembly: Health service to receive extra £72m

Surgeons Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Health accounts for about half of Stormont's departmental spending

The Northern Ireland health service is to receive an extra £72m to help deal with pressures in the service.

Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir made the announcement as part of a reallocation of funds known as a monitoring round.

He said that when added to the last monitoring round it means the executive has allocated an additional £200m to health in 2016/17.

Health accounts for about half of Stormont's departmental spending.

Last week, Health Minister Michelle O'Neill said her department needed "significant additional funding" to meet growing demand.

When asked on Tuesday if any of the money would be allocated to waiting lists, Ms O'Neill said she "would make her decisions on the allocations of the additional resources as soon as possible within the next few days".

Analysis - BBC News NI health correspondent Marie Louise Connolly

So how will the money be spent?

At this stage there is little detail. However, from the health minister's statement it seems that the money will go directly to unscheduled care which includes emergency departments.

It will also be directed to those areas within hospitals which often experience bed blocking - when patients cannot be discharged as there is nowhere for them to be cared for in the community, including in their own homes.

Read more.

Other reallocations include £30m to schools with £5m of that for special educational needs.

There is also £25m for roads maintenance and building schemes and £20m for further education.

Mr Ó Muilleoir said there have been no new spending cuts despite pressure on budgets "as a result of the Westminster austerity agenda".

A large slice of the money which has been reallocated is £30m which had been set aside to mitigate cuts to tax credits.

However, the money is no longer needed for that purpose after the chancellor reversed his plan to cut tax credits.

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