Belfast Telegraph

Health service wage bill cut urged

More could be done to cut the Department of Health's annual wage bill of more than £2 billion, the DUP has claimed.

The party's Jonathan Craig said the £2.15 billion figure represented half of the department's huge annual budget of £4.3 billion.

But Health Minister Michael McGimpsey said most of the money covered the wages of frontline staff, with only a relatively small amount spent on management.

Mr Craig said: "The Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) takes half of the total Northern Ireland budget every year and regularly argues that staffing costs are the lowest in the United Kingdom. I am not so sure that he is doing everything he can to protect frontline services whilst he stands over and defends lucrative management costs."

The Lagan valley MLA added: "The minister is overseeing a very important department which many rely upon, regularly or in an emergency. The NHS is a lifeline. Yet people are waiting on trolleys in accident and emergency departments across the province on a bed, many are also waiting days if not a week or more to see their GP or local nurse."

But a spokesperson for the department said: "This figure is costs paid directly by the department for all health and social care staff.

"There are around 70,000 staff employed in the health and social care service including: home helps, doctors, nurses and care workers.

"The overall management costs are around 3% of the total DHSSPS budget which equals around £120 million in salary costs.

"This department remains the only one to have completed the Review of Public Administration under which the number of senior executives has been reduced from 188 to 80 - a reduction of 57%."

Mr Craig said: "The cost of staffing needs to be reduced and efficiencies made. do we need all these different managers earning five, sometimes six-figure sums when frontline staff and services are crying out for extra resources?"

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