Belfast Telegraph

NI spend is higher than in England

By Adrian Rutherford

At least £75 more is spent on health per person in Northern Ireland than in England.

The Department of Health told auditors its annual expenditure worked out at £1,975 per head of population.

That is nearly 4% more than England's figure of £1,900.

We are also top-heavy with managers and admin staff compared to other regions in recent years. We had more non-clinical staff than elsewhere – proportionally 42% more than England – yet fewer nurses and midwives than Scotland and Wales.

The variances were detailed in a 2012 report by the National Audit Office (NAO) which compared the health service in all four regions. Although two years old, it provides the most recent directly comparable figures.

The report said that on average £2,106 was spent on health for every person in Northern Ireland in 2010/11 compared to £1,900 in England, £2,017 in Wales and £2,072 in Scotland. However, the details were rejected by the Department of Health, which told auditors that spending on health services was lower due to an error in disaggregating spending between health services and personal social services.

Applying the department's revised figure for 2010/11 shows that spending per person was £1,975 – below Scotland and Wales – but still £75 more per person than England, where there has been no repeat of the ministerial ultimatums seen at Stormont.

Health spending in 2010/11 totalled £3.79bn. The £140m cuts Edwin Poots is being asked to make equate to around 3.7% of that total. The NAO report also showed how the amount spent on health per person here has overtaken that for Wales and Scotland in the last 15 years.

Auditors found Northern Ireland had proportionally more non-clinical hospital staff than the rest of the UK.

The number of non-clinical staff employed in hospitals here in 2009 was 42% higher than England (855 compared with 604 staff per 100,000 people). It was higher than Scotland (797 per 100,000) and Wales (747 per 100,000).

In terms of medical staff – nurses, midwifery and health visitors – we had 1,003 per 100,000 people, more than England's 846 per 100,000. However, in 2009 we were lagging behind Scotland (1,124 per 100,000) and Wales (1,052 per 100,000).

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