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Time for debate on alternatives to health service

Published 29/06/2015

How effective would intervention by the British Medical Association be in respect to healthcare in Northern Ireland (News, June 24)?

In 1999, the Department of Health received £2.029bn and this has increased to £4.7bn during 2015-16, which represents an average growth rate of about 5.32% over those 16 years.

If this department's budget continues to grow at this rate, then in another 14 years it will consume some £9.974bn - the size of the current block grant under the Barnett Formula, which means Stormont will be reduced to a single department - Health.

This department's annual budget amounts to £6,033 per household (779,000), or £2,611 for each individual (1.8 million) here, which is on a par with the cost of private health insurance in the USA.

Perhaps it's time to have a debate about the alternatives available, particularly in light of the EU Cross-Border Healthcare Directive (CBD), which effectively means patients here are eligible to get treatment anywhere in the EU and be reimbursed by the health service.

At £6,000 per household per annum, we could probably afford to pay for the very best healthcare for patients and first-class air travel and still save money.

BERNARD J MULHOLLAND

Belfast

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