Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland set for boost of £600m from NHS funding increase

Prime Minister Theresa May has announced additional funding for the NHS (Steve Parsons/PA)
Prime Minister Theresa May has announced additional funding for the NHS (Steve Parsons/PA)

The health service in Northern Ireland is set to benefit from around £600m extra funding a year in real terms by 2023.

It comes after an announcement from Theresa May that the NHS is set to get an extra £20bn a year leading up to that date.

Northern Ireland's funding is based on its population share of just over 3%.

The DUP's Simon Hamilton said the announcement was a "hugely welcome boost for our National Health Service".

"With this extra spending power, Northern Ireland now has the opportunity to improve health outcomes for our people and create the NHS that they deserve. Achieving that aim will be best achieved by having a locally elected, locally accountable Health Minister working alongside Executive colleagues at Stormont," he said.

It is expected tax and borrowing will rise to pay for the increase in funding.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Mrs May also said funding would come available from money which will no longer be sent to the European Union, referring to a "Brexit dividend".

Ahead of a major speech on the issue on Monday, Mrs May added: “As a country, we need to contribute a bit more in a fair and balanced way. We will listen to views about how we do this and the Chancellor will set out the detail in due course. To deliver, this plan must be about more than money. ”

The figure tops the controversial £350 million a week increase promised by the Leave campaign during the referendum.

The move comes as Mrs May faces another turbulent week in Parliament on the Brexit front with Tory rebels again threatening to defy her over how much influence MPs will have over any withdrawal deal.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who backed Remain in the referendum, wrote in the Sunday Telegraph that the extra NHS funding “can now unite us all”.

Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “The NHS is in crisis after eight years of Tory cuts and privatisation. Today’s announcement confirms that Theresa May has failed to give the NHS the funding it needs, and much of the funding announced today is based on wishful thinking.

“Labour would have invested nearly £9 billion extra this year in the NHS and social care, while asking the wealthiest and big corporations to pay their fair share of tax. Theresa May could have announced this but chose not to. She won’t stand up to vested interests and is instead asking patients to rely on a hypothetical Brexit dividend.”

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