Short cuts

Published: 31/01/2002, Volume II2, No. 5790 Page 10

Northern Ireland health minister Bairbre de Brun has confirmed that more patients will be treated in NHS hospitals in England, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland in a bid to cut waiting lists.

But obtaining treatment outside Northern Ireland had to be balanced with maintaining appropriate levels of health services within the province, she warned.

She pledged to increase capacity in Northern Ireland hospitals, but called for more money from central government.

'I am happy, in principle, to draw on hospital services available elsewhere in the interests of patients, ' she said, and health and social services already 'make very good use of services in Glasgow, London, Dublin and other centres'.

She added: 'In doing so, of course, there is the issue of how that impacts on the overall financial resources available to services here. There needs to be an appropriate balance to ensure that services which people need are accessible and readily available.'

But with no extra money to increase capacity, and without the spare capacity to meet current levels of demand, Ms De Brun said 'we will not be in a position to prevent problems arising'.