Expenditure per head of population varies by more than £200 between Northern Ireland's community trusts, health minister Bairbre de Brun revealed last week.

South and East Belfast Community trust spends the largest amount, at£540 per head, while neighbouring integrated acute and community Down Lisburn trust spends just£329 per person.

Ms De Brun said Northern Ireland's health and social services boards had responsibility for ensuring equitable expenditure across the population.

'The department allocates funding to the health and social services boards using a capitation formula, which is designed to allocate resources fairly between boards taking account of differential need, ' she said.

Down Lisburn Health and Social Services trust said it had been pressing for equitable funding in the Eastern board area and had discussed concerns with the Department of Health last month.

A spokesperson said: 'At present, the trust has calculated it has been around£1.5m and£2m short, which could rise to as much as£4m next year.'

Meanwhile, as the Holy Cross Primary School dispute in North Belfast appears close to resolution, North and West Belfast Health and Social Services trust appealed for extra cash to cope with the impact of sectarian strife on staff and communities. A report conducted by the Institute of Conflict Research, published by the trust last week, highlights the extra costs of delivering care in the area and called for financial allocations to reflect the impact of the 'Troubles'.

Caring through the Troubles . North and West Belfast Health and Social Services trust.

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