UKIP Leader in NI quizzes Minister on private health care costs to NHS and numbers helped. Mr. McNarry also raised the NI stillbirth rate
UKIP’s Northern Ireland Leader, David McNarry MLA, has asked the Health Minister during Assembly Question Time about the use of the private sector in helping to shorten waiting lists, how much the private sector costs compared to the NHS and on whether the levels of stillbirths in Northern Ireland was linked to lack of financial investment.
Replying, the Minister told Mr McNarry that while he realised there were some who criticised the use of private healthcare in delivering NHS targets, he knew that Mr McNarry who has in recent months called for private healthcare to be used to deliver NHS targets was not one of them. The Minister said that out of the £40 million additional funding recently injected into the NHS here, the private sector had been awarded 27,000 contracts for out-patient appointments, 8,000 plus contracts for in-patient contracts and that, without the additional capacity of the private sector over 30,000 people needing treatment wouel not have been treated.
Mr McNarry said that he believed the patients involved did not care who treated them as long as they received treatment. He further asked the Minister what cost difference there were, in any, between the costs of NHS in house treatment and the costs of bought-in private sector treatment?
The Minister said that people often spoke of the private sector ‘profiteering’ from healthcare but he posed the question – what is wrong with making a profit? The Minister said one important point that was often missed or ignored was that the private sector was not paid any more for an operation than it would cost to deliver from within the NHS. The Minister added that he hoped reform within the NHS would enable them to get closer to the operating efficiency levels of private health care which was currently difficult for the NHS because of the extensive pressures in the system.
Mr McNarry also asked if the recently reported high level of stillbirths in Northern Ireland was in any way related to lack of funding? The Minister replied by saying that stillbirths were always a tragedy for the people involved and needed to be handled with sensitivity. He added that what he described as a ‘contrived’ league table in the media, an many midwives had said, did not properly take account of Northern Ireland’s particular circumstances, especially in relation to terminations and abortion.