Department for Health, Social Services and Public Safety draft budget 2015-16

The Department for Health, Social Services and Public Safety have published their draft budget for 2015-16.
PDF icon DHSSPS Draft Budget 2015-16102.87 KB

You can access the DHSSPS draft budget at this link or, download the document to the right. A summary of the key points is given below.

A consultation event has been arranged for 16 December at 3pm in NICVA to discuss the DHSSPS budget with departmental officials. Please click here to register.

The deadline for responses to DHSSPS is 29 December 2014.

Summary of DHSSPS Draft Budget 2015-16

Resource budget: £4,693.1m (3.3% increase)

Capital budget: £213.4m (£10m of which Financial Transactions Capital - FTC)

The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety is the largest department in Northern Ireland in terms of the size of its budget (the resource budget comprises 47% of the Executive resource spending). In addition to the general health service, DHSSPS also has responsibility for personal social service, community and social care, the fire and rescue and the Public Health Agency (PHA).

A large amount of the department’s spending is in aid of statutory services – that is, they are legally required to provide them. This leaves less room for manoeuvre, even within a large budget.

The Department’s key spending areas for 2015-16 are:

Resource (including £117m of ring-fenced resource expenditure)  £m
Hospital Services 2,582.5
Social Care Services 870.6
Family Health Services - General Medical Services 245.4
Family Health Services - Pharamaceutical Services 45.4
Family Health Services - Dental Services 538.5
Family Health Services - Ophthalmic Services 102.9
Health Support Services 22.4
Public Health Services 135.0
Paramedic Services 60.7
North-South Body - Food Safety Promotion 2.5
Fire & Rescue Services 78.2
Additional net funding 2015/16 150.5
Total Resource Expenditure 4,810.6

Around 63% of resource spending is committed to contractual obligations (which includes wages and salaries). The Department states that:

Cost reductions need to focus on non-contractually committed areas and also changes to policy which could restrict expenditure.

Despite the 3.3% increase in resource allocation there are increases in pressures in the Department’s budget (e.g. inflationary and service requirements). The Department has identified £164m for potential savings to meet this outstanding amount:

Savings Opportunities and Cost Reductions  £m
Cash releasing efficiencies and productivity gains in Trusts  113
Prescribing/Family Health Services efficiencies 20
Departmental and ALB savings opportunities and budget reductions  31
Total opportunities/reductions 164

“Efficiency and productivity gains” in the Health and Social Care Trusts (HSCTs) include reducing acute beds through better management and shorter stays, fewer cancellations and reducing the level of review appointments. There are proposed reforms to social care, pay restraint, estate management and improvements in staff productivity to realise savings. The matters covered are indicative targets at this time. Detailed savings proposals will be worked out with the Trusts in January 2015.

The Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme (PPRS) will be used to realise efficiencies in prescribing and Family Health Services.

In order to protect front line services the Department states that it has written to its Arms-length Bodies (ALBs) to identify the impact of potential cuts to their budgets of 5%, 10% or 15%.

The document states that £110m in planned improvements to a wide range of health services will have to be shelved as they are now unaffordable. This may have knock-on effects of deterioration in other services and waiting times. The resources that Northern Ireland will receive (£41m in 2015-16) as part of the Chancellor’s announcement of £2bn extra spending on the NHS in England is at the discretion of the Executive to allocate, therefore it does not necessarily have to be allocated to DHSSPS.

On the capital side of spending, there is a shortfall of £50m in the Department’s proposed minimum allocations (excluding FTC). As a large amount of this allocation is contractually committed (such as hospital improvements), this means that there will be likely delays of three to six months in other high priority projects (such as the RVH Children’s Hospital) and the shelving of new projects indefinitely (e.g. Antrim and Causeway Phase 2 development).

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