Prescription for Northern Ireland's health and social services - more funding and greater efficiency

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Northern Ireland's health and social care services would benefit both from large increases in spending and tougher incentives to improve efficiency, according to an independent study published today.

'The Appleby report' which was commissioned in December 2004 by the Northern Ireland Department of Finance and Personnel and carried out by The King's Fund Chief Economist Professor John Appleby, highlights three areas where improvements could be made:

  • A real increase in spending from £2.7 billion in 2002/3 to £6 billion by 2022/23 to take into account growing needs for health and social care in Northern Ireland
  • Efficiency improvements to reduce the performance gap between Northern Ireland and the UK as a whole especially in the following areas - waiting times, drug costs, and costs for hospital operations
  • Ministers should consider incentives being used in the English NHS such as introducing greater patient choice, hospital payment systems tied to the work they do and devolving some purchasing to General Practitioners.

Professor Appleby said: 'I am delighted to present this report which will shed considerable light on the ongoing debate about health and social service funding in Northern Ireland.

'It is in the interests of all – government, staff, and, most importantly, patients - that services are delivered in the most efficient manner possible.'

Notes to editors

1. For further information please contact the King’s Fund’s media and public relations office on 020 7307 2585 or 07831 554927. An ISDN line is available for interview on 020 7637 0185.

2. The Appleby Report is available here and in addition from the Kings Fund website.

3. Professor John Appleby has researched and published widely on many aspects of health service funding, rationing, resource allocation and performance. He previously worked as an economist with the NHS in Birmingham and London, and at the universities of Birmingham and East Anglia as Senior Lecturer in health economics. He is a visiting Professor at the department of economics at City University.

4. The King's Fund is an independent charitable foundation working for better health, especially in London. We carry out research, policy analysis and development activities, working on our own, in partnerships, and through funding. We are a major resource to people working in health, offering leadership development programmes; seminars and workshops; publications; information and library services; and conference and meeting facilities.