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Expansion of all-Ireland Health Agenda could drive down cost differential

26 July, 2005

Sinn Féin health spokesperson John O'Dowd MLA commenting on the publication of the HPSS Schedule of Reference Costs showing the average, highest and lowest unit costs for each relevant service or grouping and a database showing the average unit cost of individual services for each Trust has said that cutting the number of Health Trusts and crucially an expansion of the all-Ireland Health Agenda could drive down cost differentials and produce significant savings that could lead to improvements in service provision.

Mr O'Dowd said:

"This report shows that there are obviously clear differentials arising between various heath Trusts in relation to the costs of providing hospital and community services. Certainly, when you have a situation where one Trust can provide an individual unit service at almost half the cost of the same individual unit service provided by another Trust, then there are questions which needed to be answered in relation to ensuring the presence of effective financial monitoring and management controls.

"More importantly, these differentials in costs demonstrate the amount of money which could be saved by the health service as a whole through the creation of proper economies of scale.

"The Review of Public Administration is widely expected to advocate a reduction the number of health Trusts in the Six Counties. The resultant increase in the greater economies of scale created should see service costs reduced and a more uniform level of costs introduced.

"The expansion of this economy of scale to cover all of the island, through joint North/South commissioning of services, joint purchasing of medication and drugs, as well as joint delivery of services, could create major savings which could then be re-invested in the health service throughout Ireland. Such a move would have a huge positive impact and would ensure that money is directed towards where it is most needed - on patient care and health promotion." ENDS

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