Covid-19: NI health service to get £175m for more PPE

Covid-19: NI health service to get £175m for more PPE

The NI Executive has agreed how to allocate £226.5m in funding, including £190m which is going to the Department of Health.

Finance Minister Conor Murphy said the allocations included £175m to purchase additional personal protective equipment (PPE).

He said this will “ensure the continued protection of front-line health workers leading the fight against Covid-19”.

After Wednesday’s allocations, there is still about £250m yet to be allocated.

More than £15.2m of capital allocations will fund the purchase of medical equipment across cardiology, urology and radiology specialisms, and help procure licenses for digital health technology.

Aside from health, £27m is being allocated to support students as per an announcement last week.

Some £9m is being allocated to the Forest Service and £42,000 of capital funding is being allocated to the Commission for Victims and Survivors.

“I continue to discuss funding flexibility with Treasury and expect to carry forward any further funding provided into 2021-22,” said the minister.

“However, Treasury have advised this will not include flexibility in relation to the funding received before Christmas.

“It is therefore important this £200m is now made available for reallocation,” he added.

Mr Murphy reinforced his calls to his executive colleagues to come forward with bids to use the £250m that has not yet been allocated.

He said: “I continue to urge executive ministers to bring forwards proposals to use available funding, particularly for those who to date haven’t received support.”

Health Minister Robin Swann has welcomed the reallocation, which was made possible after the Treasury waived budgeting rules for Covid PPE stock this year.

Mr Swann said: “The changes made by the Treasury will allow my department to spend £175m in this financial year on PPE supplies that can be used in the 2021/22 financial year.”

Consumables such as PPE are normally counted as expenditure as they are used. The concession in relation to Covid PPE will allow stocks of PPE to build and to overlap financial years.

The minister continued: “The move by Treasury will allow my Department to spend the money in the 2020/21 financial year to boost supplies for later use.”

He said it would be “significant” in dealing with the cost consequences of the pandemic.

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