Work on two Belfast hospitals, one for women and the other for children, will not start for another seven years, health minister Michael McGimpsey has said.
He told the Northern Ireland Assembly that, while health spending represents a large chunk of the overall budget, there is not enough funding for the hospitals.
He said: “The budget profile has a major trough from 2013 to 2016 that can only be described as the ‘Valley of Death’, during which there’s virtually no funding to start any major projects.
“It is nothing like enough, and the way that it comes as far as the profile is concerned isn’t serving our purposes or anything like it. The level of funding is insufficient to meet demands.
“If I could I would build the women and children’s (hospitals) tomorrow; I would launch it right now if I could. The funding isn’t available.”
An extra £250 million would be needed to allow the development within the 10-year investment strategy period.
The women’s hospital is due for completion in the financial year 2017/2018, and the children’s in 2021/22. Programmes like developing the Ulster and new centres in Omagh and Enniskillen are ahead of them in the queue.
Copyright Press Association 2008