The use of the private sector by the Western Trust for homecare provision has risen steadily over the past five years new figures released by the Health Minister Michelle O’Neill illustrate.
Back in 2011/12 the amount of money spent on direct in-house provision stood at £12,002,000, while the amount spent on independent or private providers was £12,179,000.
But last year £6,886,000 more was spent on independent or private providers than internal provision - £18,679,000 versus £11,793,000.
Between 2011/12 and 2015/16, £59,981,000 was spent on direct provision by the Trust while £78,373,000 was spent on private firms. That’s a £18,392,000 difference over the five years.
A breakdown shows that the differential between the two really stretched in 2014/15 when the gap rose to £5,592,000 and £11,927,000 was spent on direct provision and £17,519,000 on private firms. Before that - in 2012/13 and 2013/14 - the differential was in the two to three million pounds bracket.
The expenditure during each of the years was as follows: 2011/12, Trust (£12,002,000), Independent (£12,179,000); 2012/13, Trust (£12,015,000), Independent (£14,141,000); 2013/14, Trust (£12,244,000), Independent (£15,855,000); 2014/15, Trust (£11,927,000), Independent (£17,519,000); 2015/16, Trust (£11,793,000), Independent (£18,679,000).
Elsewhere across the North, the Belfast Trust consistently spent more on private provision as did the South Eastern Trust, whose independent sector expenditure dwarfed that of direct provision.
The Northern Trust, in contrast, consistently spent less on private provision, as did the Southern Trust, although its use of the private sector has been growing steadily over recent years.