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The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has published a Stormont budget for 2023-24, delivering £7.3bn in non-ring-fenced funding for the Department of Health. This falls short of the funding needed to boost existing service levels and deliver much-needed health and social care transformation in Northern Ireland.

Responding to the budget, Craig Harrison, Policy and Public Affairs Manager for Carers NI, said:

This health budget will fill unpaid carers with dread. The health and social care system is on its knees and the funding being provided to the Department of Health in today’s budget is unlikely to be sufficient to improve that dire position and respond to growing demand, never mind delivering the reform so desperately needed. We’ve seen consistently that when the health service doesn’t have the resources it needs, more and more pressure is heaped on unpaid carers to cover the gaps, and there’s a very real prospect of that happening yet again as a result of this budget. That would drive carers to levels of breaking point and exhaustion even higher than those we're already seeing every day.
These public spending allocations should be being made by local Ministers based on local priorities, not the NIO. There is support for delivering a better deal for unpaid carers from parties in every corner of the Assembly, but that won’t translate into meaningful change so long as the chairs around the Executive table remain empty. Having the institutions back won’t solve all of our problems overnight, but it is an irreplaceable step in creating and funding the health and social care system that patients and their unpaid carers here deserve."


Notes to editors

  1. Health service leaders estimate that funding for the Health and Social Care system in Northern Ireland needs to increase by around 6% per year to meet inflationary uplifts, address inescapable demographic demand and other pressures to maintain safe services. See page 5 of the following briefing from the HSC Chairs’ Forum:
  2. According to the 2021 Census, there are over 220,000 people providing unpaid care for a sick or disabled family member or friend in Northern Ireland. Over 30% are providing 50 hours or more of unpaid care per week.
  3. In Carers NI's 2022 State of Caring survey, one in five carers described their physical health as bad or very bad and one in four said the same about their mental health. 40% of carers hadn't had a break in the previous 12 months. Survey report available at:
  4. Carers NI is Northern Ireland’s membership charity for unpaid carers. We work to represent and support the over 220,000 people in Northern Ireland who provide unpaid care for ill, older or disabled family members or friends – fighting for increased recognition and support for all carers and to ensure they have a voice in policymaking.
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