Written Answers. - Health Funding Arrangements.

Ivan Yates

Question:

279 Mr. Yates asked the Minister for Health if he will outline the normal period for which payments are made to pharmacies through the GMS Board; if his attention has been drawn to cash flow delays of up to six months in some cases; and if he has any proposals to rectify the situation.

The position in relation to pharmacists' claims under the GMS scheme is that pharmacists who submit their claims to the GMS (Payments) Board by the 7th of a month are normally paid for such claims in the second half of the following month. I have had inquiries made from the GMS (Payments) Board and I understand that no cash flow problem in relation to a particular pharmacist or group of pharmacists which might stem directly from their involvement in the GMS scheme has been brought to the board's attention.

Ivan Yates

Question:

280 Mr. Yates asked the Minister for Health if he will outline the cash flow arrangement between his Department and the health boards; if he will review the method of payment to ease the cash flow problems of some health boards so that suppliers do not have to wait extensive periods for outstanding payments; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

The cash management system operated by my Department in respect of health boards is based on monthly profiles of the cash available from the Department. These profiles are linked to the approved level of expenditure and the bank position of health boards. They are structured so that agencies will know in advance what the cash availability will be for each quarter of the year. In addition, there are regular contacts with the boards on at least a weekly basis, to determine what payments are likely to fall due in the following week, and to make any necessary adjustments in the release of the available cash.

The Deputy will, however, appreciate that the total cash issued to the agencies must be consistent with the approved expenditure levels and cannot exceed the amount set out in the Estimates for my Department.