Written Answers. - Health Board Finances.

Ivan Yates

Question:

115 Mr. Yates asked the Minister for Health if he will outline the amount of money health boards are withholding from creditors; the amount of the overdraft of each board at that same time; the reason cheques are being printed by the health boards but not released for up to two to three months later; the actual deficit carry over in real terms from one financial year to the next; the way in which the shortfall will be met; and if his attention has been drawn to the fact that some health boards are waiting up to six months for payments on invoices.

The level of overdraft and the value of cheques held by the health boards at 14 December was as follows:

Health Board

Over- draft

Held cheques

£million

£million

Eastern

4.4

10.2

Midland

0.7

3.9

Mid-Western

0.5

2.5

North-Eastern

1.4

1.7

North-Western

1.4

0.8

South-Eastern

2.1

5.1

Southern

4.0

4.7

Western

1.6

4.6

Total

16.1

33.5

The timing of the issue of creditors payments is a matter for each individual agency to decide. It should also be noted that in considering the above figures the amount outstanding to creditors on any particular date is related to the timing of payments rather than an indication of its overall financial position. I presume the Deputy is referring to the position in respect of 1990 in relation to deficits. I will not be in a position to supply this information until the final allocations for 1990, in respect of each board, are determined and the actual expenditure incurred has been established. Any excess expenditure will be a charge against the 1991 allocation of the agency concerned.
I am not sure what information the Deputy is seeking in the final part of his question. I am not aware of any major problems in respect of payments for invoices being delayed for six months, though this may have happened in a small number of cases where a query arose on a particular invoice. In relation to the question generally the Deputy will be aware that an extra £9.749 million is being provided to improve the cash position of health agencies this year.