A £30 million cash injection to tackle hospital waiting lists has been announced by the Department of Health.
The money will be used to target inpatient and outpatient lists with priority given to urgent cases and the longest lists, officials have said.
The money will come from the £100 million “transformation” fund made available as part of a confidence and supply agreement between the DUP and Conservatives.
Richard Pengelly, Department of Health permanent secretary, said: “To deliver transformation, we also need to increase public trust in the system and relieve some of the pressure on our staff.
“The Delivering Together and Bengoa reports both endorsed ‘stabilisation’ through reducing waiting lists. Today’s announcement is an important step towards that goal.”
However the senior civil servant cautioned that further investment in the ailing health service was still needed.
Mr Pengelly added: “The long term answer to waiting times and other major challenges remains transformation of the health and social care system. However, recognising that the transformation vision represents a 10-year agenda, we must also acknowledge that immediate action is needed on our unacceptable waiting times.
“The current waiting times are a consequence of rising demand for services set against an outdated health and social care system that is no longer able to meet this demand.
“Transformation means organising our services more effectively – delivering more in primary care settings and reforming hospital services.”
Theresa May’s government has pledged £100 million a year over the next two years.
Details on how the rest of this year’s allocation will be spent have not yet been made public but proposals are likely to include investment in elective care centres – stand-alone day surgery units; supporting innovations in hospitals; the development of enhanced primary care services in GP clinics; initiatives in staff training, social care and countering diabetes.
A cross-party group of MLAs were briefed on the investment plans at Stormont on Thursday.