£200m paid to private care companies 'to keep NI health afloat'
More than £200m has been paid to private health care companies in order to keep the health service in Northern Ireland afloat, according to documents seen by the BBC.
Four years ago, the annual bill for private companies was £22m - however, last year that rose to almost £72m.
Ulster Unionist Ross Hussey has called for the Public Accounts Committee to investigate the figures.
"It's a lot of money and somebody has to start answering questions," he said.
Meanwhile, health unions, including the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and Unison, said they had been calling for this money to be invested in the system for almost a decade.
They said the money paid to private health care companies represented "quick fixes" that, in the long-term, is more damaging to the health service.