Written Answers. - Hospital Bed Closures.

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

67 Mr. McCormack asked the Minister for Health the number and location of general hospitals throughout the country in which there are decommissioned beds at present, or which have wards closed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [997/94]

Brendan McGahon

Question:

118 Mr. McGahon asked the Minister for Health whether hospitals under the aegis of the various health boards have experienced any restrictions in operation, such as closure of wards of decommissioning of beds; if such actions have affected the operation of these hospitals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [999/94]

Paul Bradford

Question:

163 Mr. Bradford asked the Minister for Health the total number of beds decommissioned in the various hospitals in the Dublin area during the month of August 1994; whether all such beds are now recommissioned; whether the closures affected the provision of services at the hospital; if so, the extent of this; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the prolonged loss of such facilities can have a permanently damaging effect on the provision of services; the proposals, if any, he has to remedy such matters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [975/94]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 67, 118 and 163 together.

The total number of beds which were closed in the Dublin area during the month of August was 307, the equivalent of 5.8 per cent of the total bed complement. While these beds are now being reopened on a phased basis, Deputies will be aware that the closure of beds in August and indeed throughout the summer period has been part and parcel of the provision and organisation of hospital services throughout the country over many years. The seasonal closure of beds is generally planned to coincide with staff annual leave at a time when the level of activity has traditionally declined. It also provides hospitals with an opportunity to carry out much needed refurbishment work in wards and other accommodation. This work can of course extend beyond the month of August.
I should point out that in 1992 the average number of beds closed throughout the country during the period June, July, August was 934. In 1993 this figure was reduced to 530, representing a reduction of 43 per cent on the 1992 figure. In June, July and August of 1994, there was an average of 361 beds closed which represents a reduction of 32 per cent on the 1992 figure.
The latest information available to my Department on bed closures for the October-November period indicates an average of 201 beds closed nationally, for a variety of reasons as stated earlier. These closures are spread over 18 hospitals out of a total of 60 and amount to 1.6 per cent of all available acute beds.
I would like to assure the House that all emergency and urgent services continue to be provided and that my Department will continue to closely monitor the situation.