Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Questions (127)

Carol Nolan


127. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Health the reason new beds announced in the winter plan have not been opened at the Midlands Regional Hospital, Tullamore. [5867/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As Minister for Health, I recognise that hospitals are increasingly operating at or above capacity, with year-round demand pressures that are further challenged over the winter months. It is against this background that the Health Service Capacity Review 2018 recommended an increase in acute hospitals beds of over 2,600 by 2031 to support the projected increase in demand for services in the years ahead.

Increasing capacity is therefore a priority for the Government. Over the past 12 months, an additional 240 beds have been opened.

The HSE's National Service Plan for 2019 provides for a comprehensive capacity programme for 2019. The main elements of the programme are:

- 78 additional beds are scheduled to come on stream in 2019, including the 40-bed modular build in South Tipperary General Hospital and the 30-bed ward in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Drogheda, 4 HDU beds in the Mater Hospital and 4 HDU beds in Cork University Hospital;

- 75 acute beds and 70 community beds are scheduled to come on stream in early 2019, as part of the Winter Plan 2018/19;

- Preparation of 202 beds, of which 16 are critical care, during 2019, with a view to bringing this extra capacity into operation in the first quarter of 2020.

As the Deputy will be aware, the Winter Plan came into effect on 1 December 2018 and will continue until 31 March 2019.

Of the 75 acute beds to be opened as part of the Winter Plan 2018/19, the HSE have confirmed that 40 beds have been opened to date and the remainder, including the 6 beds in Tullamore Regional Hospital are due to come on stream by the end of quarter 1 2019 as initially planned.