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. The National Development Plan 2018-2017 provides for the full 2,600 beds over its lifetime.
Over the past 18 months, an additional 241 beds have been opened nationally.
The HSE Winter Plan includes the opening of an additional 75 beds in early 2019, including 5 acute inpatient beds in Letterkenny University Hospital. The plan also seeks to ensure that the health system is as prepared as possible for the increase in demand on services over the winter months, within existing capacity and financial parameters.
Further to that, the National Service Plan 2019 provides for the preparation of 202 additional beds, to be operational in Q1 2020, including 15 inpatient beds in Letterkenny University Hospital.
In relation to the Deputy's query on the recruitment of staff, as this is a service matter, I have asked the HSE to reply to the Deputy directly.