Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Questions (413)

Michael Healy-Rae


413. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health if hospital capacity will be increased (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39810/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I wish to acknowledge the distress overcrowded Emergency Departments cause to patients, their families, and frontline staff working in very challenging conditions in hospitals throughout the country.

The Health Service Capacity Review published last year was clear on the need for a major investment in additional capacity in both hospital and community – combined with a wide scale reform of the manner and the location of where health services are provided.

Increasing capacity alone will not address the challenges faced, but on the basis of significant reform over the next 10-15 years, the report recommends an additional 2,600 acute beds by 2031. The National Development Plan provides for the full complement of beds by 2028 - 3 years ahead of schedule.

Since 2017, an additional 267 beds have been opened. The Capacity Programme for 2019 provides for the following increases in capacity, as set out in the National Service Plan 2019:

- The provision of 75 acute beds and 70 community beds under the Winter Plan 2018/19 – the HSE has confirmed that all the acute beds and 59 community beds have opened to date.

- 47 additional beds, including the 40-bed modular build in South  Tipperary General Hospital (STGH), 3 HDU beds in the Mater Hospital and 4 HDU beds in Cork University Hospital.

- 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.  

- Commencement of works on a 60-bed modular ward in University Hospital Limerick. 

Improving timely access for patients is at the heart of Sláintecare. Building upon the progress made in recent years in this area, the Sláintecare Action Plan 2019 published by the Department, includes a specific work stream on Access and Waiting Lists. In addition, many of the other service reforms and enhancements included in the Action Plan will support timely access to care for patients in the coming years. Progress has already been made in implementing the Sláintecare Action Plan’s Access actions this year.

Question No. 414 answered with Question No. 367.