Regarding the provision of additional bed capacity, my Department has engaged extensively with the HSE this year to identify mitigating actions to bring down trolley numbers and waiting times in the ED in the face of growing demand. Steady progress is being made in increasing bed capacity in the immediate term with the number of available inpatient beds expected to increase to above 11,000 following the investment in the National Service Plan 2019.
The Capacity Programme for 2019 includes the following increases in capacity, as per the National Service Plan 2019:
- The provision of 75 acute beds and 70 community beds under the Winter Plan 2018/19;
- 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. The 40-bed modular in STGH completed in November 2019 and operational in Quarter 1 2020.
- Commencement of works on a 60-bed modular ward in University Hospital Limerick. The enabling works are completed, the main contractor is currently on site, and construction is anticipated to be completed in mid-2020. Commissioning and equipping are scheduled to be completed in Quarter 3 2020.
- 24 beds at Our Lady of Lourdes Drogheda Ward Block & Theatre project;
- 24 additional beds at University Hospital Waterford;
The HSE Winter Plan 2019/ 2020 has been developed to prepare for and manage the anticipated service pressures this winter. As part of the Winter Plan 2019/2020, The National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) has agreed to support the funding of additional beds for three months over the winter period. This initiative will support the commitment by the HSE and my Department to alleviate winter pressures.
The Health Service Executive and my Department are currently engaged in a process to finalise the HSE Capital Plan for 2020. The HSE Capital Plan will determine the projects that can progress in 2020 and beyond having regard to the total available capital funding available. Regarding the National Development Plan 2018 - 2027, as is to be expectedwith a ten-year plan, many proposals are at early stages and, in line with the Public Spending Code, will require to progressthrough appraisal, planning, design and tender stages before a firm location, funding and timeline for delivery can be established.