At the start of the year, permanent adult critical care capacity in our public hospitals stood at 255 beds, according to the National Office of Clinical Audit. This included 204 Level 3 ICU beds and 51 Level 2 HDU beds. As part of the initial response to the pandemic, funding was provided for an additional 40 adult critical care beds in March 2020 as well as two paediatric beds. The HSE has advised that between 280 and 285 critical care beds are currently open, with the number open any given day subject to fluctuation in respect of available staff and other operational considerations.
As of 6.30pm, 22 November, there were 278 adult critical care beds open and staffed. 214 of these were occupied, including 31 Covid-19 patients. This compares with a peak of 160 Covid-19 patients in critical care in early April. It is important to note that the balance of Covid and non-Covid care is very different now to earlier in the pandemic, with the significant majority of patients in critical care being non-Covid patients.
Budget 2021 will allocate funding totalling €52m in 2021 to critical care. This will retain, on a permanent basis, the 42 critical care beds put in place on a temporary basis this year and add significant new capacity. Funded adult critical care beds will increase to 321 by end 2021, an increase of 66 over the baseline number of 255 funded beds in 2020.