Significant progress has been made in the ten months since the start of the COVID 19 pandemic in relation to the funding and provision of additional hospital beds. The Programme for Government, Our Shared Future, commits to continuing investment in our health care services in line with the recommendations of the Health Service Capacity Review and the commitments in Project Ireland 2040.
The Health Service Capacity Review 2018 found that the net requirement in combination with health system reform is for an additional 2,590 hospital beds by 2031 (2,100 inpatient, 300 day case and 190 critical care). The National Development Plan provides for the addition of the full 2,590 beds by 2027.
The Department of Health is working with the HSE to increase acute capacity in hospitals throughout the country to meet this and other health demands. Government allocated €236 million revenue and €40 million capital expenditure as part of Budget 2021 to fund additional acute beds on a permanent basis. This funding will provide, by the end of 2021, an additional 1,146 acute beds (excluding critical care beds). As part of this, over 400 beds, opened in 2019/2020 on a temporary basis, will remain open on a permanent basis.
In addition, a proportion of these 1,146 beds are being provided as part of the HSE’s Winter Plan 2020/21. The Winter Plan aims to provide additional health service capacity across a range of services. Initiatives comprise additional acute and community beds to increase acute capacity, help reduce admissions and facilitate egress. The HSE has reported that 388 of these beds had opened by 27th January. This represents a significant step towards achieving the recommendations in the 2018 Health Service Capacity Review.
I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly as soon as possible with further information in relation to the staffing of these beds.