As the Deputy will be aware, a comprehensive review of acute hospital bed capacity needs has been conducted by my Department in conjunction with the Department of Finance and in consultation with the social partners. The review titled Acute Hospital Bed Capacity – A National Review, which was published on 16 January 2002, helped to inform the Government in its decision to provide a total of 3,000 additional acute beds for public patients over the next ten years. This represents the largest ever concentrated expansion of acute hospital capacity in Ireland.
In tandem with the publication of the report, I announced the first phase of these additional beds with the commissioning of an extra 709 acute hospital beds at a cost of €65 million. My Department has been advised, by the ERHA and the health boards, that 148 of these beds have been commissioned and that an additional 85 beds will come on stream by the end of July 2002. My Department is further advised that the balance will be introduced on a phased basis over the coming months. The expenditure approved to date on the provision of these additional beds is €13.795 million.