The Health Service Capacity Review published last year indicated that there was a need for a major investment in additional capacity in both hospital and community beds, combined with reform of the manner and the location of where health services are provided.
As set out in Sláintecare, moving care options for patients closer to their homes and into their local communities is a key part of the solution. In addition, there is a need to further develop community services to meet the increasing demand, which is placing additional pressure on hospital services.
Steady progress is being made in increasing bed capacity with the number of available inpatient beds expected to increase to above 11,000 following the investment planned in the National Service Plan 2019.
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;
- 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 is due to be completed in November 2019 and operational in Quarter 1 2020.
- Preparation of 202 beds, of which 16 are critical care, during 2019, with a view to bringing this extra capacity into operation in Q1 of 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.
The National Service Plan for 2020 is currently under consideration by the Department.