IHCA response to Government’s new target of an additional 3,000 beds by 2031

By dara
Wednesday, 29th May 2024
Filed under: News, PressReleases, 2024

Hospital BedsCommenting on the Government’s new target of an additional 3,000 beds by 2031, the IHCA said:  

“In response to repeated, broken promises on hospital beds, the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) remains cautious regarding pronouncements of this nature, particularly as the delivery of additional inpatient beds is happening at too slow a pace.
“In April 2023, the IHCA cautiously welcomed the Minister for Health’s announcement of a rapid build programme to open 1,500 additional public hospital beds across 15 acute public hospital sites.[1] However, over a year on from this and we have yet to see any of these beds come on stream. We now seek clarification as to how the 1,541 beds due by the end of 2028 and the 2,997 beds due by 2031 announced today differ from those already promised in 2023, and urge the Government to provide the promised €1 billion capital budget to open these beds as indicated without delay.
“Additionally, the figure of 3,000 beds falls well short of the needs which will face the country by 2031.[2] That the Minister is publicly acknowledging that our bed capacity is way behind what is needed is notable in and of itself.
“The urgency of expanding hospital capacity is further reinforced by the Minister’s acknowledgement that the 2018 Capacity Review – which proposed an increase of just 2,600 acute public beds by 2031 – “lowballed” the hospital capacity needs. In the 6 years since the 2018 Capacity Review and National Development Plan, which committed to open 260 hospital beds per annum, only 1,182 additional beds have been added. This is almost a quarter (23%) behind the commitment.
“In addition, just two of the promised six national surgical hubs are likely to be open by the end of year, with the four elective hospitals not due to receive their first patients before 2027 at the earliest.
“While announcements of new hospital beds may be politically expedient in a year in which elections grow closer, it does nothing to address the chronic capacity shortages which are preventing the delivery of timely care across the country. At some point, the Government is going to need to start delivering on their promises to deliver, rather than kicking the can down the road, while the problem continues to grow. 
“To fully address the chronic lack of capacity, Government must stay focused on delivering the required beds, to reduce our bed occupancy rates, which are among the highest in the developed world at 95%, address the increased numbers of admitted patients being treated on trolleys, and reduce the cancellation of appointments and waiting lists.”
For information:
Darragh Duncan, FINN Partners, daragh.duncan@finnpartners.com / 085 121 5011

[1] Oireachtas Select Committee on Health, 19 April 2023.
[2]  Inpatient bed capacity requirements in Ireland in 2023: Evidence on the public acute hospital system, ESRI, 29 March 2023.


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