Dáil debates

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate

Hospital Accommodation Provision

2:05 pm

Photo of David StantonDavid Stanton (Cork East, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I thank the Deputies for raising this important matter and acknowledge their knowledge and expertise in the area.

The Minister for Health acknowledges that attendances at emergency departments are growing year on year and that the health service capacity review indicates that Ireland has among the highest acute bed occupancy rates in the developed world. Deputy Harty is correct that it is widely agreed that an important part of the solution in Limerick is the provision of beds, other services and staff. In the past two winters an additional 25 beds were opened in Limerick, including eight as part of the winter plan last year. The new emergency department that opened in May 2017 provides modern, safe and fit-for-purpose facilities which meet the expectations of patients and their families, while at the same time providing high quality accommodation that better protects privacy and dignity. In addition, the new 60-bed ward block was established to provide a rapid build internal solution to the hospital capacity issue in response to the health service capacity review carried out by the Department of Health. University Limerick Hospital group has welcomed the commitment in Project Ireland 2040 to build a new 96-bed ward over the emergency department and a design team has been appointed for the project.

Improving timely access for patients is part of Sláintecare. Building on the progress made in recent years in the area, the Sláintecare action plan for 2019, published by the Department of Health, includes a specific work stream on access and waiting lists. In addition, many of the other service reforms and enhancements included in the action plan will support timely access to care for patients in the coming years. Progress has been made in implementing the Sláíntecare action plan access actions for this year.

We all acknowledge, including the Minister, that the challenges we face are significant. It is the Minister's firm belief, however, that all Deputies want to find the right patient-centred, evidence-based, results focused and sustainable solutions to the challenges facing the health service. Investment alone will not deliver the health service to which we all aspire, but neither will reform or productivity improvements on their own. All three actions, including the provision of additional capacity, as Deputy Harty pointed out, must be delivered in tandem if we are to stand any realistic chance of meeting healthcare needs in the coming decades.


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