Thursday, 18 November 2021
Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate
I thank Deputy O'Donnell again for raising the important matter around University Hospital Limerick and capacity. The health service capacity review 2018 was clear on the need for a major investment in additional capacity in both acute hospitals and community, combined with a wide-scale reform of the manner and location of where our health services are provided. In January 2020, 795 additional beds have been provided on a permanent basis, over the number available at the end of 2019.
The programme for Government, Our Shared Future, commits to continuing investment in our healthcare services, in line with the recommendations of the health service capacity review and the commitments in Project Ireland 2040. It is accepted a key part of the solution for Limerick is additional beds. The new 60-bed modular ward block at the university hospital is a significant step, but I heard the Deputy's comments on its current use. This ward provides modern, single-room, in-patient accommodation and improved infection prevention and control capabilities, as well as patient flow throughout the hospital. This follows the completion last year of two separate rapid-build projects delivered under the Government's national action plan in response to Covid-19, which provided an additional 38 inpatient beds on-site at UHL.
Furthermore, Project Ireland 2040 includes the provision for a 96-bed replacement ward block at UHL. The project is currently out to tender with tenders due to be returned in late January 2022. The tenders received will then be evaluated and it is anticipated the works contract will be awarded in early quarter 2 of 2022, subject to HSE board approval and funding availability. The Department and the HSE will continue to work with local hospital management to further improve patients' experience in UHL. I will bring Deputy O'Donnell's further comments to the attention of the relevant Ministers.