Tuesday, 26 February 2019
Department of Health
374. To ask the Minister for Health when the construction of the modular unit of South Tipperary General Hospital will be completed; if the €7.5 million required to staff it has been allocated in budget 2019; if the recruitment process to staff the unit has commenced; the length of time the recruitment process will take; if the unit will be in a position to take patients by August 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9492/19]
As Minister for Health, I recognise that hospitals are increasingly operating at or above capacity, with year-round demand pressures that are further challenged over the winter months. It is against this background that the Health Service Capacity Review 2018 recommended an increase in acute hospitals beds of over 2,600 by 2031 to support the projected increase in demand for services in the years ahead.
Increasing capacity is therefore a priority for the Government. Over the past 12 months, an additional 240 beds have been opened.
A Capacity Programme for 2019 has been agreed, which provides for the following increases to capacity, as set out in the National Service Plan 2019:
-78 additional beds are planned for Quarter 1 of 2019, including the 40-bed modular build in South Tipperary General Hospital, the 30-bed ward in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Drogheda, 4 HDU beds in the Mater Hospital and 4 HDU beds in Cork University Hospital;
- 75 acute beds, of which 43 have opened to date, and 70 community beds to come on stream in 2019, as part of the Winter Plan 2018/19;
- preparation of 202 beds, of which 16 are critical care, by quarter 4 2019 with a view to bringing this extra capacity into operation in the first quarter of 2020.
Funding has been provided in National Service Plan 2019 to facilitate the opening of the modular build at South Tipperary General Hospital and the HSE advise that the project is at an advanced stage. In relation to the particular questions raised regarding the operational budget in 2019, the recruitment process for staff and the expected date the new unit will be open for patients, as this is an operational matter, I have referred the question to the HSE for direct reply.