Written answers

Thursday, 17 December 2020

Photo of Colm BurkeColm Burke (Cork North Central, Fine Gael)
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570. To ask the Minister for Health if consideration will be given to establishing a multi-annual programme of investment in 5,000 additional public acute bed capacity, including investment in standalone public hospitals for elective care and a doubling of critical care capacity to 550 critical care beds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44314/20]

Photo of Stephen DonnellyStephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Fianna Fail)
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The Programme for Government, Our Shared Future, commits to continuing investment in our health care services in line with the recommendations of the Health Service Capacity Review and the commitments in Project Ireland 2040. The Health Service Capacity Review 2018 found that the net requirement in combination with health system reform is for an additional 2,590 hospital beds by 2031 (2,100 inpatient, 300 day case and 190 critical care). The National Development Plan provides for the addition of the full 2,590 beds by 2027.

The Department of Health is working with the HSE to increase acute capacity in hospitals throughout the country to meet this and other health demands. Government allocated €236 million revenue and €40 million capital expenditure as part of Budget 2021 to fund additional acute beds on a permanent basis. This funding will provide, by the end of 2021, an additional 1,146 acute beds. A proportion of these beds will be funded as part of the HSE’s Winter Plan 2020/21.

At the start of this year, permanent adult critical care capacity in our public hospitals stood at 255 beds, according to the National Office of Clinical Audit. This included 204 Level 3 ICU beds and 51 Level 2 HDU beds. As part of the initial response to the pandemic, funding was provided for an additional 40 adult critical care beds in March 2020 as well as two paediatric beds.

In addition, funding totalling €52m was provided in budget 2021 for critical care beds. This will retain, on a permanent basis, the 42 critical care beds put in place on a temporary basis this year and add significant new capacity. Funded adult critical care beds will increase to 321 by end 2021, an increase of 66 over the baseline number of 255 funded beds in 2020.

This represents a significant step towards achieving the recommendations in the 2018 Health Service Capacity Review which found that an additional 2,590 inpatient beds were required by 2031.

Adding critical care capacity requires consideration of design and building timelines, disruption to existing services within the hospital, the on-site location of critical care facilities and the importance of maintaining relevant clinical adjacencies. Engagement has commenced between the Acute Hospitals Division, the Critical Care Programme and the Estates Division, and detailed assessments are underway in respect of each of the prioritised locations to determine the scope, scale and cost of the projects. The 2021 Capital Plan will include projects anticipated to complete in 2021 such as Phase 1 of a 112 bed development at the Mater Misericordiae Hospital, which is also expected to provide 8 critical care beds, and 12 critical care beds at Tallaght University Hospital.

Finally, in relation to elective care, the Elective Hospitals Oversight Group, chaired by Professor Frank Keane, is preparing the preliminary business case for new dedicated ambulatory elective only hospital facilities in Dublin, Galway and Cork. These will provide high volume, low complexity procedures on a day and outpatient basis, together with a range of ambulatory diagnostic services. Planning and scoping work has been completed and submission of the Preliminary Business Case is anticipated before end 2020.


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