Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health, David Cullinane TD, has said that an urgent step-change is needed from the Government to tackle the severe shortage of hospital beds, and to reform the health service to reduce pressure on hospitals.
Teachta Cullinane called on the Minister for Health to secure additional capital funding to deliver 1,500 beds to tackle the current shortage.
He said these are needed to address the deficit across hospitals, which is driving overcrowding, cancellation of planned procedures, and long emergency department waiting times.
Teachta Cullinane said:
“Our hospitals are 1,000 beds short and need at least 300 beds a year on top of this to keep up with population growth and our ageing population. These figures are evidence-based and set out in a recent ESRI report.
“The Government is dithering while thousands languish on trolleys every month.
“An urgent step-change is needed to up the pace of delivery. It has taken the Government three years to deliver just 1,000 beds, when they needed to deliver 2,000.
“Since then, the Minister has promised another 1,500 rapid build beds. Where have they disappeared to? We have heard nothing about these beds since the disastrous budget.
“3,000 additional beds are needed by 2030. 1,500 of them are urgently needed to tackle overcrowding, stop the wholesale cancellation of planned appointments, and reduce long emergency department waiting times.
“The longer that the Government waits to fund these beds, the worse the problems will get. A serious change of pace is needed to, on the one hand, tackle the severe shortage of hospital beds, and on the other hand to deliver community reforms to treat patients closer to home and reduce pressure on hospitals.
“That must include ramping up home care, delivering the statutory home care scheme, investing in GP, beefing up primary care centres, expanding the number of nurses, therapists, and allied health and social care professionals, enhancing the role of pharmacy, and delivering elective hospitals.”