February 7, 2022
Government falls 40% short on 2021 hospital beds promise – David Cullinane TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health David Cullinane TD has called on Minister Donnelly to publish a multi-annual waiting list reduction plan, with timeframes and targets to address the waiting list crisis in public hospitals.

Teachta Cullinane made the call after a PQ response revealed that Government delivered 40% less hospital beds than what they promised in Budget 21.

The Waterford TD said:

“The waiting list reduction plan had been nearly finalised before the Sláintecare resignations in September 2021 and should be ready for publication.

“This plan is needed urgently, along with the HSE’s 2022 Service Plan, to ensure delivery of promised hospital capacity.

“The Government are falling far short of their hospital bed targets – of the 1,146 inpatient beds promised in Budget 2021, less than 700 were delivered.

“It is a huge failure that 40% of the hospital beds – 458 acute inpatient beds and associated staff – promised were not delivered by the end of the year.

“Some of the funding for these beds – which were to be 100% acute inpatient beds – has been reprofiled for 118 sub-acute beds.

“Only 688 inpatient beds have been delivered since 2019 – over two years – and no additional funding was provided for acute inpatient beds in 2022.

“The investment promised in ‘beds’ means more doctors, consultant-led teams, surgical theatres, and diagnostic capacity to tackle waiting lists.

“Little of this supporting infrastructure has materialised and contractual issues with consultants have not been resolved – leaving 1 in 5 posts vacant.

“This is causing severe difficulty to hospitals stretched to the limit when emergency departments overflow.

“The hospitals with the worst emergency department crises – Galway, Limerick, Cork – have the highest waiting lists. That is no coincidence.

“University Hospital Waterford simply do not have the physical space to hire more staff or increase capacity. They need a serious multi-year plan with funding commitments.

“The lack of progress on waiting lists was a cause of the Sláintecare resignations. Major IT reforms – unique patient identifiers, a centralised referral system, and an integrated waiting list management system, as well as eHealth systems – have not been advanced significantly and this also contributed.

“Lastly, progress on new accountability structures, Regional Health Areas, has faced resistance but these are key to giving hospitals funding certainty and autonomy to deliver major projects. They must be established to give strategic direction on a regional basis for addressing capacity deficits.”

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