Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Health David Cullinane TD has urged the Minister for Health and the Government to fund and deliver the much needed 1,500 hospital beds promised.
He said the failure to fund the beds in Budget 2024 was a disaster and that this year cannot be a year where the health service stands still. He added that significant progress is necessary on bed delivery, digital transformation in health care, elective only hospitals, the National Children’s Hospital and investment in primary and community care.
Teachta Cullinane said:
“Budget 2024 was a disaster for the health service. It failed to provide sufficient funding for the health service even to stand still and starves the health services of new funding to progress reform and deliver better patient care.
“The Minister repeatedly promised to deliver 1,500 rapid build beds with some of those beds to come on stream this year. However because of the reckless decision not to provide the necessary funding these beds are now in doubt.
“The Government must immediately provide the capital funding to progress these projects. The HSE have advanced plans in place and can deliver quickly if the funding is forthcoming.
“Hospitals across the state are under continuous pressure and need more bed capacity as well as additional surgical theatre and diagnostic capacity.
“The Minister also needs to secure additional funding to scrap the recruitment embargo. The HSE recruited on average over 6,000 net additional staff each year over the last 3 years. The recruitment ceiling for this year is just over a third of that with a maximum target of 2,200.
“This means that crucial posts and the recruitment of nurses, doctors, health care assistants and radiographers as well as much needed staff in the community to manage older patients and people with chronic pain will now not happen without additional funding.
“2024 cannot be a year where the health service stands still because this Government decides to throw in the towel on advancing health care reform. We need real delivery in acute hospitals, in primary and community care as well as major steps forward in digital transformation of our health services, elective only hospitals and delivery of the new regional health areas.
“Unless additional funding for health for 2024 is forthcoming then the much needed additional hospital beds and community beds needed will not be delivered and clinical programmes will be starved of new investment.
“I will continue to put pressure on this Government to do what is right, lift the recruitment embargo, deliver the beds promised and progress the reforms needed to enhance patient safety and better health services.”