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Eighteen intensive care unit beds remained unopened in 2017 despite funding allocation

The annual national census of adult critical care bed capacity measured capacity as at 30 September 2017. 

The census, published on the HSE website recently, reports a capacity of 240 adult critical care (Level 3 ICU and Level 2 High-Dependency Unit) beds. 

Following resource allocation in the HSE National Service Plan 2017, approval by Minister for Health Simon Harris and implementation of the critical care nursing workforce plan, Career Pathway, there was an increase of seven ‘hub’ ICU beds across Ireland. 

“However, the 2017 census also reports an additional 7.5 per cent of adult critical care bed capacity, or 18 adult ICU beds, remain ‘funding allocated, non-operational’,” according to the report. 

“To solve this problem, the critical care nursing workforce planning working group of each Hospital Group and hub hospital is now facilitating the implementation of the national critical care nursing workforce plan, Career Pathway, to recruit nursing graduates to permanent, pensionable, full-time staff nurse posts, immediately on graduation, to receive standardised and accredited critical care nursing postgraduate specialty certification education and training.” 

At the end of last year, the Medical Independent reported that intensive care capacity in Irish public hospitals could not currently accommodate a mass casualty incident, according to the Clinical Lead for the HSE Critical Care Programme, Dr Michael Power. 

Dr Power made the declaration in a report to HSE senior management in June 2017. According to Dr Power’s report, “it is not feasible to plan for a mass casualty incident (MCI) response, given this decreased ICU capacity”. 

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