The IHCA has called for the “urgent opening” of 2,000 additional inpatient/day-case hospital beds in its pre-Budget submission published today.
“We are working in historical unprecedented times,” the new IHCA President, Professor Alan Irvine told an on-line press briefing this morning, attended by the Medical Independent.
“These times for us, sit in the context of where we were before February 2020 with historical underinvestment in [hospital] capacity. Both in physical capacity and in human capacity to run [the system].
“In a very broad brush, we saw what we had to do in April and May just to keep the health service alive, we had to double our intensive care beds…and the way we really did that was to push out surgery and convert theatres and really we had to shut everything else down just to survive.”
The IHCA submission is also calling for the doubling of ICU capacity and opening 1,300 additional transitional intermediatory-care step-down beds before the winter to provide essential hospital care. The Association also said investment is also required to increase space in hospitals for social distancing in all services.
The IHCA also calls on the Government to “fill the 500 vacant permanent consultant posts without delay to urgently assess the 610,000 outpatients and treat the growing backlog of patients on waiting lists who need essential care”.
“This Budget must fund pressing acute hospital capacity increases for the winter and year ahead to deliver essential hospital care in a very challenging Covid-19 environment,” said Professor Irvine.
Professor Irvine, Consultant Dermatologist at Children’s Health Ireland was elected the IHCA’s new President earlier this month.
“What is needed in the Health Budget 2021 is to address the stark acute hospital capacity deficits, with clear, fully-funded and time-lined decisions to end the deficits failing our health system. This is not a time for promises or excuses, instead we need delivery on earlier commitments so our hospitals have the capacity they need,” said Prof Irvine.
“Prior to the pandemic, our health system was battling with significant consultant and capacity shortages, contributing to mounting waiting lists – a situation that left us vulnerable to a crisis like Covid-19.
“A return to ‘normal’ is not an option; we need a return to better. Waiting lists, trolley crises, under-staffed services must become a thing of the past not just to provide resilience in the system for any future pandemic – but to provide the timely and quality access to care that our patients need and deserve.
“Healthcare is an essential right and must not fall victim to the political bargaining and shifting of spending margins in budget negotiations.”
The IHCA also demanded the Government take urgent action to fill the 500 vacant permanent posts and expand consultant numbers.