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IMO welcomes ‘significant’ announcement on hospital beds

By Reporter - 30th May 2024

The IMO has welcomed the plan to add 3,438 new beds to the public hospital system between now and 2031.

The plan was announced on 29 May by Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly and Minister for Public Expenditure, NDP Delivery and Reform Paschal Donohoe.

Speaking in response, Prof Matthew Sadlier, Chairman of the Consultant Committee of the IMO, said:

 “This is a significant step forward and we welcome it.  But three things are now critical. Firstly, this commitment must be honoured in full and on schedule.

“Secondly, the Government needs to move with urgency to secure planning permissions, prepare for the required building works and prepare for the recruitment of the medical and support staff necessary to ensure that these beds can be used effectively.

“Finally, this must be part of a larger programme to address the shortfall of 5,000 beds that exists in the public hospital system.”

While Prof Sadlier acknowledged the scale of the investment required, he warned that there is a need to change how we investment in the health services is viewed.

“The reality is that our population is both increasing and aging, and medical care is improving as are patient outcomes.  If we want to be able to provide highest standard care to patients in all parts of the country, budgets are going to have to continue to increase simply to keep pace with demand.”

 Prof Sadlier also noted that the new beds announcement, which focus on acute, maternity and children’s services, did not include psychiatric services where there is also a bed crisis.

Meanwhile, the HSE also welcomed the announcement.

The CEO of the HSE Mr Bernard Gloster said:  “We are in the process of being reshaped into a community-focused health service, better designed to deal with the greater level of ongoing support for people with chronic conditions. In that model there will still be a need for more and better acute hospital services, designed to provide short periods of often intensive and complex acute hospital care.  The beds plan … will help us to meet this need.”

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