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Only 54 out of 75 acute hospital beds open under winter plan

Some 54 acute hospital beds out of a target 75 have opened under the Winter Plan 2018/2019, according to Open Beds Report February 2019, published by the Department of Health last month.

Hospitals where all of the targeted beds opened were Cork University Hospital (five); South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital, Cork (three); Tallaght University Hospital (six); Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown (20); Galway University Hospital (four); Merlin Park University Hospital (four); University Hospital Limerick (old surgical assessment unit) (five); University Hospital Limerick (cardiology) (three).

However, none of the targeted beds were open in University Hospital Waterford (six); Midland Regional Hospital, Tullamore (six); and Letterkenny University Hospital (five).

Half of the targeted beds (four) had opened at St Columcille’s Hospital, Loughlinstown.

Under the winter plan, funding of €30 million (€10 million once-off in quarter 4, 2018 and €20 million in 2019) was provided to put in place more supports for older persons and to create some additional capacity for the system. 

Some 145 community, acute and rehabilitation beds were proposed under the plan, with 75 in the acute hospital system.

According to the Department, the purpose of the open beds report is to make information available on capacity in healthcare “in a transparent and accessible manner”. This report will be published on its website each month.

There was an average of 10,893 inpatient beds open during 2018, which was the highest number since 2010, outlined the report. This compared with 11,369 in 2010.

The Health Service Capacity Review 2018 recommended an increase of 2,590 acute hospital beds across the system by 2031 to support the projected increase in demand for services. The National Development Plan commits to delivering this number by 2027.

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