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A total of €39.5 million is being allocated to the HSE’s National Equipment Replacement Programme in 2019, according to the HSE’s new capital plan, which has been published.
According to the Capital Plan 2019, which covers 2019-2021, the shortfalls in capital allocations for these programmes over the last decade and, particularly in 2018, when they were reduced by 50 per cent, have resulted in an increased backlog of unmet minor capital, equipment replacement and ambulance replacement requests.
“It is planned to increase the level of annual investment significantly to the sustainable level of investment and address the outstanding deficit in the remaining years of the National Development Plan as per the June 2016 Health Service Executive Report on the Equipment Replacement Programme. From a risk and patient safety perspective, these increases in allocations are critical,” according to the capital plan.
“It is also intended that this programme will have first call on any under spending on project in 2019.”
The ambulance replacement allocation is increased to €10.0 million in 2019.
“From 2020 on the annual allocation will be in line with the sustainable level of funding required in the current ambulance fleet. Some allowance will have to be made in future years for an expansion of the fleet.”
Overall, the capital plan provides for the spending of just over €2 billion on health capital projects from 2019 to 2021.
It includes over €1 billion on Government priorities new Children’s Hospital, National Rehabilitation Hospital, National Forensic Mental Health facility in Portrane and radiation oncology facilities in Cork, Galway and Dublin.
Over €335 million is being allocated for a wide range capital projects at individual hospital and primary/community facilities to provide modern health accommodation and equipment to improve and expand service provision.
The plan also commits to progressing three new hospitals to help reduce waiting lists, which has been welcomed by the RCSI.
“Separating acute and elective care is the most effective way of providing greater capacity for elective surgery in our hospital system and reducing waiting lists for the benefit of patients,” according to RCSI President Mr Kenneth Mealy.
“We are very pleased that the HSE Capital Plan includes a commitment to develop three hospitals to tackle waiting lists. It is important to remember that elective surgery is not optional surgery. These are important surgeries for the patients involved. This additional capacity will mean that far fewer elective surgeries will be cancelled at times of high pressure, such as every winter.”