Health | Adequate supply of hospital beds and access to emergency departments
To ask the Minister for Health the extent to which he foresees an adequate supply of hospital beds and access to accident and emergency departments throughout the winter months notwithstanding the persistent threat of Covid-19; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Investment of €1.1bn was provided in budget 2021 to expand capacity, increases services and support reform and this level of investment has been maintained in budget 2022. 854 general acute beds have been added to the system since 1 Jan 2020 and a further 300 are funded for delivery over the remainder of 2022 and 2023.
Access to emergency departments was available to those who needed it throughout the pandemic and it will continue to be this coming winter.
I have personally witnessed the challenging conditions for patients and staff in emergency departments during recent hospital visits. I have requested that the HSE set out short-term immediate actions to alleviate the pressure on EDs and ensure that our hospitals are ready for winter.
I also requested the development of a longer-term plan for reform and improvement of unscheduled care, in line with expected increases in demand driven by population growth and an aging population. This plan will build on the substantial investment over the past two years in initiatives such as additional capacity, more staff, increased home care packages and greater GP access to diagnostics.
My Department and the HSE will continue to work together to develop a programme with a suite of longer-term actions to deliver systemic change to how unscheduled care is delivered.
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