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IHCA highlights growing Health Strategy concerns

13 Apr 2017

The IHCA increasingly fears the long-term health strategy for the Oireachtas Future of Healthcare Committee will not deal with the overwhelming shortage of hospital beds, operating theatres and intensive care beds, which are creating unacceptable delays for patients.

“Unfortunately, the net effect will be to further increase waiting lists if the capacity deficits are not addressed properly,” the Association has warned.

Over the past decade, the State had cut acute hospital capacity by 1,400 inpatient beds, when the population had increased by 500,000 over the same period. If these problems were not urgently addressed public hospitals would continue to fail patients, according to the Association.

Dr Tom Ryan, President of the IHCA, commented: “The root cause of the problems in our public hospitals is actually quite clear – there is not enough capacity in our public hospitals to effectively provide care to an increasing number of patients.”

Any realistic strategy must therefore significantly increase the number of consultants, acute hospital and ICU beds, as well as the operating theatre capacity, according to the Consultant in Intensive Care and Anaesthesia at St James’s Hospital, Dublin.

These were the main constraints, he added, causing the cancellation of surgical appointments and generating an “extraordinary increase” in waiting lists.

“Hoping to provide care to an increasing number of patients in the public health system without sufficient capacity does not represent a realistic strategy. It will only perpetuate and exacerbate the current unacceptable delays in treating patients. Unfortunately, the net effect will be to further increase waiting lists if the capacity deficits are not addressed properly,” he commented.

lloyd.mudiwa@imt.ie

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