Irish Medical Organisation

New IMO President warns that 2,500 additional hospital bed target is insufficient

Friday 6th April 2018. The new President of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has warned that the 2,500 new hospital beds target will be insufficient to meet demand.  Dr. Peadar Gilligan was speaking at the IMO AGM in Killarney. 

The Health Service Capacity Review was published in January of this year.  That document suggested that a minimum of 2,500 additional beds were necessary over the coming years.  It was based on an analysis of demographics and demand out to 2030.

Dr. Gilligan – who is a Consultant in Emergency Medicine at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin – said that the 2,500 figure was a minimum figure which was based on a “set of generous assumptions” which were unlikely to be fulfilled.  The review makes clear that the figures proposed assume that various other initiatives including a major programme of investment and reform will occur at the same time as the additional beds are brought on stream.

Dr. Gilligan said there were no grounds for confidence in the ability of the Irish political system to successfully introduce the sector wide reforms necessary to support the 2,500 figure; “our experience teaches us that we have to assume that the reforms required to support the 2,500 additional bed figure will not be met.  Sláintecare is less than a year old and already crucial commitments have been missed.”

Dr. Gilligan said that for investment and planning purposes, the Government should use the higher end target of over 7,000 additional beds; “we cannot afford to lose the next five years preparing for a target of additional beds which is simply too low.  We need to be realistic and begin to plan on the basis of the upper end of the range of additional bed requirements set out in the capacity review not the minimum.  Planning for the worst while hoping for the best is the wisest course of action in healthcare.  Planning on the basis of best possible outcomes is unwise and risks on-going patient hardship.”

Dr. Gilligan also warned that as additional beds were brought on stream, the shortage of Consultants in the system would become more acute; “we have a Consultant recruitment crisis as it is.  We need a comprehensive plan on how we are going to train, recruit and retain the hundreds of additional Consultants that will be required to support the patients being treated in these additional beds.”


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