ONLY nine extra Intensive Care beds have been provided nationally by the HSE in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, a local Dáil deputy has claimed.
Speaking during Leader’s questions in the Dáil on Wednesday, Deputy Michael McNamara recalled Ireland imported the idea of lockdowns from China. However, the difference is health authorities in China managed to build hospitals in 14 days in response to Covid-19.
The East Clare Deputy recalled the HSE’s Capacity Census last year showed ICU capacity increased from 255 to 280 from April to December 2020.
“At the end of last year, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly announced the government was going to increase ICU capacity to 446, of which 321 was supposed to be delivered by the end of this year.
“However, to this date this year, the HSE has only provided nine extra ICU beds nationally.”
He asked An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin what the government was doing to increase hospital ICU capacity.
Deputy Martin recalled funding of €52 million was provided in Budget 2021 to facilitate the construction of 66 permanent critical care beds to bring baseline capacity to 321 by the end of 2021.
“Baseline capacity at the start of 2020 was 255. The HSE has advised 41 of those 66 beds are now staffed and open on a permanent basis, bringing the national total to 296. But we want to get to 321.”
For all the billions of Euro that have been spent addressing the pandemic, Deputy McNamara warned the government has failed to build sufficient hospital capacity.
He pointed out the overall barometer is the number of people on trolleys, which is still at an all time high.
“Whatever money is being spent is not having the impact we need.
“There were 60 patients on trolleys in University Hospital Limerick on Monday, which is not good enough.”