Between 3,200 and 5,600 additional hospital beds will be required in public hospitals by 2030 to meet the demands on the health system.
That is according to a report by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), which claims that the Government’s National Development Plan commitment to increase public acute bed capacity by 2,600 in the years to 2027 may not be sufficient to meet demand out to 2030.
This figure was taken from the Government’s Bed Capacity Review published in January. However, the review pointed out that the figure could rise to 7,000 if the HSE is not reformed.
Researchers at the ESRI found that, between 2015 and 2030, an additional 4,000 and 6,300 beds will be required in public and private hospitals combined. This represents an increase in bed numbers of between 26% and 41%.
“These large projected increases in demand for hospital beds are primarily driven by the effect of large projected growth and ageing of the Irish population in the coming years,” states the report.
Between 3,200 and 5,600 of these additional beds are projected to be required in public hospitals, while 780 and 1,200 additional hospital beds will be required in the private hospital system by 2030.
The ESRI said the findings mean the Government’s commitment to an additional 2,600 beds to 2027 may not be enough to meet the demands on the system.
“These findings suggest that the Irish Government’s National Development Plan commitment to increase public acute bed capacity by 2,600 in the years to 2027 may not be sufficient to meet demand out to 2030,” it said.
The ESRI points out that increased investment in bed capacity “will require related investment in the workforce”.
The report said: “Current issues in terms of recruitment and retention of medical staff in the public health system particularly need to be addressed as a part of the wider need to increase bed supply.”
At present, the hospital system does not have enough hospital beds to meet demand for care adequately, it said.
When measured against other OECD countries, Ireland has a low supply of hospital beds and records the highest rate of patient bed occupancy at 95%.
The expected rapid growth and ageing of the population in Ireland is projected to increase demand for hospital care further, meaning that, in the coming years, there will be an even greater need to increase the number of available hospital beds, according to the report.