‘3,000 hospital beds needed to rebuild health service’

THE health service can never be properly rebuilt until the 3,000 acute hospital beds stripped from the system in the 1980s are replaced, doctors insisted yesterday.

The obstacle to progress was the deficit in capital spending that prevented the beds from being restored, the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) said. It said it was disappointed the chance to replace the beds had been missed in the Budget.

IMO president Christine O’Malley said: “Never have we had so much money and never has there been a clearer need to invest in the public health service.”

But, she said, problems in the health service would not be resolved by merely throwing money at them.

“Until multi-annual, ring-fenced funding can be applied in a planned, rational and appropriate way, the health service will continue to stagger from crisis to crisis. The cap on employment in the service has hampered a plethora of programmes but the real obstacle to progress is the deficit in capital spending which prevents the provision of 3,000 permanent, acute, in-patient, public hospital beds.”

She said that after the beds were cut by 29% the population grew 23%.

“The arithmetic is simple and, no matter what the politicians try to tell us, until the balance is redressed, the health service can never be properly rebuilt,” she said.

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