The provision of just 480 acute beds over three years under the HSE's Capital Plan was greeted with extreme disappointment by hospital consultants.
Secretary-general of the Irish Hospital Consultants Association Martin Varley said the National Development Plan, published in February 2018, promised 780 acute beds between 2019 and 2021.
The IHCA's pre-budget submission calls for the earlier delivery of the additional 2,600 acute beds promised in the NDP rather than waiting until 2027.
“So already we are not front-loading, we are back-loading," said Mr Varley.
"We are delaying putting the additional acute hospital beds in place that you need to bring down the waiting lists and to actually treat people on time.
“That's extremely disappointing, even though it is a step in the right direction,” he said.
He was concerned that the delivery of beds would not have the impact it should have on current waiting lists.
It's worrying that if we have abandoned 300 acute hospital beds already, a year and a half into the NDP, then the signs are not encouraging for the delivery of all 2,600 promised under the NDP.
The Irish Medical Organisation said the investment in health services' infrastructure was welcome but that the Government must also act to address the consultant recruitment crisis.
IMO president Dr Padraig McGarry said the Government must match the €2bn investment in health services' infrastructure with an investment in critical medical staff.
The IMO's #FightForFairness campaign links the recruitment and retention crisis to the Government's decision to “slash” the pay of any consultants appointed after October 2012.
The IMO has sought urgent talks with Health Minister Simon Harris to address the recruitment and retention issue.
It points out that the HSE recognises that consultants appointed after October 2012 are paid 32% less than their colleagues with the same qualifications and responsibilities.
The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland welcomed the Government's commitment to develop three new hospitals to deal with waiting lists.
RCSI president Kenneth Mealy said separating acute and elective care was the most effective way of providing greater capacity for elective surgery in the hospital system and reducing waiting lists.
“We are very pleased that the HSE Capital Plan includes a commitment to develop three hospitals to tackle waiting lists,” said Mr Mealy.
The additional capacity would mean that far fewer elective surgeries - important surgeries and not optional for the patients involved, would be cancelled at times of high pressure.