Government's claim of 1,500 new beds in Winter Plan dismissed as a 'wish list'

Government's claim of 1,500 new beds in Winter Plan dismissed as a 'wish list'

The government have been criticised for their description of "new beds" in their Covid Winter Plan.

The plan states there will be 830 new acute beds, 63 critical care beds and 484 new sub-acute beds.

During Leader's Questions, Labour leader Alan Kelly grilled Minister Eamon Ryan on why the HSE had listed beds already in place as new.

"The Government is saying there are 1,500 new beds. 

"A total of 830 new acute beds were announced but 409 of these are actually already in place," he said.

"Similarly, some 63 new critical care beds were announced but 45 are already in place. That means only an extra 18 beds. 

"The announcement states 484 new sub-acute beds are coming but really 395 of these are already in place, so in fact there are only 89. 

"The Government is saying 1,500 new beds will be delivered as part of this winter plan, which covers from now until April. Actually, when we add it all up, there are only 528 new beds. Why is the Government announcing 1,500 beds?

"These are the figures that were broken down at the Government's own press conference this morning."

Eamon Ryan said that this was a "technical issue" and "the key to it is this broader strategic approach to how we address Covid, implement Sláintecare and use the flexibility that has come from the Covid period to manage the winter period with these additional resources.

"My understanding is that will provide some 900 more acute beds and 50 critical care beds. I am confident that the system, as it has shown in the past six months, will be able to be flexible and adapt as needs be, depending on what numbers are required in the bed capacity.

"I think it is better to be more honest. If the Deputy puts a series of questions to me about the data, and if I do not have the specific data to hand or in my mind, I prefer to say I will come back to him."

Mr Kelly said it was obvious Mr Ryan "does not have a clue."

Likewise, Sinn Féin said the plan falls "far short" of what is necessary.

"The government is only proposing 251 additional beds before the end of the year," said health spokesman David Cullinane.

"We know we also need at least 50 ICU beds, the government are only proposing an additional 17, they have no targets whatsoever in their plan in relation to staff.

"We know that at least 2,500 frontline staff will be necessary to open the beds which are needed, but also to take pressure off the existing staff who are absolutely stressed because of the very difficult and challenging time they've had over the last while.

"Their plan is a wish list. It's short on targets, we need urgent capacity, we need at least two and a half thousand beds.

"1,100 of those beds need to come on stream now and if they don't come on stream, and I think we're going to have a very, very difficult winter ahead."

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