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Hospitals granted 190 extra beds in bid to tackle winter pressure

An initial tranche of 83 beds have been approved for opening.

Image: PA Wire/PA Images

AN EXTRA 190 hospital beds are to be opened up to alleviate pressure on overcrowded emergency departments.

Health Minister Simon Harris told the Oireachtas Committee on Health today that the HSE has reached an agreement with the National Treatment Purchase Fund to open up the beds over the coming weeks.

An initial tranche of 83 beds have been approved for opening at Letterkenny University Hospital, the Midland Regional Hospital Tullamore, Waterford University Hospital, Cork University Hospital, University Hospital Limerick and the Children’s hospitals in Dublin.

The minister said the National Treatment Purchase Fund has written to each hospital group and it is engaging with them to finalise the details of the additional capacity.

He also announced that the cost of attending Minor Injury Units will be reduced from €100 to €75, effective from next week.

There are 11 of the units dotted around the country and they are designed for the treatment of broken bones, dislocations, wounds and other injuries that are unlikely to need admission to hospital. 

Harris told the committee that the number of patients waiting for an inpatient or day case procedure fell to 66,594 last month compared with a peak of 86,100 in July 2017.

“This represents a reduction of over 23% in the overall number of patients waiting for a procedure,” the minister said.

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Figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation say that there were 597 patients waiting in hospital emergency departments and on wards in hospitals around Ireland this morning. 

This included 76 patients on trolleys in University Hospital Limerick, 57 in Cork University Hospital and 35 in Our Lady’s Hospital Navan.

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Ceimin Burke

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