No new beds have been approved for any hospital in the North West region as part of the HSE’s 2018 Service Plan.
The plan sets out how the HSE will spend it’s budget over the coming year.
However, the plan is already coming in for much criticism for failing to address the capacity issues especially for frontline services like Emergency Departments and GP surgeries.
Twenty-eight replacement beds at a new community setting in Cloonamahon for residents moving from Cregg House in Sligo are the only ‘beds’ mentioned for this region in the HSE’s Service Plan for 2018.
Sligo University Hospital has been sanctioned for a €1.2m to upgrade the boiler system.
Meanwhile, Letterkenny is getting €50,000 to upgrade its Central Sterile Services Department on the ground floor at the hospital.
But the capacity issues at either of those hospitals have not been addressed at all with no new beds to be opened.
Senior consultants such as Fergal Hickey in Sligo have consistently pointed out every year that capacity, i.e. not having enough beds, is the main reason for the long waits for people in trolleys in emergency departments.
Today again there are 25 people on trolleys in Letterkenny and 16 in Sligo.
Last January when challenged about the beds issue, the Health Minister Simon Harris defended the government response saying there are other solutions.
This is what he said last January:
But today the National Association of General Practitioners says nothing has been done to address the capacity issues as promised.
They state there is not enough funding committed to primary care and waiting times for their patients is a huge problem.
GPs say they are tired of apologising to their patients for an inadequate health system.
President of the Irish Medical Organisation, Dr. Ann Hogan, warns trolley numbers, waiting lists and the quality of care across the health service will all deteriorate next year despite an apparent rise in health spending:
But there is some good news.
Killybegs, Donegal, Carndonagh and Dungloe Community Nursing Units have been approved funding to buy and install x-rap equipment for the primary care service in the county.
Age Action Ireland has also welcomed the increased investment in homecare services.
While Nursing Homes Ireland acknowledged the increase in the Fair Deal budget.