'Serious Questions To Answer' Over Health Service Capacity Anomalies

The Minister for Health, Simon Harris, has "serious questions to answer" over anomalies in Health Service Capacity Review.

Speaking after questioning the authors of the 'Health Service Capacity Review' in the Oireachtas Health Committee, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Deputy Louise O'Reilly said the Minister has serious questions to answer over the litany of anomalies within the review and its scope.

"One of the stated aims of the bed Capacity Review was to determine and review current capacity in the health system," she said.

"The Minister for Health stated to me on numerous occasions that one of the tasks of the review was to determine the overall capacity and where the capacity was.

"However, upon questioning the authors of the report today as to where the beds that had been closed in the health service over the past decade were located, the authors stated that they did not investigate that and were not given instruction to do so.

"This is a ludicrous state of affairs. The reason the capacity review was so anticipated was that it was believed it would identify the location of closed beds which could be targeted for opening in an effort to reduce the number of patients on trolleys and allow for additional patients to be admitted and reduce waiting lists.

"The 2007 Service Capacity review, which was carried out by the same consultancy company as this review, outlined that at that point there were 11,660 public beds in public hospitals, but the 2018 Service Review returned a number of 10,500 beds – a decrease of 1,160 beds in our hospitals over the course of a decade.

"The Minister needs to outline where these beds are. It is a complete dereliction of his duty to not know the status and location of these beds after 2 years in the job as Health Minister. 

"He also needs to explain which the fundamental issue of bed closures was not included in the scope of the review?

"Furthermore, the Minister also needs to state why workforce planning was explicitly excluded from the Capacity Review when the report was tasked with an overall assessment of future capacity requirements for the period 2017 – 2031 at a national and regional level. 

"You cannot plan for future capacity and need separate from workforce need and workforce planning.

"There are serious anomalies regarding the Health Service Capacity Review 2018 and the Minister for Health needs to state the reason for these inconsistencies and why the authors were not instructed to carry out a full review of capacity which must include beds and staffing implications."


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