Government plans to deliver 4,367 acute beds by 2031

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The Acute Inpatient Hospital Bed Expansion Plan, which aims to deliver 4,367 acute hospital in-patient beds by 2031, was announced by Health Minister, Stephen Donnelly and Minister for Public Expenditure, NDP Delivery and Reform Paschal Donohoe, at the end of May.

The Government said this included 3,352 new beds, with the location of these new beds mapped across the six regional health areas.

“The 3,352 new beds include 2,997 net additional beds, plus 355 replacement beds (see table below for detailed breakdown). These new beds are in addition to the 1,015 beds already under construction or previously committed to, (see table below for detailed breakdown.

“The Plan delivers on the Minister for Health’s commitment to ensure balanced regional bed capacity and to ensure patients across Ireland have equity of access.

“Today’s announcement follows an unprecedented investment in healthcare capacity under this government. Since 2020 an additional 1,218 inpatient acute beds have been opened, representing the largest expansion of public acute hospital capacity in the history of the Health Service.” 

The Government said this new Plan was informed by HSE modelling and a site-by-site assessment, as well as ongoing work by the ESRI. “Excluding beds that have already opened, this represents a total planned capacity increase of 3,438 net additional acute in-patient beds and 929 replacement acute inpatient beds over the period 2024 to 2031.”

Health Minister, Stephen Donnelly said, “I initiated and developed this Plan as I recognise that we need to increase our bed capacity to meet the healthcare needs of our growing and ageing population. Delivery of this Plan will result in the equivalent bed capacity of six large hospitals opening and will be a gamechanger for patients and healthcare workers.” 

“This plan, coupled with the significant increase in bed capacity already delivered under this Government, demonstrates our commitment to invest in hospital bed capacity and plan appropriately for the future.   This Plan will be delivered alongside ongoing investment in community care, as well as a strong focus on improving efficiency and productivity across the health service.

“I am very grateful to Minister Donohoe for the additional capital funding which provides confirmed NDP allocations for the additional beds to be delivered by the end of 2026. We expect funding to be provided under the next National Development Plan to deliver the remainder of the beds due from 2027-2031.”

Minister Donohoe said, “It is clear that the investment this government has made in health has delivered demonstrable progress. Notably, waiting lists have fallen for the past two years. The average number of patients on trolleys is also falling and many of our hospitals have made enormous progress. We recognise that demand for healthcare is increasing and that we must plan appropriately for the future. We also recognise the need for more reform and I welcome the strong focus on this from Minister Donnelly.”

The Government said the new planned allocation was detailed in the table below, as were beds already delivered by Government and beds that had already been committed to/are under construction.  

 Net AdditionalReplacementTotal
Delivered since 2020 under this Government1,218N/A1,218
Already Committed/Underway35474[1]  1,015
NCH & NMH87500[2]
New Planned2,9973553,352
Total 2020- 20314,6569295,585

The Plan refers to inpatient beds. It does not include day beds, rehabilitation, subacute or other specialist beds, which have their own plans.