HSE eyes hundreds of additional acute beds, says Minister

Harris attends meeting of health professionals in bid to avert winter trolley disaster

The Health Service Executive is looking to add 600 additional acute beds between now and the end of next year to help tackle the trolley crisis, the Minister for Health has said.

The HSE is also keen to make 270 residential beds available for elderly people to help meet rising demand.

Simon Harris on Tuesday attended a meeting of nurses, doctors and patient advocacy groups on preparing emergency departments (EDs) for the winter in an attempt to avoid overcrowding.

He told the meeting the HSE has asked for the additional beds to be front loaded to help ease capacity problems. The meeting heard suggestions about what could be done in EDs and in the area of unscheduled care as requested by the Emergency Department Taskforce, which was established to examine ways to alleviate hospital overcrowding. Suggestions arising from the meeting will be considered by the taskforce when it convenes at the end of September.

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“I was greatly encouraged by the innovations and efforts of front-line staff on how to make things better for patients,” said Stephen McMahon of the Irish Patients’ Association.

“Developing services in the community so that people don’t have to go into hospital to get simple procedures like catheters inserted, or injections, will help tackle the issue of overcrowding.”