State needs to spend ‘up to €10bn on healthcare upgrades’

Doctors call for investment to bring infrastructure up to adequate standards

An additional 290 intensive care unit beds are needed, the Irish Hospital Consultants Association has said.

Doctors have said the State needs to invest up to €10 billion over the next four years or so in additional hospital beds, facilities and equipment to bring healthcare infrastructure up to an adequate standard.

The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) said at a minimum 4,000 additional hospital beds were needed to provide an internationally acceptable standard of care in Ireland.

“These additional beds are required urgently given the exponential growth in waiting lists for hospital care, the unacceptable and growing number of patients being treated on trolleys, and the cancellation of essential surgical appointments arising from the bed deficits.

“The capital cost of each new bed is €1 million, producing a total estimated capital cost of approximately €4 billion for the required additional bed stock.”


The Government originally earmarked investment of about €3 billion in its current capital plan which runs until 2021.

Midterm review

However, the consultants’ organisation maintained that as part of a scheduled midterm review, the level of funding should be substantially increased.

It suggested that investment of between €6 billion and €10 billion would be needed to bring health service infrastructure up to an acceptable level.

In a submission to the Government on its midterm review of the capital plan, the IHCA argued that an additional 290 intensive care unit beds were also needed.

“The capital cost of providing one intensive care unit bed is estimated to be €1.25 million at a minimum producing an estimated capital cost of approximately €360 million for the required additional bed stock.

The IHCA also said an additional complement of 500 rehabilitation beds at an estimated capital cost of €500 million was required nationally for trauma and non-trauma disability.

It said increased capital investment was required across the entire hospital infrastructure in terms of the essential equipment that is required for the timely delivery of patient care.

It said the failure to maintain and replace essential acute hospital equipment over the last decade had “serious implications for patient care”.

“The HSE indicated that €2.25 billion would be available in the capital space between 2017 and 2021 but that this would not meet the €3.64 billion that will actually be required for priority replacements,” the IHCA submission stated.

The consultants’ organisation also argued that urgent investment was required to address the inadequate outpatient clinic capacity across the entire acute hospital infrastructure.

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is the former Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent