It costs about €325,000 in construction and capital costs alone nowadays to provide an additional hospital bed.
That's according to a confidential submission drawn up by the Department of Health for the new Oireachtas committee looking at the future of the health service. It says that "based on current tender returns and space standards, the construction costs of a replacement hospital bed is in the region of €325,000, not including equipping costs".
As a rule of thumb, it adds, annual ongoing revenue costs of operating an additional hospital bed run to €78,000 per year. However, the full ongoing cost can depend on the type of bed provided – intensive care unit, coronary care or high dependency facility, or general ward.
The Department of Health report also indicates there will be relatively little money available to spend on new hospital facilities or equipment outside of a half-dozen “big ticket” projects. While capital spending in health is set to increase significantly – from €344 million in 2016 to nearly €500 million in 2021 – the vast bulk will go to five or six large-scale developments. “It is estimated that five priority projects will require circa 75 per cent of the annual allocation over three consecutive years when all five are under way.”
Among the projects are the national children’s hospital, the new central mental hospital, the new national maternity hospital, radiation oncology facilities for cancer patients and primary care. A sixth priority accommodation for older persons and people with a disability.