Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform Dara Calleary TD has criticised Minister for Health Simon Harris for failing to put in place a funding plan to deliver additional bed capacity in hospitals.

Deputy Calleary has called on Minister Harris to outline a funding plan to increase bed capacity in the health service each year to achieve the recommendations contained in the Bed Capacity Review.

Deputy Calleary said, “It’s shocking that Minister Harris didn’t have the foresight to recognize that additional funding is needed to deliver more beds in Irish hospitals. The Minister knew that the Bed Capacity Review would be published imminently, and he would have been aware that the broad recommendations contained in it would have been for additional beds to be provided.

“Despite this the Minister failed to secure extra funding for hospital beds in Budget 2018. He has not outlined what discussions he had, if any, with the Department of Finance regarding additional funding for hospital beds. There is already a €346m black hole in the Health estimates as identified in the HSE Service Plan which will make the delivery of extra beds without additional funding impossible.

“The lack of planning for the provision of extra beds is indefensible. Experts have been calling for additional bed capacity in our hospitals to tackle the overcrowding crisis. The Bed Capacity Review was established to determine the extent of this additional bed requirement. It was never going to recommend a reduction in beds, so Fine Gael’s failure to put in place a funding plan in advance of it’s publication is shocking.

“Minister Harris must set out a detailed funding plan to immediately provide additional bed capacity in hospitals. This plan needs to detail the additional funding being provided in 2018, 2019 and each year thereafter to achieve the recommendations contained in the Bed Capacity Review.

“Fine Gael have to get real about delivering additional capacity in our hospitals. We know that demographic change means that there will be more and more demand placed on our health service in the years ahead. Additional capacity is needed to ensure all people get the care they need,” concluded Deputy Calleary.