Extra beds alone 'will not end hospital trolley crisis'
The trolley crisis will persist if additional hospital beds which have been recommended for the system are not used in a more effective way, the authors of a major report have warned.
The report by PA Consulting calls for 2,590 more hospital beds by 2031.
It comes as the trolley crisis worsened again yesterday as 526 patients were left waiting for a bed across the country.
The worst-hit were University Hospital Limerick with 63 patients on trolleys while 43 faced long delays in Cork University Hospital.
Stephen Smyth of PA Consulting told the Oireachtas Health committee yesterday that if reform of how the beds are used is not implemented they will "block up in the same old way".
He said: "The report sets out the landscape.
"Continuing with the current model of care, which is he baseline scenario, will see demand exceed capacity by over 7,000 hospital beds by 2031."
Members of the committee warned the additional beds will not bring the relief needed to patients if they are not properly staffed.
Mr Smyth said: "The scope of the review did not extend to a comprehensive workforce capacity assessment.
"One will be needed to assess the rate at which capacity in various parts of the system could be brought into service."
Several beds have been unable to open this winter because of a shortage of staff.
PA Consulting said there was insufficient data available within the timescales of the review to forecast beyond the demand for beds and examine the need for specific hospital facilities such as operating theatres and CT scanners.
These would need to be picked up at the next stage as more detailed planning and designs for new facilities are developed.