Govt won't commit on UHK beds

Dáil debates the lack of hospital beds following Kerry A&E strike

Simon Brouder

In the wake of last week's strike by nurses at University Hospital Kerry's Emergency Department, the Government says it has no immediate plans to increase the number of beds at the hospital.

INMO members took to the streets last week to demand 43 extra beds at the hospital to ease 'intolerable' overcrowding at the Emergency Department which accommodates an average of 17 patents a day on trolleys.

In the Dáil on Thursday Sinn Féin Kerry TD Martin Ferris quizzed Junior Health Minister Jim Daly on the issue.

Minister Daly described the strike as 'disappointing', adding that overcrowding at UHK was largely due to a 10 per cent increase in the number of older patients - aged 75 and over - attending the unit.

Minister Daly said that the INMO request for additional beds will be addressed in a national plan to be implemented by winter. However, he would not give any commitment as to whether any additional beds would actually be delivered.

"There is a national plan to increase bed capacity ahead of the coming winter. A submission has been made by the South/South West Hospital Group on behalf of UHK for additional beds to be opened there for next winter. That is being progressed by the HSE and the Department at the moment and hopefully it will deliver some additional capacity in the hospital," said Minister Daly.

Deputy Ferris did not appear impressed by the response. "It is evident from the Minister of State's reply that there does not appear to be any plan to put in place additional beds within the hospital," he said.

"Will it take another protest to implement whatever proposals the task force is going to make? Will it take another protest to get adequate beds in the hospital for patients in need? I hope the nurses' actions this week will accelerate whatever decisions the Government is going to take to provide patient care and safety to the people of our county," Deputy Ferris said.