Massive rise in bed closures
The total number of closed beds in the health service has spiralled by nearly 40% since January, according to new figures.
There were 1,672 beds closed in early January, but total closures now stand at 2,317. This figure comprises both acute hospital beds and beds in long-stay and continuing care centres.
The number of closed acute hospital beds has jumped by just over 10% since January and now stands at 1,348.
And according to figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), the number of closed long-stay beds has more than doubled - from 449 to 969 since January.
Adding in the current total of 800 delayed discharge patients currently occupying acute beds to acute beds closed, there are now 2,158 acute beds alone unavailable in the system.
The number of closed beds has increased considerably in some hospitals since January.
At the beginning of the year, there were no beds closed at the Mater in Dublin, according to the INMO figures, but now there are 61 beds closed there.
However, the Mater has disputed the figure published by the INMO.
A spokesman said the hospital's bed complement was 644 at the start of 2010 and was 613 at the end of 2010. The bed total as of this month now stood at 600, according to the Mater.
At Connolly Hospital in Dublin there were 32 beds closed in January, but now the figure is 44.
Merlin Park Hospital in Galway has seen its beds closures increase from 70 to 91 since January, according to the INMO.
The South Infirmary Victoria in Cork has seen its bed closures rise from 27 to 55 and Sligo General's bed closures have increased from 66 to 70.
The Mid-Western Regional Hospital in Limerick has seen an increase in bed closures from six to 35 since the start of the year, while Waterford Regional's closures have doubled from six to 12.
Health Minister James Reilly told the Dail back in April that there were around 1,000 acute beds closed and said he had no intention of reducing bed capacity any further.
The Minister at the time said waiting lists were at their current levels as there was insufficient capacity within the system.
However, with hospitals massively in the red as the year has progressed, some have been forced to close more beds.
Hospital treatment waiting lists have increased by 40% since the start of the year.
The HSE has since earlier this year stopped publishing its monthly estimate of acute bed closure numbers in its hospitals.
[Posted: Thu 20/10/2011]